“Stay and fight”

In new book, LA Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron urges Catholics not to leave the Church because of sex-abuse scandals

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron speaks to pilgrims in Panama City Jan. 23, 2019, at FIAT, the largest English-language World Youth Day event. (Credit: CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard.)

It’s now been almost a year since the latest wave of the clerical sexual abuse scandals in Catholicism erupted. How bad have things become over that year?

Well, one measure is this: Arguably the most prominent Catholic bishop in America, and by consensus the most talented natural communicator and evangelist among the current crop of U.S. prelates, felt compelled to bring out a new book today in which he urges, almost begs, rank-and-file Catholics not to just walk away.

“I have written this book for my fellow Catholics who feel, understandably, demoralized, scandalized, angry beyond words, and ready to quit,” writes Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, known to millions of Catholics in America and around the world through his Word on Fire ministry and his “Catholicism” TV series.

“What I finally urge my brothers and sisters in the Church to do is to stay and fight-and to do so on behalf of themselves and their families, but especially on behalf of those who have suffered so grievously at the hands of wicked men,” Barron writes.

Barron’s short new book is titled Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis, and it’s published by Word on Fire. Thanks to benefactors who underwrote the cost, it’s being sold at just $1 a copy, and all profits will go to organizations supporting abuse victims.

In an interview shortly before the book appeared, Barron told Crux he decided to write the book in January, largely on the basis of his experience as a bishop in the Santa Barbara region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“It was a lot of pastoral contact in the Santa Barbara region, where I’m dressed up as a bishop and symbolizing the Church,” Barron said. “There was just a huge amount of tears and anguish, along with some anger, although that wasn’t predominant … it was just deep bitterness, frustration about this whole thing,” he said.

To be clear, the book is not an apologia by Barron for how the Church has handled the abuse scandals. Though he’s a bishop and now a member of the administrative committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the group’s main governing body, Barron can be as searing as any critic or reformer in his description of what’s gone wrong.

On McCarrick, for instance, Barron is clear that simply taking away his red hat and then expelling him from the priesthood doesn’t mean the case is closed.

“The question is how someone like McCarrick was able to perdure for so many years rising through the ranks of the Church,” he said. “Clearly, something was wrong with the way the system was functioning.”

Barron has called for a full investigation of who knew what, and when, about McCarrick on the floor of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and he repeats that call in the book.

In the book, Barron bluntly calls on Catholics to push back.

“Fight by raising your voice in protest; fight by writing a letter of complaint; fight by insisting that protocols be followed; fight by reporting offenders; fight by pursuing the guilty until they are punished; fight by refusing to be mollified by pathetic excuses,” he writes.

Barron said he understands the impulse to express protest and disappointment. In the secular world, the way to let a company know you don’t like its products is to stop buying them; in politics, you show disapproval of leaders by not voting for them. In the same way, many Catholics may be tempted to manifest their anguish over the abuse crisis by not showing up.

As Barron sees it, however, that’s cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.

“There’s never a good reason to leave the Church,” he said. “It’s leaving the mystical body of Christ, the sacraments, the Eucharist, the means to eternal life.”

Full story at Crux Now.


  1. If Gomez won’t do anything to fix the Religious Education Congress, despite years of asking him to do so, he sure as heck isn’t going to fix the problems that stem from homosexuals in the priesthood.

    • drewelow says

      wouldn’t it be nice if barron could do some fighting in los angeles

      • Has there been any statistically significant difference in evangelization outcomes in Bishop Barron’s territory since he arrived there compared with the church at large? Are the youth not leaving the church in such large numbers because of what Bishop Barron is doing there? Are people returning to Mass or to the church because of him? Is he having any effect besides self-promotion and promoting his “nonprofit”?

  2. The sex scandals won’t drive me away but the lousy music from OCP and GIA might.

  3. Hippo Gus says

    Bp. Barron is correct. He distinguishes between the Church (founded by Our Lord, Himself) and those who undermine His teachings. Shouldn’t we remember that it is His Church. His Church always had traitors, thieves and cowards. Just look at Our Lord’s starting lineup:

    – one thief and turncoat (Judas);
    – one triple denier (Peter, who Our Lord specifically identified to lead the Church);
    – ten, who voted with their feet and abandoned Our Lord at the time when He needed them the most; and
    – one, who stayed with Him until the End (John), along with His mother, the BVM.

    Statistically, this “starting lineup” should have been placed on waivers at the outset. Nevertheless, His Church continues to survive and is the only Church…

  4. bohemond says

    Stay and Fight… then untie my hands

    • Hippo Gus says

      Neither your, my, nor other members of the laity had our hands tied.

      There is no sense in cutting ourselves off from the Sacraments and the Sanctifying Grace that comes with them in order to make a point. We have many allies, including (to name a few):

      – Cdl. Burke;
      – Cdl. Muller;
      – Bp. Schneider;
      – our BVM;
      – Archangels, Sts, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael; and
      – all of the Angels and Saints.

      Things will change. But they will change according to His schedule; not ours.

    • The heavenly allies are innumerable; the earthly ones are few. Quite a number of clergy have had their hands tied, their mouths shut, and their pens silenced by their bishops, yet the ones proclaiming immigration, homosexuality, climate change, sexual license, have not; so that the new world order agenda is proclaimed in the church over the salvation from sin and death for good works and eternal life in Jesus. His Holy Name is hardly mentioned outside the liturgy. Indeed untie our hands and get your hand away from our mouths. “Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”

      • bohemond says

        Thank you Fr. for pointing out the Truth.. the solution I propose will not printed on this site ….

  5. Bp. Barron says he wants us to “stay and fight”? But when the same bishop was asked about homosexual marriage in California, he argued we shouldn’t “get on a crusader’s tank and try to reverse that.” That’s right. Don’t fight it. Because according to Bp. Barron, that “would probably cause much more problems and dissension and difficulty if we keep pressing it.”

    Never mind that this brings the bishop into conflict with his own Church. In 2003, the CDF stated that “all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions,” and that, “in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic…

  6. Mortimer says

    Bishop Barron, it’s more than just the clergy abuse scandals that are driving people away. Masses celebrated with casualness, secular-sounding music, and bad homilies; religious ed that is boring; lack of social opportunities for young adults to meet potential Catholic spouses (of the opposite sex — have to add that these days, don’t we?). Those are even greater reasons why it’s mostly grey hair in the pews at Mass. Stay and fight, okay. But pastors need to step up their game too and make parishes flourish through their leadership and management.

  7. Anonymous says

    Fight what? Fight who?
    Stay and pray.
    Stay and console the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart.
    Stay and become holy yourself.
    Do not cut yourself off the vine.

  8. Margaret says

    I would never encourage a friend or relative to leave the Church, but I certainly understand why they do. So many are fed up with the bishops and their bad and immoral ways.

    • Margaret, I too understand why people are fleeing the Church. But I don’t place the blame on the Bishops. In my experience over many decades, 95% of Catholics couldn’t tell you the name of their Bishop – that’s a problem of a different sort. Most could not tell you where the Chancery is located. I don’t believe people are fed up with the Bishops and their bad and immoral ways. The Catholic Church is a parish-by-parish organization. It is what is going on locally that drives people away or attracts them. Look at how “destination parishes” are growing. People are drawn to them. Why? Good music, good sermons, good liturgy, and opportunities to serve the world’s people.

      • bohemond says

        Bob One, incredibly I kind of agree with you, I almost left for Eastern Orthodoxy, why crummy, banal, people centered liturgy.. Luckily I found a TLM parish …as are others…though is much frustration with there Bishops

      • Actually, many of the so-called “destination parishes” that aren’t solidly fixed on traditional Catholicism are little more than religious social clubs, Catholic parishes trying to be protestant megachurches. Good music doesn’t mean OCP/GIA P&W songs sung to guitar and drums. Good sermons aren’t banal appeals to love, accept, tolerate and pretend that sin isn’t sin. Good liturgy isn’t about celebrating the community. If the priest or the “liturgist” calls the altar a table or the Mass a communal meal, if the entrance song is ever “All Are Welcome,” get the heck away from that parish!

        • “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 47).

        • Kelly, the definition of an altar is “table”.

          • No, an altar is not a table. That is the main problem now — nothing is sacred anymore. An altar is a specially designed piece of construction set aside and consecrated for use in a holy sacrifice. The area was so holy in the Old Testament that the priests were told to make sacred clothing that was so modest that their legs were not even to show while going up the steps, and the rest of their body was to be fully covered..

        • Anonymous says

          Star of the Sea and St, Dominic’s in SF are destination parishes. You can find links to sermons from those parishes on this website.

    • Lou Varini says

      The bishops and clergy are not the Church. They carry on Our Lord’s teachings and sacraments through apostolic, episcopal and Petrine succession.

    • Margaret , if anyone you know is considering leaving the church I would encourage them to go to a TLM parish or a Eastern Catholic rite parish. In my experience they are more respectful of the laity, and with some eastern rites allowing for married priests it provides a different perspective.

  9. Katie S. says

    Stay and fight is fine and I am surr that Bishop Barron is sincere. Unfortunately, we don’t know who among those holding meaningful positions of authority to trust:


  10. Stay and fight , Yes ! but not with you as shepard ,I do not see that you are filled with anger as a father would be at such horrors, children and the laity have been abused , deceived, insulted by the clergy and their hubris in handling the crisis is disgusting and obvious . What is needed are people filled with righteous anger that children have been abused and that the clergy have failed them in word and action . The presence of mahoney , martin , wurell,, pfleeger, and other disgraced clergy being allowed a Catholic forum speaks volumes on the contempt for the laity, simply put you and your fellow bishops have destroyed the trust , and esteem that you SHOULD have but do not.

  11. How will we be able to “Stay and fight”, when the deck is stacked against us?


    Please, Bishop Barron, give us guidance on WHO, specifically, within the Church’s leadership are worthy of our trust. Jesus is worthy of our trust, as well as Sacred Tradition and the Catechism; however, those who seek to use their office, for their own agenda, to misdirect, confuse and mislead the faithful are not worthy of trust.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.