Pastor’s Letter- October 29, 2017:Bishop Barron on Social Justice

Dear Parishioners,

Bishop Robert Barron, perhaps the most sought-after Catholic speaker in America, is a clear thinker and excellent communicator and I have great esteem for the work that he his doing in the effort to evangelize and explain the faith in an understandable way particularly the issues of life and social justice, as excerpted from his interview in Northwest Catholic, October 2017.

[Note: Bishop Barron’s remarks have been edited to incorporate the questions by the interviewer.]

A really robust and cohesive commitment by Catholics to life, peace and justice would look like Mother Teresa. I don’t know anybody in the last hundred years more committed to the church’s social teaching and care for the poor. At the same time, whenever she had a chance, whenever they gave her a major public forum, she talked about abortion. And in her mind, there was absolutely no contradiction.

Dorothy Day comes to mind as well. I mean, who’s more devoted to the church’s social apostolate, but who also had a radically pro-life perspective? All Saints Day is Wednesday, November 1st a Holy Day of Obligation. Look at these great figures to exemplify the unity of the church’s pro-life and social justice stance. Sadly, I think it got ruptured in the last, let’s say, 40, 50 years, and that’s just been a tragedy for the church.

The key to unity over these issues is the Eucharist and the Mass. We come from every walk of life, every corner of the world, every educational background — we come together without the divisions that characterize ordinary society. We sing together — so the singing is not just decorative, but it’s part of what we’re about at the Mass. We listen then to the great stories of the Bible — not the stories of the world, not the stories of contemporary literature or contemporary political discourse — we listen to the stories of the Bible. We join ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of the whole world: This is my body given for you, my blood that’s poured out for everyone.

We’re becoming, in that process, conformed to Christ. We’re becoming conformed to him. And then, at the end, we’re sent back out. So those are the very sacred words of dismissal, when you’ve been sent out now into the world, to take what you’ve gotten here and then make real. So the cohesiveness of our coming together, of our singing together, of our listening together to the word of God, and of our being conformed to Christ, now sent out into the world to evangelize, to care for the poor, etc. So the Mass is the source and summit.

From a social justice standpoint, it’s tragic that 70, 80 percent of our Catholic brothers and sisters don’t come to Mass — from a social justice standpoint. Because you stay away from Mass regularly, what’s going to happen? You’re going to be shaped, willynilly, by the wider culture — and we would say that’s going to be, in the end, inimical to the cohesiveness of the body of Christ. So you want to work for social justice? I’d say: Go back to Mass.

Everyone sees automatically the social justice side of Pope Francis. But listen to him regularly, and he’s railing against abortion whenever he can — this ideological colonialism he talked about, where we’re exporting our own kind of poisonous views on the rest of the world. Listen to him on the whole gender issue. He’s very strong on the life issues, and he sees no contradiction — in fact, just the opposite — between those and the social justice side. Watch Pope Francis. [The full article may be found at northwest-catholic-october-2017-edition.]