Barron Wondering Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

July 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Parish Life

Just hours after being named auxiliary bishop to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis, Fr. Robert Barron has reportedly begun contemplating the problem of suffering and why bad things happen to good people.

“I just don’t get it,” a despondent Barron told EOTT as he walked sadly along the shore kicking rocks. “I’m not saying I’m a saint or anything, but I’m not an altogether bad guy. I help the poor and I’m genuinely nice to people. I just…I don’t know…I just don’t understand why a good and loving God would allow me to be become a bishop in Los Angeles.”

Barron, who was later quoted as saying that he could finally relate to the character of Job in the Bible, also said that he felt as though he was going through the dark night of the soul.

Colleagues of Barron have also been mystified by the sudden, tragic turn of events in their friend’s once happy life, with one friend saying that he even attempted to comfort him with scripture, but that nothing had worked.

“I quoted him Romans 8:18, where it says, ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,’ but you could tell he just wasn’t having any of it. And I’m gonna be honest, it was even hard for me to stomach. It’s an easy thing to contemplate when you’re not suffering, or suffering a little, but when you’re being punished to this degree…it takes a lot of faith. I ask everyone to please keep Fr. Barron in your prayers in this difficult time.”

  • The first sentence doesn’t go with the headline. Or is that part of the…uh…satire?

  • Wildgraywolf

    Yeah, it’s part of the satire T.

    • Steve

      It seems to me to be a typo. The first instance of the word “good” needs to be replaced with “bad” in the first paragraph. Also, a quotation mark to begin the final paragraph couldn’t hurt.

      • Hormisdas

        Neither. It’s not a question because the sentence isn’t asking “why bad things happen to good people,” the sentence is *stating* that Barron is now contemplating “why bad things happen to good people.” Also, they’re saying that Barron, thinking he’s a “good person,” is now wondering why such a “bad” thing as being appointed bishop would happen to him. Thus, why *bad* things happen to *good* people.

        • Steve

          The text has been edited since my comment.

  • Admiral Nissan

    Love it.

  • Thibaud313

    Probably one of the first time ever that the announcement of a bishop’s nomination led people (other than parishioner from that priest’s parish and his own family) to say : “Hey ! I know that guy !”.

  • Margaret McNamara

    Isn’t this the guy who thinks Hell is empty?

    • Steve

      Not to my knowledge.

    • Robert G

      He believes it is right for the Christian to hope hell is empty, but God is just if we all end up there.

    • Netmilsmom

      Not empty. Just Hitler and a few Lawyers there.

      • Hotrod1962

        Reminds me of an old joke: Pope and lawyer die and go to heaven. Both are shown their heavenly homes. Pope’s residence is modest ranch, while lawyer’s is a palatial estate. The pope is trying to be as humble as possible, but he finally cracks. “What’s the deal?”, he tells St. Peter. “I’m Pope and just get this lousy house, and this guy gets a mansion?”. Peter looks at him and says “We got plenty of popes up here, but up to now, he’s our first lawyer”.

    • No, he doesn’t affirm or teach that “Hell is empty.” But, he does affirm the possibility that every person will be reconciled to God, recognizing the insoluble mystery of divine agency on the human heart. As a result, Fr. Barron’s position is one of humility in the face of an almighty God, but he is certainly not a “universalist” as commonly understood.

      • GiuseppinaPeccatrice

        Very good. I’ve been trying to share his view with different folks. You did it much better.

      • Darran McDonnell

        You made a contradiction here that in good faith I don’t think you noticed.

        Teaching that Hell is empty, and that it is reasonable to hope that Hell is empty, are both the same. One just has clearer language than the other.

        This is clearer to see when you apply it to other heresies apart from universalism.

        IE. “I do not teach that the Second Coming won’t happen, but that it is reasonable to hope that it won’t happen”.

        Anyone can reply, very reasonably, that it isn’t reasonable to teach that a heresy is worth putting your hope in.

        • Oswald Avile

          By this analogy, wouldn’t it be unreasonable to hope in salvation at all, for anyone? In other words, what is the epistemic value of hope vs. belief.

          Using your example: “I do not think/believe/etc. that I will go to hell but I hope that I don’t.”

          Two notes 1) I didn’t use the word teach because that has no epistemic value and the formal promulgation may cause further problems. 3) In this sense, “I do not think” has the meaning of “I have no knowledge or certainty of the notion that…” (epistemic agnosticism) rather than the more simplistic presumption of a reality.

          • Darran McDonnell

            We are talking about heresies, not the destination of individual people. I’m sorry to sound blunt, but to explain (in case English isn’t your first language) the trouble is that you have overstretched the analogy by treating it as though it were an argument with propositions that you can apply to other things. Whereas what I said depended on context. I hope this helps.

        • ithakavi

          Is it possible to hope that one’s deceased brother is not in Hell, and then multiply that hope by the number of deceased human beings? If the first hope is not heresy (and it cannot be; otherwise why can we pray for the dead?), why is the second?

          • Darran McDonnell

            It is good to hope that our deceased brother is not in Hell, because what we are hoping for is that he died in a state of grace (whether it is known to us or not).

            But with regards Fr Barron, what maintained that it is reasonable to place hope in von Balthasar’s ->theory<- that nobody goes to Hell, or that those that do are there only temporarily.

            In the first instance, when we hope that our brother is in Heaven we have our hope in the person himself and his disposition. We don't reject Christian doctrine when we do this. However, the second instance we would, because we would be putting our hope in a principle that is heavily heretical.

            It is a painfully sharp dose of reality, but Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church have always reflected Jesus' teaching that a majority of souls will be damned. Our Lord has also taught us the name of one person in particular – Judas Iscariot.

            Unfortunately, this is the reason why unclear language can be so dangerous. Many good, honest people will naturally give Fr Barron the benefit of the doubt (and I can't blame them) but still inadvertently end up in error.

            There are two very good (free) videos on Church Militant on this topic, I have found them and linked below:



            I hope this helps!

          • ithakavi

            Where has the Church ever taught that even Judas is in Hell – or that any particular person is in Hell? The Church recognizes Saints, but declaring anyone in Hell would seem to be outside the job description.

            I certainly agree that any theory that states as fact that Hell is empty is heretical (if for no other reason it diminishes Heaven). Moreover, teaching that all will be saved is extraordinarily pernicious because it excuses (nay, guarantees) moral laxity. There is no better way to end in Hell than to assume Heaven. It is the heresy, Apocatastasis, for which Origen was anathematized.

            But why do we pray, after every decade of the Rosary: ‘O my Jesus … lead all souls to Heaven … ?’

          • Darran McDonnell

            With regards the prayer to lead all souls to Heaven, we are asking the Lord if He would give people grace by our intercession, in the hope that if it is granted, they would act upon the grace and benefit their souls. “Lead all souls to Heaven”.

            As I mentioned before, when we talk about individuals, hoping that they do not die damned and praying for their conversion does not mean denying that people go to Hell or that Hell is permanent.

            The words “reasonable hope” is what I think is confusing you, and I can’t blame you, as without diving into it it would be natural to assume this sentence refers to individuals, but in reality it is referring to von Balthasar’s principle. It is deliberately unclear language, and unfortunately it is a fairly common tactic ofheterodox ‘theologians’, because clear and direct language is much more likely to land an excommunication.

            With regards Judas in Hell, I am copy/pasting this for ease in the next comment box, I hope this doesn’t come across sounding blunt.

          • Darran McDonnell

            “A) In Holy Scripture, Jesus has – and three times, formally announced the damnation of Judas. [Jn 6: 70; Mt 26:24; Jn 17:12]” (p. 131)

            “B) Tradition of the Church’s Faith bears witness to the damnation of Judas. (1) The Church celebrates each Apostle’s feast, but She never celebrated Judas’… That proves She has always believed he was not in Heaven. (2) Knowing Judas was not in Heaven, neither did Church ever pray for him to get there… that’s the proof She has always believed he wasn’t in Purgatory either.” (p. 134)

            “C) The Church’s Magisterium also teaches that Judas is in Hell. Saint Peter, the first Pope, in the exercise of his universal and infallible Magisterium, during the first synod of Bishops gathered by and under his supreme authority, teaches that Judas “has gone to his own place”. [Ac 1:25]” (p. 134) Moreover, in three places the Catechism of the Council of Trent (the ordinary Magisterium) says that “Judas has not profited from Redemption and that he has lost his soul” (p. 135)

          • Bill Guentner

            I “hope” you have read Balthasar’s book on the subject. I have read it more than twice and studied parts of it numerous times and believe that neither he or Cdl. Barron are heretics. In stating Balthasar’s writing on the subject as “theory” you have excluded the possibility of heresy. Virtually every theologian has so-called “theories”. That is the nature of theology. The great Doctor of the Church, St. Anselm’s motto was fides quarens intellectum; theology is faith seeking understanding. Balthasar’s musing on the subject of hell was just that. He accepted the doctrine but musing about the “possibility” of no one being in hell.

          • Darran McDonnell

            The problem though, of course, is that playing with an impossible idea and stating that it is possible is exactly where the heresy lies. The idea that Hell is empty is heretical, musing with this idea means musing with a heretical idea.

            Assenting to belief in a known heresy makes a heretic, teaching a known heresy makes a serious heretic.

            It’s entirely possible for someone to take advantage of a wishy washy age by using wishy washy language. Had he taught this without mildly breaching his wall by implying it as being theoretical (even though it is equally heretical either way) he would have been more likely to have gotten into serious trouble much quicker.

            I say that, based on what we can observe in these comments alone it is evident that the weak language was enough to fool many people into accepting this heresy without realising. It is an effective way to teach this idea and it appears intentional. I have no wound on my conscience in saying that both Bishop Barron and von Balthasar, for as long as they hold on to this, are heretics.

          • Wiffle

            “Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church have always reflected Jesus’ teaching that a majority of souls will be damned. ”

            I don’t know if you’ll see this, but your arguments are really excellent and very tight until right here.

            The tradition of the Catholic church is that a majority of the souls will be damned. The Magisterium is a bit more vague on the topic of numbers, which is, I believe, more correct. In seeing how “majority of souls” plays out in terms of culture, it seems to produce a Calvinistic effect that is toxic and counterproductive in learning to love God. I don’t think the emphasis on that point has been a healthy development for the Church.

            You’ve at least stayed out the Micheal Voris territory of “most men are damned”, which is possibly why he tends to harp on Bishop Barron’s mistake of hoping it’s empty – he’s making the same mistake of presumption in the other direction. Bishop Barron’s mistake will induce sloth and indifference in some people, Micheal Voris’ despair.

            Christ’s teaching is ambiguous on numbers. The only parable that I know of that includes easy to calculate number is the one of the virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Literally it’s 50% in Hell, 50% in Heaven which is neither a majority or a minority. For every one parable teaching to stay on the narrow road, I can find a parable warning people to not begrudge God’s generosity on the point of Heaven.

            It is perhaps not our business to know how many actually make it, as in your excellent bullet points, other than that we know the population of Hell > 0 and may ultimately contain someone that we know personally.

            I completely agree with you, however, it’s impossible to be a Christian and assume or even reasonably hope that Hell is empty. I’m not sure where Bishop Barron’s head space is on that.

      • Bill Guentner

        Great reply.

    • Mike Dross

      You’re thinking of Origen. They get mixed up a lot.

    • voiceinthedesert

      Till he got to LA

    • There was a nun who had a vision several years ago. Jesus showed her Hell and the only one there, besides Satan, was Hans Urs von Balthasar.

      • ElizD

        If that’s not yet an EOTT story, it should be.

        • Darran McDonnell


      • ithakavi

        But they’re patiently waiting for Hans Kung.

      • Margaret McNamara

        Is that a joke? Because Fatima visions showed something completely different.

        • Yes, it’s a joke. Hans Urs von Balthasar famously posited that Hell might, possibly, be empty. Thus the irony of it being empty, except for him.

      • Bill Guentner

        You appear to know more about von Balthasar that did St. John Paul the Great who bestowed on Balthasar the dignity of Priest-Cardinal, which only very, very few have been honored with. I accept the position of St. John Paul before I would ever think of accepting anything you say about this subject.

        • This was a joke, Bill, riffing off the sentiment of von Balthasar’s that hell might be empty. It would be supreme irony for it to be empty except for him.

    • Geoff Kiernan West Australia

      Margaret , you are right. He believes that we can have a reasonable expectation that all will be saved. Or As Kevin Davis says he believes that EVERY person will be reconciled to God. What is that, if it is not a claim that Hell is empty?

      • David K

        Nope. He says we can have a reasonable HOPE that every person will be reconciled, which is completely orthodox. That hope may well be disappointed in individual cases. Not the same thing as saying that all WILL be saved. We don’t know for sure that anyone in particular is in hell (though some would argue that Jesus puts Judas there).

        • John_Tuturice

          David K, I disagree with your claim of orthodoxy on this point. The key term is “hope.” Is he referring to the theological virtue of hope or a human type of hope? The evidence points to the later. That said, neither the theological or human versions of hope are reasonable on this point. What is reasonable is to say that we desire that all people may be saved. Desire is not the same as hope. Jesus openly desired that all would be saved, but scripture records people openly rejecting him (e.g., bread of life discourse, the passion) and, in turn, him allowing people to reject him. Couple that with certain scripture passages like the separation of sheep and goats at the end and that few take the narrow path to heaven while many take the wide road to hell. The natural conclusion from many St.’s and Doctor’s of the Church is that a majority go to Hell. While one can argue that it is dangerous to hold that point too firmly for various reasons, it is clear enough that many do go to hell. A final point is that the perfect mercy of Jesus does not ignore his perfect justice, which respects the free will God gave us. They are intimately intertwined with each other. If people do not want God, then they de facto get Hell, which is absence of the beatific vision of God.

          • Lee Bacchi

            A majority go to hell, according to saints of Doctors of the Church? Then maybe the 144,000 is an accurate figure!

          • John_Tuturice

            Lee, the commentary of St.’s and Doctor’s of the Church on this point, it should be noted, is not infallible, nor is it dogma or even official doctrine for that matter. That so many reputable and holy men have come to this conclusion should give us pause, but it is not something that we are obliged to believe. The main reason for this is because the topic of whether many vs. most people go to Hell is not clear in Sacred Scripture, it lends towards theological speculation. For areas of appropriate theological speculation, we are permitted to have varying opinions so long as we do not venture into disagreement with what is objectively held to be true in the Church (e.g., dogma).

          • Bill Guentner

            “Hell is not clear in Sacred Scripture, it lends towards theological speculation. For areas of appropriate theological speculation, we are permitted to have varying opinions so long as we do not venture into disagreement with what is objectively held to be true in the Church (e.g., dogma).” Much better said than that which I have posted here. Great job.

      • I said “the possibility.” That’s a key point.

      • Manuel Buen Abad Najar

        There is a difference between “expectation” and “belief”, did you know that? I don’t “reasonable expect” there is a God, I “believe” there is one. I don’t “believe” in my getting married, but I “reasonable expect” I will.

    • Bill Guentner

      Hell no! Get it straight.

  • I knew Los Angeles was mission territory, but I didn’t know it was already a titular see.

  • David Naas

    In related news, leaders of Crips and Bloods announced a joint concert where choirs from both gangs will be singing “Kumbayah” to welcome Bishop-Elect Barron to La Cuidad de la Nuestra Senora de los Angeles..

  • Mark O’Keefe

    Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhhh another Roman protestant.

    • Manuel Buen Abad Najar

      What nonsense are you talking about. The guy is great, very well read and orthodox catholic preacher, evangelizer and theologian. He’s not at all one of those “catholics” more than ready to compromise Catholic Doctrine for a few PR points.

      • Igor S Alejandre

        Father Barron is a complete modernist. He believes there´s no hell. He was enjoying his traveling a lot. He did not like the appointment a bit. I am glad. LA is a wasteland, anyways, after hurricane Mahony.

        • Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

          He has never once said that he doesn’t believe in Hell. He has spoken extensively of Hell as something that is definitely real. If you would bother to listen to his own words regarding the subject, you would see that his view is entirely orthodox.

          • Manuel Buen Abad Najar

            Agreed. They keep repeating what someone else told them that someone else said that someone else read in a combox that someone else heard Fr. Barron might have possibly, perhaps, said… It’s just lame.

          • GiuseppinaPeccatrice

            Very good description of many of the opinions seen on blogs. Not facts, just rumors.

          • Maggie

            He just said we can have a hope that no one is in hell. But that is not what Our Lord said! He said the road is broad that leads there (to destruction) and narrow that leads to paradise. That seems to fly in the face of saying we can hope that hell is empty. It is not! Anyone who dies in a state of grave sin goes there.

        • DanS

          Best satire on the whole site.

        • Manuel Buen Abad Najar

          I myself enjoy my traveling a lot. Does that make me a modernist? Maybe my liking of TLOTR makes me a pagan too.

          On the other hand, believing there is no Hell (something Fr. Barron has NEVER said) is not in the least bit Modernist. The Universalist heresy goes back to Origenes and some of the Church Fathers.

  • Gail Finke

    HA HA, great one!

  • Jim

    Sources report that Fr. Barron’s appointment to Los Angeles was stalled for a while when it was discovered that he has absolutely NO screenplays in the works, putting him in stark contrast to the flock in Los Angeles.

    • wiffle

      Another source confirmed that Fr. Barron’s appointment was able to move forward only after he committed to film the indie documentary Does God Like Hell?:Thoughts over lattes and orange biscotti. It remained unconfirmed if he was willing to try to get Morgan Freeman as narrator.

    • ithakavi

      Nor is he taking a day job as a waiter until being ‘discovered.’ Who can think of a more obscure place than the inside of a church in Los Angeles?

    • Julesie

      However he has written several over-priced and mediocre books with beautiful glossy covers.

  • jt

    Reads like the logicians here are getting punk’d!

    • jt

      (@ Igor/Jacob, comforting Jacob)

  • Jean Rioux

    We cannot hope that all persons will be saved. All human persons, fine, but Satan and his angels are also persons. (I know, I should have attached this to the discussion below… mea culpa. Great article from EOTT, by the way.)

  • GiuseppinaPeccatrice

    According to commentators in various blogs, Father Barron is a conservative, moderate, modernist priest who is humble, sure of himself, and full of himself. He was surprised and humbled at the news of his elevation, disappointed that he didn’t get the Chicago see, kicked up and out by Cardinal Cupich, and a careerist climber who will only use the LA diocese as a stepping stone to more lucrative posts. He presents uninspiring, tolerable, and compelling videos on the Catholic faith to evangelize non-Catholics, to instruct Catholics only, and to reveal to the world that he is the savior of mankind and this is the second coming. As he has said, we may reasonably hope and anticipate that we will all go to hell, many will go to hell, some will go to hell, and nobody will go to hell. Then someone spoke up and said to Bishop-Elect Barron, “Don’t worry about when you die, Father. You’ve been assigned South LA. That IS hell!”

    • Lee Bacchi

      Since both the progressives and the trads don’t like him, he is probably doing something right!

      • Darran McDonnell

        It’s unfortunate, but nobody honestly likes him.

        By that I mean, it is perfectly natural to respect the man if you are familiar with the Catholicism series, because he really did do an excellent job. He does surely have a charism for being a teacher.

        But, in one of his youtube videos he did draw on the fact that universal salvation was condemned as a heresy by the Church and went on to teach that it is reasonable to hope for. He persists in this.

        Nobody in the world, honestly, deep down, can respect anybody who is so close to being great, but willingly falls to such a stupid heresy. A mark of dirt on a dirty window can be overlooked, but the same mark on diamond is a pain to everyone’s eyes.

        I sincerely pray for his return to the Church. It seems shocking to hear that written, but at the same time bearing in mind, there are many people more orthodox than he is who aren’t even Catholics at all.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          But, in one of his youtube videos he did draw on the fact that universal salvation was condemned as a heresy by the Church and went on to teach that it is reasonable to hope for.

          Only if you willfully misinterpret both his words and the Church’s teaching. The Church obviously does not teach universal salvation outside of Her, but she also does not define the limits of the Church as the Church visible. It is indeed within the Catholic scope of things to hope that hell is empty. JPII publicly hoped for this, never repented of it, and is a saint, not a heretic.

          Long story short, we know where the Church is; we do not know where the Church is not.

          • Darran McDonnell

            I know bullet point replies can be pretty blunt, but you have to give me some leeway after using the words “wilfully misinterpret”.

            1. We are not discussing salvation outside the Church visible.

            2. Jesus Christ taught us that Hell is not empty.

            3. Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Magisterium all teach us that Hell is not empty.

            4. Pope Saint John Paul II did not hope that Hell was empty. He taught that: “Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of which human beings are effectively involved in it.”

            5. We actually ->have<- special divine revelation about a particular person who we know by name to be in Hell – Judas Iscariot. (Mark 14:21 & Matt 26:24).

            6. Unfortunately, what von Bathasar & Fr Barron taught might not be as innocent as you think.

            There was a very good Mic'd Up episode on this topic that goes into a bit more detail. I have found it and linked below:


          • Bill Guentner

            We do not know that Judas is in hell. The Church has never said that and it is Church teaching that she does not know of any particular individual is in hell. That you refer us to “churchmilitant” and Voris tells me you are ready to accept every negative comment made against the Church as espoused by Voris, who has been forbidden by his bishop to use the term Catholic in the title of his blog. That should tell you something about his overall philosophy of the CC.

          • Cassandra

            “it is Church teaching that she does not know of any particular individual is in hell.”

            Care to give an authoritative citation on that? And, no, JPII’s Wednesday audience doesn’t cut it.

            Augustine and Aquinas (and others) based on the logic of Mt 26:24 conclude Judas is in Hell. Cardinal Dulles reiterates that logic as late as May 2003. Scripture inerrantly records that Korah and followers were taken down into Hell, and that the (yet unrevealed) individuals of the beast and false prophet will be thrown into Hell.

            We also have private revelations of saints of damned individuals appearing to them. While being private revelations does not require belief by the Faithful, if the Church were to assert authoritatively (read bindingly) that no individuals are known to be in Hell, it would have the effect of declaring those private revelations to be not only uncertain, but to be positively false and condemnable.

            Show me that binding teaching of the Church which would have to come later than May 2003, or you’re implying that Cardinal Dulles is teaching contrary to the Faith in an article titled “The Population of Hell”.

      • ithakavi

        Alternatively, he’s sucking up to everyone simultaneously.

    • ithakavi

      Hell is capitalized. It is a place, and therefore a proper noun.

  • Lee Bacchi

    This entry is really cute!

  • Maggie

    Just about spit out my coffee! Yes, being made a bishop is a SCARY thing! You know they say that the floor of hell is paved with the skull caps of bishops…

  • Hotrod1962

    Must be a climate change denier.

  • ithakavi

    One look at Cardinal Mahoney’s Monstrous Cathedral would drive anyone into the Slough of Despond. Perhaps he could turn it into a Cineplex and use the money to build a real church.

  • ithakavi

    Will he be required to learn liturgical dance?