Bp. Barron did a video recap about his interview with Shia LaBeouf and ignored the huge gorilla in the room

Yesterday evening I browsed through a few videos on Youtube.  YT proposed, sua sponte of course, a video with Bp. Robert Barron, himself being interviewed, in a “recap” about his own highly viewed interviews with Lex Fridman (of which I was unaware because I don’t pay heaps of attention to Barron) and with Shia LaBeouf.

The issue of Shia caught my attention because of his conversion and his comments to Barron about the Traditional Latin Mass.  Those comments seemed to catch Barron out of prep and, as Shia came back to it several times, left him somewhat bumfuzzled.

Bp. Barron, to his credit, does a pretty good interview.  He has interesting things to say.   However, there are things that he doesn’t say and should, as when he was interviewed by Ben Shapiro.  For this, which strikes me as a tactic, Barron has for a long time stood oracularly astride what I call the Olympian Middle.

Now that he is the ordinary bishop in a diocese, I hope he will let himself off his ever so carefully braided leash, though I don’t expect that he will.  Not much at least.  He is, after all, in Winona.  Greener pastures await, but not if he leaves the leash.  Not at this time. Not with this present episcopate.

The recap video opens in medias res, no opening title, graphics, with Barron making the statement:

“Maybe we don’t have to be in a stance of kind of mutual suspicion.”

Hence, he did not bury the lead.

Leaving aside what Barron said about the interview with Lex Fridman (a science guy… some of this was very good) I was mainly interested in what he would say about the Shia interview which has garnered 1..5 million views and attention in the secular press, which he acknowledged.

Both Barron and the interviewer, his employee and water carrier, entirely ignored Shia’s comments about the Traditional Latin Mass. He chose instead to remark on the good example of “evangelization” given to Shia by the Franciscans he had met.

I will agree that that was a good topic. However, the issue of the TLM was absolutely the hulking gorilla in the recap and he chose to ignore it. I don’t say that he chose to emphasize something else: he ignored it. He could have addressed it, but he didn’t. Even though he might have wanted to keep the video short, he didn’t mention it at all. Nor did the the water carrier.  If you are going to fulfill the role of the interviewer, you ask about the hulking gorilla in the room.  They clearly agreed ahead of time to ignore it.

That gorilla is now even bigger than before by the fact that he so obviously tried to photoshop it out of the background.

It is difficult to have respect for that choice.

I firmly believe that someone of Barron’s stature could to a great deal to bring various components of the Church in these USA together.

A demographic sinkhole is opening up under the Church right now. Pretty soon, only the committed, of various flavors of Catholic identity, will be left. They will find each other out of sheer need and something interesting will result. One of the groups that will remain strong and prominent will be Catholics who have embraced traditional sacred worship. And not just the elements that most obviously characterize that liturgical tradition. They want all of it. They want the identity and life that goes with it.  This is something many bishops do not get at all.  They think it is about the externals.  Or, on the odd chance that they do get it, even if they are inclined to warm up, they dread even more the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing.

Here’s the “recap”. The Shia part starts at about 16:45.

I don’t want this to turn into a bash Barron combox, especially from traddydom’s chattering Id crowd.  If you are going to comment, say something interesting.

Meanwhile, I invite Bp. Barron to learn the Vetus Ordo and then to celebrate a Pontifical Mass.

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  1. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    I think his Excellency simply doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about: like, he just, doesn’t get it, man. He strikes me as decent, straight laced, and not particularly eccentric; the Vetus Ordo appeals primarily to barbarians and poets.

    But what he sees is some sort of brawl happening, and he’s doing his best to avoid it. I doubt he thinks it’s worth engaging at all, lest he end up in the fray. His comments so far, I would venture to guess, were the product of loyalty to the institutions as they stand. These kinds of men appear with some frequency in the Episcopate, and I don’t envy them. The present age is, perhaps, even more fraught with the bizzare then the 1960s.

    The question remains: how do we get through to such men? Well, perhaps the annals of history can shed some light on this rather vexing problem. It seems toe that the current situation is analogous to that of the so-called “humanist” scholars in the renaissance: We’re engaged in a revival of the glories of the past, in a way that ought to exceed that past. Their successes, when they occurred, were produced by the superiorities if Art and Literature. It seems to me we ought to cultivate the same sort of thing: fine art, fine writing, knowledge, a zest for life, etc.

    (Ps. I know there was bad stuff in the renaissance, please don’t get bogged down in the irrelevant portions of the analogy.)

  2. The question remains: how do we get through to such men?

    Invite them. Pray for them. Keep knocking on the door.

  3. deo_volente says:

    I am continually perplexed by Bp. Barron continually referring to beauty as a vehicle to draw souls to the Church, and yet refusing to acknowledge the inherent beauty of the TLM. Further, the TLM insists on surrounding itself with beauty not just in the language and the words of the prayers, but in the sanctuary and statuary and art and candles and vestments and everything else one tends to find where the TLM is celebrated. If he wants to find people who were drawn deeper into the Church because of beauty he just needs to spend time with those that have recently discovered the TLM. Oh…wait…he just did that.

  4. Liz says:

    I feel like the gorilla left the room and is out of the zoo and is somehow everywhere! I don’t think they can stop this incredible TLM growth. Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to, and even substitute radio talk show hosts all seem to be saying that they’ve discovered the old mass. In places where it’s been restricted it’s only seems better…more options, more growth. It’s amazing. Perhaps I only have glimpses of it but the glimpses all seem to show growth.

  5. tzabiega says:

    TLM fans like me should be aware that Bishop Barron did not bring up a second gorilla in the room. Shia stated that, on the invitation of Mel Gibson, he was attending the TLM in Van Nuys. and he mentioned the Priestly Society of Christ the King. This society is not the Institute of Christ the King. It is a sedevacantist society running the Oratory of St. Francis, the only church in Van Nuys with a Latin Mass. They are a wacky group aligned with liberal catholic schismatics as well (google the oratory’s website). The good bishop did Shia and TLM goers a favor by not saying that Shia was turning to schismatics for his sacraments. Mel Gibson is a troubled soul living both in open adultery and open schism with the Church. He is not a good role model and he led Shia astray. I hope Bishop Barron privately told Shia to go somewhere else. By emphasizing the Franciscans who converted Shia and not the schismatics leading Shia astray he was doing true traditional Catholics attending legitimate Traditional Latin Masses a favor by ignoring the topic.

    [Okay. Another interesting angle to consider!]

  6. thomistking says:

    I’ve talked to priests who were Barron’s students when he was at Mundeleine and they’ve said there was always a disconnect between what he said in the classroom about the beauty of the liturgy and the way he said mass. I suspect this is partially a personality issue (the Dominicans I’ve met have tended to be intellectual but not that interested in the liturgy) and partially an education issue. It shouldn’t surprise us that someone ordained by Bernardin in the 80s has trouble translating theological knowledge into reverent worship of God. Fortunately this seems to be much less of an issue among seminarians that I know now.

  7. kekeak2008 says:

    I commend Bp. Barron for asking Shia to elaborate about his experience during the interview; he could have easily ignored the statement and moved on. He allowed the moment to linger. Kudos to Bp. Barron.

    As to why he didn’t mention Shia’s comments on the TLM during the recap: I can only imagine it being the bishop’s desire to avoid confrontation – whether that’s confrontation with a particular person/group or confrontation with a difficult subject/topic. Sometimes at family reunions, you shy away from certain topics and keep your mouth shut. He’s human and a sinner, like all of us. We all do it. I wish he hadn’t, but he did.

    As to how to “get through to” or “convince” him of the inherent Goodness, Beauty, and Truth of the TLM, along with a fuller appreciation and apprehension of our traditional patrimony and Catholicity? As Fr. Z aptly said: “Invite them. Pray for them. Keep knocking on the door.” It’s really that simple. We’re all more open to receiving a thing, let alone the truth, when it comes from someone who we feel genuinely cares for us and loves us. Invitations are powerful, especially when it comes from a loving place.

    Finally, we all need to fast more for our priests and prelates; I do so sparingly; it’s shameful.

  8. Fr_Andrew says:

    Msgr Barron has always struck me as the “John Roberts” of the American Church—a radical moderate, with more interest in trying to placate everyone, and the status quo, than actually solving problems.

    Many explain this as being interested in the integrity of the institution, rather than the battles which rage around it. Maybe it’s a political strategy, or perhaps it’s just the weak-kneed generation and background the bishop comes from. Either way, it is exactly the “car salesman” type of approach that Shia objected to, and precisely the issue with a middle-management, moralistic, and inorganic type approach that produced Bell-Bottoms and the Novus Ordo Missæ, both things inextricably stuck in the aura of the 1970s no matter what window-dressing one adds. An approach that produces not timeless things, but “sell by” dates.

    Ultimately, such men are either in denial that there is a Church Crisis, or they know quite well, but feel compelled to actively deny, like that classic Leslie Neilsen, Naked Gun scene standing in front of the exploding fireworks factory—”Nothing to see here, please disperse.” Aside from prayers, I do not know what else can help them to can the acting, or open their eyes.

    That said, Winona is a perfect place for such a person, but I seriously doubt, even with a radically moderate strategy, it is a stepping-stone. Historically, it has been an endpoint. Only one bishop out of there (Vlasny) has ever moved on to greater things.

  9. JMody says:

    Father, maybe we’re missing something. Maybe the bishop and his interviewer didn’t mention it because they don’t understand the rift, they’re super behind on current events, and they really and truly believe that there are two valid parallel forms of one rite. That could explain why he was so stymied by Lebeouf – I mean, if it’s as commonly understood as putting on socks before shoes, and this actor keeps going on about it like it’s a big deal, that could explain his reaction. Maybe someone at the Vatican will crack down on this obvious “SP was right” view that’s so obsolete and set him straight.

    Maybe we should alert his production staffers to find new jobs before Cdl Roche sends them packing.

    Maybe. And, maybe not.

  10. dholwell says:

    The choice of what part of the patrimony to emphasize on any given day is a personal one for each priest and prelate, hopefully guided by the Spirit. I like Bishop Barron — he does tremendous work evangelizing. From me he gets a pass on this. Would I appreciate his vocal support of the TLM? Yes. But at this point in this papacy, perhaps biding one’s time is prudent. Perhaps.

    [“tremendous work evangelizing”…. I have an honest question. I don’t know the answer to this. Are non-Catholics entering the Church because of Bp. Barron’s work? Are fallen away Catholics reverting?]

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  12. Mikhael says:


    Didn’t Shia refer to Christ the King in Oakland, which there is a Institute of Christ the King in Oakland. Also at one point he refers to it to being very French.

  13. mneil says:

    I don’t know if I entered the Church solely because of Bishop Barron’s evangelisation but it was a major factor.

    His then recently published book Exploring Catholic Theology had a big impact on me and as a consequence I was soon reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, praying the Rosary, attending Eucharistic Adoration, and reading St Thomas Aquinas among other solid Catholic practices. And for a while I was also a regular listener to his Word on Fire Show.

    However, before I was received into the Church I began drifting away from his work. A major obstacle for me was his thoughts on the liturgy. A bit like with Pope Francis in TC and DD, despite saying some great and inspiring things about the Mass, I could only detect some mild tut-tutting towards the sort of dreadful celebration of the Mass which effectively undercut all of those inspiring comments. After I started attending Sunday Mass at my local parish these sort of things nearly derailed my conversion and it’s only by God’s grace that I held on and eventually found an FSSP parish not too far from my home.

    So, I guess that for me as a secularised Protestant who was looking to understand more about Catholicism, Bishop Barron’s evangelisation was undeniably effective. Whereas now, from the inside as it were, I think his approach gives at least the appearance of a denial of some real issues in the Church which for me tarnishes his credibility.

    Of course we shouldn’t be filling up the internet with diatribes against Vatican II and Pope Francis, but a little bit of gentle criticism where appropriate from someone like Bishop Barron wouldn’t go amiss either. His recent charitable but firm criticism of President Biden’s absurd and scandalous stance on abortion was encouraging.

    And I still wish him well in his debates with secularists and the like, as he seems to be one of the few who has any sort of reasonably high-profile audience with them.

  14. ChiaraDiAssisi says:

    Yes, he referred to Christ the King in Oakland.

  15. diaconus_in_urbe says:

    There’s a saying from Dale Carnegie:

    “An ounce of honey attracts a lot more flies than a gallon of gall.” [Ummm… St. Francis de Sales.]

    I think His Excellency is prudently weighing Carnegie’s point very carefully; especially given the very, VERY wide audience he deals with. I ask: which other bishops (or priests for that matter) have actually gotten secular culture to 1. actually pay attention to them, 2. have been able to speak at to scientists, to famous actors, atheists, and have them respectfully engage him, and 3. have kept an orthodox theological position while doing so? Not many – none on his scale (without being elected to the papacy, which de facto gets you the world’s attention).

    I think this whole ‘bickering about what Bishop Barron is doing – or not doing,’ is a demonic tactic to divide us, honestly. There are plenty of actual problems to worry about instead of fussing over the details of His Excellency’s comments (or lack thereof) on the liturgy. How about we pause for a bit and read the Gospel of St. John (John 8:7f) for a while, and ask ourselves “How many people have I brought into the Holy Catholic Church?” before starting complain about anything the bishop is doing (or not doing).

    [“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillerée de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre. … Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar.”]

  16. Felipe says:

    I read somewhere that he mentions Canon Norman by name. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, apostolate in OAKLAND, CA. The diocesan parish is called St Margaret Mary but the institute’s Oakland apostolate operates out of it. I pray that the institute gets their own parish in the Oakland Diocese. They kept our diocesan (Thursday) TLM going at St Edward in Newark, CA for several years.

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