UPDATE #1: Proof

UPDATE #2: Dog tax

UPDATE #3 (12:25pm PT): I'm taking a break now for lunch, but I'll be back later to answer questions.

UPDATE #4 (1:11pm PT): I'm back! Keep the questions coming...

I’m Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and host of the award-winning "CATHOLICISM" series, which aired on PBS.

About a year ago, I became the first Catholic Bishop to host an AMA on Reddit, which you can read here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/9h5oi0/im_a_catholic_bishop_and_philosopher_who_loves/

It was a great experience—very much like the quodlibetal questions of the Middle Ages—and I wanted to come back and do it again!

I'm a religion correspondent for NBC and have also appeared on "The Rubin Report," the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, and the Ben Shapiro Show. 

I've been invited to speak about religion at the headquarters of Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and I've keynoted many conferences and events all over the world. I'm also a #1 Amazon bestselling author and have published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life.

My website, https://WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year, and I'm one of the world's most followed Catholics on social media:

I'm probably best known for my YouTube commentaries on faith, movies, culture, and philosophy. I especially love engaging atheists and skeptics in the comboxes.

Ask me anything!

Comments: 15281 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

Zer0Summoner14365 karma

How's life only moving diagonally?

BishopBarron206 karma

Moving diagonally? I like it: they can't see me coming.

calmwalnut1887 karma

Which of the seven deadly sins do you think presents the biggest challenge in today's society?

BishopBarron2684 karma

As always, pride.

ThereIsAGap432 karma

Can you elaborate?

BishopBarron791 karma

Sure, pride is turning in on oneself. In today's society, it takes the form of the culture of self-invention. My own ego becomes the criterion of good and evil, truth and falsity. All mischief follows from that move.

drones4thepoor1145 karma

Do you believe Humans should be stewards of the Earth and take care not to pollute and exploit the resources on our planet?

BishopBarron1448 karma


nikocari1119 karma

Do you believe in evolution?

BishopBarron2174 karma


Oh_My_July956 karma

Is the exorcism still a real thing today?

BishopBarron821 karma


hybrid37815 karma

Bishop Baron, are your parents Catholic? Just wondering

BishopBarron889 karma

My Dad was and my Mom is a very devout Catholic.

pajeebajeerajee894 karma

Do you recognize the possibility that your beliefs are so strong merely because they are rooted in childhood instruction, which is very potent and usually lifelong, regardless of the arguments you concoct to justify them to yourself and others as an adult?

Things we learn to believe in as children often define us for the rest of our lives and we have little control over whether or not we wish to continue to believe them, even though we may believe ourselves able to overcome or alter our childhood instruction.

BishopBarron215 karma

Sure, we're all conditioned by our childhood experiences, but at a certain point I turned and took an honest, critical look at my beliefs. I mean, friend, you have been determined in all sorts of ways to believe certain things. But I don't assume that you've never sought your own justification for your beliefs.

Jennyrevisited784 karma

Who is your favorite Lord of the Rings character, and why?

BishopBarron1225 karma

Probably Sam, because he is the most Christ-like.

Shinji246653 karma

How are you comfortable with everyone calling you "your excellency?"

BishopBarron1292 karma

I'm not really crazy about it. I much prefer being called "bishop," which is a solid, biblical title.

Js_bagel503 karma

Can I hug the dog?

BishopBarron669 karma

We all love Jolene.

noahmanc428 karma

How does the catholic church currently view sex before marriage?

Does god forgive all sins?

BishopBarron544 karma

1) We're against it; 2) Yes, if the person is truly contrite.

Cuish230 karma

If it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that alien life does indeed exist on other planets and we are not in fact alone in the universe, what would your reaction be and how do you think the wider church as a whole would react?

BishopBarron312 karma

The key to answering this is in the Creed: "For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven..." Jesus is God's salvation to the human race. Is there another race of rational creatures that he might save somewhere else in the universe? Maybe.

Strawberrycocoa208 karma

In my younger years, I had a question arise that gave me a bit of a Crisis of Faith in Christianity. I took it to a minister, and received a very unsatisfactory answer, which led me to eventually becoming not so much a non-believer in God, but a non-believer in the validity of religious institutions. I would like to offer you that question now, mostly out of curiosity to see your reply.

The Bible states that the only entry to Heaven is to accept Christ as Lord. One can do good deeds and live kindly, but that is not sufficient to be awarded with Heaven. Even doing those things in the name of Christ is not enough. Only accepting Christ as Lord will save you from eternity in Hell.

So, how does this apply to those that never have the chance to hear of Christ? As an example, Tribespeople in the Amazon or on distant islands that have little or no contact with cultures outside of their own. There exist people in the world who have never once heard of the teachings of Christ.

Are these people consigned to Hell when they die, even though they were never given a chance at the path to Salvation?

BishopBarron289 karma

Read the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, paragraph 16. There it clearly says that non-Catholics, non-Christians, and even non-believers can be saved. Now mind you, it's not saying they will necessarily be saved. But they can. And therefore we can hope for them.

wowzerz_190 karma

Bishop Barron, what do you like to do for fun?

BishopBarron489 karma

I love to golf, play the guitar, watch movies, read books, and do Reddit AMA's.

Most_Triumphant95 karma

What type of music do you like to play?

BishopBarron367 karma

Bob Dylan

Snowjedi6179 karma

To you, what do heaven and hell look like, and where are they?

BishopBarron446 karma

Heaven looks like love, love all the way through, love without restriction. Hell looks like the narrow, boring space of my own ego.

starry__moon169 karma

If God is love, then why does he say that he “thirsts” for our love?

BishopBarron351 karma

He thirsts for our love, not because he needs something that he doesn't have, but because he wants to share what he has with us.

Cordelia_Fitzgerald80 karma

Do you think teenagers who state that they don’t believe in God and don’t want to be confirmed should be allowed to make their Confirmation? What do you think about confirming kids before First Communion? Should they be older so they understand more what’s happening?

BishopBarron246 karma

Kids who don't believe in God shouldn't be confirmed.

Liberadots75 karma

Bishop Barron, my dad is a big fan so hoping for a good answer.

If Lucifer is capable of turning against God is he also capable of repenting, or is the dynamic of God (good) vs. Satan (evil) immovable?

BishopBarron146 karma

The classical answer is that an angel's will doesn't unfold across time, but rather gathers itself and defines itself in one definitive act. Thus, repentance is not possible for a fallen angel.

Ibrey52 karma

Good morning, Your Excellency. In your controversial interview with Ben Shapiro, you said that some people can be saved "outside the explicit Christian faith," "even an atheist," but also explained that the grace of God needs to be accepted in faith for there to be supernatural charity, implying the need for implicit faith. If you meant by this that an atheist might already be living the life of sanctifying grace, can you explain how it is possible to make the act of divine faith (that is, "a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed") without believing in the existence of divine revelation or any of its objective supernatural content, and how you reconcile this with Hebrews 11:6?

In the same answer, you also gave scandal to many people by characterising the teaching of the Second Vatican Council as, "Christ is the privileged route to salvation." Indeed, you repeated, "the privileged route, and the route that God has offered to humanity, is the route of His Son." What Vatican II in fact said was, "Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation." Do you regret formulating the doctrine of Christ's unique mediation in this novel way rather than sticking more closely to the language of Scripture as well as Vatican II and the other ecumenical councils, making it sound as if there is salvation without Jesus Christ, and even a route to salvation not offered to us by God but found by man's own efforts?

BishopBarron120 karma

Salvation is found in Christ Jesus. But there are various participations in the fullness of Christ. Other religions, philosophies, even a properly informed conscience can share in the grace of Christ. And these, according to Vatican II, can be routes of salvation. Notice, please, I said can not will. John Henry Newman expresses this well when he says that the conscience is the "aboriginal vicar of Christ in the soul." If an atheist is saved by following his conscience, he is, in fact, saved by the grace of Christ, though he might not be explicitly aware of it.

clericool42 karma

Given that Hebrews 11:6 says

without faith it is impossible to please [God]. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

does it not seem like at minimum some explicit faith is necessary?

BishopBarron67 karma

Implicit faith could be a legitimate starting point.

vulcanhayhay44 karma

Where are the outer bounds of your online engagement? I was surprised to hear you speak to Ben Shapiro and even more surprised to see you give so much attention and generally positive regard to Jordan Peterson.

I ended up liking your conversations with both men and felt you were true to Catholic convictions. But I am also interested in who the progressive/liberal equivalents may be at this moment and how you might also engage that "side of the internet." I've heard you mention the talks at Google and Amazon as more liberal encounters. But I wonder who might be the progressive public figure you're most interested in interviewing to grow your ministry into new territory?

Thanks and God Bless.

BishopBarron64 karma

Give me some recommendations. I'm happy to talk to people on either end of the spectrum.


How are you?

BishopBarron96 karma

I'm good, thank God.

NigelHoneydew36 karma

I have an important question. Why did god create the platypus?

BishopBarron108 karma

To show forth his glory.

Bobcat31731 karma

Greetings Bishop! My question regards St. Anselm of Canterbury’s proof for God’s existence. In his Proslogion, he tries to make the argument that God is, “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” He goes on in a rather circular way that the being must exist in all minds, even in people who do not believe in God. Do you believe this ontological argument holds much depth or should it be expanded upon in greater detail?

BishopBarron65 karma

Rightly understood, the ontological argument is valid. But it is not an argument from "idea" to "reality." It is a drawing out of the implications of an experience of the properly unconditioned, which, by definition, transcends the split between the subjective and the objective.

peaceskiess30 karma

What would you say to someone considering a vocation in the priesthood?

BishopBarron71 karma

Ask God ever day to guide you. Go to Mass every day. Find a good spiritual director. Perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

SarahLiora26 karma

Are there any laywomen on your Word on Fire staff? I’m referring to the many laywomen with graduate degrees in ministry or theology. Many lay Catholic women are going to seminaries and graduate schools but finding jobs in the Church is difficult unless they work with children or as fundraisers, or business managers. Have you ever worked alongside any women with a call to a non-ordained professional ministry?

BishopBarron39 karma

Yes, lots of them.

Camero46623 karma

You speak a lot about using beauty to evangelize. Is there any practical advice you have for faithful lay Catholics to do this?

I'm a Catholic school teacher. Obviously I can expose my students to a lot of beautiful Catholic art and teach them about saints, but what else does this beauty-evangelization consist of? (Or have I already nailed it?)

BishopBarron33 karma

That's certainly part of it. Teach them what makes a painting or sculpture beautiful. Teach them what makes a story compelling. Get them to draw and paint and narrate themselves. And God bless you.

augustv12320 karma

One of the biggest objections to Catholicism I hear from my Protestant and agnostic family members is regarding priestly celibacy. I often struggle giving them a good defence of the practice. They don't understand why married men can't be ordained in addition to those that choose to remain celibate. I attend an Ordinarite parish and my priest is married with five children. It doesn't detract from how he is able to care for his flock and on the contrary I think the experience of having a wife and kids adds to what he can bring to the table as a priest.

How can I defend the ban on married priests in the Latin Rite when the Eastern Rites allow for them? If it's good for the Eastern churches why can't it be good for the Latin Rite as well? We're all one Church.

Just to be clear none of them object to some men choosing to follow Christ's example and remain celibate, just that married men aren't (usually) allowed to be ordained in the Latin Rite.

BishopBarron67 karma

Celibacy is not essential to the priesthood, but there are good arguments for it. For me the best argument is that it is a living eschatological witness, that is to say, a sign of the way we will love in heaven, where "we neither marry nor are given in marriage."

tigerjaws19 karma

My girlfriend asks, What is your favorite Parable?

BishopBarron35 karma

The Good Samaritan.

CT-115418 karma

I’m a teen and my parents bring me to mass every Sunday. I dread going. Anything you can say to make it better?

BishopBarron41 karma

Get Scott Hahn's book The Lamb's Supper. It will help you understand what's going on at Mass.

Natehasbeans18 karma

Do agnostics go to hell?

BishopBarron65 karma

I don't know...

oztran15 karma

Archbishop Barron? I can’t believe scrolling through social media would lead to you. This will probably get buried as the post is pretty old already but I really enjoy your commentaries on the mass. In fact we just finished watching the whole series in religion class. Have a good one!

BishopBarron14 karma

God bless you!

TrulyEvents14 karma

Hi Bp Barron,

Today is my first class of RCIA, and I owe that to your ministry.

On your podcast, you recently talked about Bls. John Henry Newman's work on notional assent vs. real assent. As a recent convert, I find myself stuck in the former category with the Church, unable to move into the latter. What advice might you suggest me for making this connection between the intellect and the will?

Thank you again.

BishopBarron25 karma

First of all, God bless you on your journey. Newman said that the optimal way to come to real assent regarding God is to attend to your conscience. Conscience gives a real, densely-textured experience of God. Start with that.

zchndm14 karma

How long did it take you to realize Ben Shapiro was wearing a Kippah? Took me 2 years.

BishopBarron30 karma

I saw it right away.

Cordelia_Fitzgerald12 karma

Why do you think many young people are trending more traditional and how can we leverage that to bring more people in? Do you think it will create a divide in the Church?

BishopBarron27 karma

Well some are. But the overwhelming majority of young people are trending away from religion in general. That's what concerns me the most.

Benedict_Isadore11 karma

What Catholic Philosophers would you Recommend to read?

What are your thoughts on Edward Feser and Eteinne Gilson?

BishopBarron21 karma

I like both Feser and Gilson. I would recommend Alasdair MacIntyre, Jean-Luc Marion, and Charles Taylor.

Shiekira8 karma

What is the hardest part of converting someone?

BishopBarron21 karma

Overcoming prejudices.

ladypopcorn19707 karma

Your Excellency, what do you think the average Catholic can best do to evangelize the culture? How should the man-on-the-street Catholic help Christ in "lead[ing] all souls to Heaven?" This is particularly relevant today, when so much of modern society is hostile to religion and contemptuous of those who openly preach and proclaim it. Thank you for all the work you do for Christ.

BishopBarron28 karma

The best thing he/she can do is to live his faith publicly and joyfully. And he/she can sanctify his/her sector of the world. Be a great Catholic journalist; a great Catholic politician; a great Catholic teacher, etc.

AveMaria896 karma

Your excellency, do you believe there is a Hell? And if so, do you believe there is people in it?

BishopBarron15 karma

Yes--and I don't know for sure.

snapekilledyomomma6 karma

What's your favorite thing about being a Catholic Bishop and why?

BishopBarron13 karma

Presiding at liturgy and preaching. It's when I most feel like a spiritual father.

infantcatholic4 karma

Your Excellency,

In your video "Bishop Barron on Pope Francis, Tradition, and John Henry Newman", you say that what makes a doctrine a doctrine is its ability to change. I am confused. I thought Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, today, and forever. How can a doctrine (that claims to be infallible), change and remain true in both "versions"?

Thank you- David

BishopBarron15 karma

No. Because doctrines exist, not on a printed page, but in the play of lively minds, they naturally develop. They are like trees or rivers. But we have to distinguish between legitimate development, which always preserves the essential structure and content of a doctrine, and corruptions which compromise them.

Binford464 karma

Bishop Barron-

I notice you travel frequently, do you have any personally favorite strategies on beating jet lag?

BishopBarron7 karma

I wish I had one! I suffer from it a lot.

HisHolinessJohnPaul24 karma

Hope I am not too late, but I have considered, at various times, joining a Dominican tertiary (or even the path to become among the Dominicans outright) and the priesthood. Any help or advice on discernment?

BishopBarron3 karma

Ask God to guide you. Find a good Dominican in heaven to intercede for you. And follow the path that leads to greater love.

May_I_Be_Frank3 karma

Bishop, I watched your interview with Jordan Peterson, and it struck me (and by your own admission, you as well) that he is tapping into something that is actively causing large numbers of people to amend their lives and try to grow in virtue. Why is he so successful in an area where you and the Church (for whom this should be its "home turf") seem, increasingly, to be failing miserably?

BishopBarron9 karma

I do think Peterson has tapped into the Augustinian longing, by which I mean the hunger for God that is in every human heart. He had done this largely through a psychological reading of the Biblical texts, but it's an important first step.

es330td3 karma

I know this isn’t your typical AMA, but I am a 48 year old married Catholic discerning becoming a permanent deacon at my parish in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston when I turn 50. Will you pray for us as my wife, family and I go through this process?

BishopBarron2 karma

Absolutely. God bless you!

nahomyh3 karma

Hi Bishop Barron. Thank you SO MUCH for all you do! Recently, several friends have mentioned to me that they have found a sense of God and the transcendent through new age means like hallucinogenic herbs and mushrooms. They come back to it over and over again since they claim that it helps them every time to get a better sense of peace, self awareness and their environment (that they did not find in their previous church experiences). What would you say to those people? (particularly, since religion is a long term process, not an "instant gratification" type of thing)

BishopBarron3 karma

I would urge them to stick with contemplative prayer, the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, service of the poor, and the Mass. I'd be very wary of the "God" accessed through drugs and herbs.

Enderglitch6462 karma

Hello Bishop Barron, recent revert to Catholicism here. I’ve been reading your book on Thomas Aquinus and other Thomist media, and I have two questions to ask: 1) to what extent is philosophy informed by faith? 2) What about philosophy that is atheistic in nature, or blatantly anti-christian—is there anything to be drawn from these philosophies that can help us grow closer to God, just as St. Thomas used Aristotle?

BishopBarron7 karma

If you have the time and interest, I would recommend reading every philosopher. I've drawn some benefit from practically every thinker I've read, even from Nietzsche, Marx, Sartre, etc. Thomas dialogued with intellectuals way outside the ambit of Catholicism. He's a good role model.

BluntTheKnives2 karma

Hello and thanks for taking the time to do this. I admire and appreciate honest and passionate people of any religion.

Why do the vast majority of catholics, high hierarchies included, despise homosexuals citing one exact passage of the Bible, while not caring at all about eating shrimps or shaving, even if the Bible says the same things against all this three things?

BishopBarron4 karma

The Church does not despise homosexuals!

kimsky1232 karma

What are the most important things CCD teachers can teach their students about the faith?

BishopBarron6 karma

That it's not opposed to science or reason.

TheKingsPeace2 karma

Bishop Baron would you mind telling me the Catholic perspective of the city of the story of Sodom and Gommorah? Did God truly rain fire and destroy both cities, killing likely many innocents in the process?

The story just seems a bit far fetched to me. Thank you

BishopBarron3 karma

The stories of divine punishment in the Old Testament are designed to demonstrate the principles of spiritual "physics." Bad action leads to bad consequences. God isn't being capricious and arbitrary; but he allows people to experience the negativity that follows from sin.

TheRedPand-a2 karma

Proof where God exists?

BishopBarron3 karma

A contingent universe actually existing.

ImJustaBagofHammers2 karma

Do you believe there's any objective evidence that souls exist?

BishopBarron3 karma

Yes. The mind's capacity to conceive of sheer abstractions. When you know an abstraction as such, you have stepped out of the world of ordinary experience.

Budrunner2 karma

What's your input on Jordan Peterson's recent entrance into rehab? We're praying for him!

BishopBarron3 karma

I'm praying for him.

Gh0stbane1 karma

Good afternoon and may God bless you Bishop Barron!

I have many atheist/ agnostic friends, and a question they often posit to me is "how do we know our faith is the correct one?" I apologize if this has been asked already, but what would your answer be?

Also, I would love to know your favorite/patron Saint or prayer :)

Have a wonderful day Your Excellency!

BishopBarron2 karma

When comparing two religions, examine the arguments and evidence!