Caution! Vatican II speak ahead…

“Bishop” Robert Barron on whether Protestants should become Catholics

The Novus Ordo Sect’s flagship American media bishop — a man who is considered hip, erudite, telegenic, and theologically middle-of-the-road — is Robert Emmett Barron.

Born in Chicago and now auxiliary “bishop” in Los Angeles, he is reputed to be a great and model evangelizer as he uses social and traditional media to spread knowledge and love of the Vatican II religion. Many years ago he founded an apologetics ministry called Word on Fire and produced a 10-part documentary grossly misnamed Catholicism, which aired on PBS and is available now on DVD and streaming. More recently he established the Word on Fire Institute. Barron is the author of numerous books, including Arguing Religion: A Bishop Speaks at Facebook and Google. He is also a proponent of the “hell-may-be-empty” theory of the notorious Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a man John Paul II attempted to make a cardinal — but God had other plans.

Cameron Bertuzzi is a Protestant and host of the Capturing Christianity podcast on YouTube. On Sep. 22, 2020, Bertuzzi did a live interview with “Bp.” Barron and asked him point-blank: “Should I become Catholic?”

In the Vatican II religion, that question is not easy to answer. Depending on whom you ask in that church, you will get diametrically different answers, anywhere from “yes, for sure” to “no, don’t bother”, with a lot of “follow your conscience” in between.

One of the most high-level “no, don’t bother” replies came many years ago from then-“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, who once explicitly advised a Lutheran woman working in the Vatican as a translator not to convert to Catholicism. But he was by no means the only one. “Pope Saint” Paul VI, likewise, had once barred an Eastern schismatic wishing to become Catholic on the grounds that it would jeopardize ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox churches. So much for the “ecumenism aims at conversion” delusion certain conservative Novus Ordos still entertain.

“Follow your conscience” is probably the answer one would get from “Fr.” James Martin, or from “Pope” Francis, who wastes no opportunity to confirm unbelievers in their false religions.

So, what answer did “Bp.” Barron give his interlocutor? He said: “Yes, is my blunt answer… because it’s the fullness of truth, and I want to share that with you.” That is the succinct version of his longer answer, which can be watched in the following clip, excerpted from the full video:

It is worth watching the whole clip because it reveals a lot about Vatican II theology. Barron justifies his answer on the grounds that he wants to share the fullness of truth with the Protestant questioner. He elaborates: “It’s something I’ve come to love and reverence as the fullness of truth…. All the gifts Christ wants His people to have, why wouldn’t I want to share those with you? Why wouldn’t I want to offer all that to you?”

Notice that Barron places the emphasis on the subjective side of things: He (Barron) has a wish of sharing something with the Protestant based on his own religious experience. This may seem like a legitimate approach at first, but notice that because of its subjective slant, truth is actually relativized. By Barron’s logic, a Muslim (for instance) would have no less justification for sharing his religion with Bertuzzi: He has come to love and reverence Mohammed as God’s prophet and the Koran as God’s revelation, and he wants to share that with others. On what grounds could Barron oppose Muslim proselytism? He couldn’t. That, dear readers, is Vatican II theology.

As Pope St. Pius X asked rhetorically, “On what grounds can Modernists deny the truth of an experience affirmed by a follower of Islam? Will they claim a monopoly of true experiences for Catholics alone? Indeed, Modernists do not deny, but actually maintain, some confusedly, others frankly, that all religions are true” (Encyclical Pascendi, n. 14). Granted, Pope Pius X spoke in a slightly different context — Barron is not claiming, as classical Modernists do, that experience makes truth. However, by grounding the reason for evangelization in one’s own religious conviction rather than in the objective divine mandate (see Mt 28:19-20; cf. 2 Jn 9), Barron is relativizing all proselytism, making it relative to one’s person. Thus he is building the house of evangelization on sand (cf. Mt 7:26-27).

Yet, Barron’s approach is fully in line with, because the fruit of, Vatican II theology. No wonder these people believe in religious liberty and the “right” to practice any religion in public, as supposedly a human right which every man possesses in virtue of his humanity or human dignity (see Vatican II, Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, n. 2). Sadly, it must not have occurred to these master theologians that the reason for preaching the true Gospel and offering the message of salvation to souls steeped in the darkness of sin and unbelief can hardly be the same reason that members of false religions can have for promoting what is in truth the work of the devil! (Notice that we are speaking objectively here. We are not implying that all the members of false religions are evil or of bad will, or that they are all knowingly in error; we are only observing that the religions they profess are not the religion revealed by God but the fruit of the deceits of the devil.)

People who are somewhat surprised at Barron’s blunt “yes” to Bertuzzi’s question should remember that the matter was phrased a bit imprecisely. Bertuzzi asked whether he should — not whether he must — become a Catholic, so of course Barron was going to answer in the affirmative. After all, his entire apostolate exists to persuade people that they should be Catholic (well, Novus Ordo, really). But to say that someone should do something is one thing; to say that he must do it in order to be saved, is quite a different matter.

Thus, anticipating a rejoinder of, “Does that mean I’m damned [if I don’t convert]?”, Barron is quick to assuage any potential concerns a Protestant may have upon hearing his affirmative answer as to the “appropriateness” of converting to Catholicism: “No, no, that’s not Catholic teaching”, he says. “You know, a non-Catholic, even a non-Christian, can be saved.”

That that would be Barron’s position was clear from the get-go, considering that in 2018, he notoriously told Jewish radio host Ben Shapiro that our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is merely the “privileged route to salvation” and one he did not have to accept — a sort of ennobled turnpike, it seems, whereas paths of lesser nobility are also available, leading to the same destination, although the journey may take longer and be fraught with more dangers and distractions. The very fact that our Blessed Lord Himself directly contradicted such nonsense — He taught unequivocally, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6) — was not addressed by the Chicago-born powerhouse of Novus Ordo evangelization.

Now we know why his ministry is called The Word on Fire.

Robert Barron at work…

How does what Barron says differ from the traditional Catholic position? It differs in that the real Roman Catholic sees the Protestant as being unhappily caught in the tentacles of a false religion, which is “necessarily … sunk in the most pernicious errors” and therefore a means of damnation. Hence the Catholic desires the heretic to convert out of his false religion and into the only true one. He strives to transfer him out of a false church, “guided by the spirit of the devil”, into the true one, “guided by the Holy Ghost” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Article IX).

It is not a matter of advancing from partial truth to the fullness of truth, as Barron and Novus Ordos in general love to misleadingly phrase it, but of transferring from a vehicle of damnation to the Ark of Salvation, from a false religion to the only true one.

It can certainly be granted that Protestantism contains certain truths (plural), that is, some individual doctrines that happen to be true. For instance, most Protestant sects teach that Jesus Christ is the only Savior. That is true. However, that does not make their religions true, it merely means that despite their many damnable heresies, they have retained some true doctrines; and the only reason they have those, it must not be glossed over, is that they stole them from the Roman Catholic Church, which alone is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

Contrary to what Vatican II and its proponents like to argue (see Lumen Gentium, n. 8), a few true doctrines in false religions do not make them “partially Catholic” or “good enough” for salvation. If anything, whatever truth is contained in false religions makes them per se all the more dangerous.

Consider the fiery words of Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, who wrote in his celebrated and Vatican-approved work Liberalism is a Sin (1886):

Heresy under a charming disguise is a thousand times more dangerous than heresy exposed in the harsh and arid garb of the scholastic syllogism— through which the death’s skull grins in unadorned hideousness. … Shall we crown these condemners of our faith with the laurels of our praises and laud them for the very qualities which alone make them dangerous! And for what purpose? That we may appear impartial? No. Impartiality is not permissible when it is distorted to the offense of truth, whose rights are imprescriptible. A woman of bad life is infamous, be she ever so beautiful, and the more beautiful, the more dangerous.

(Rev. Felix Sarda y Salvany, Liberalism is a Sin, Chapter 18)

That is a devastating blow to Vatican II’s patchwork ecclesiology of “elements”, according to which false religions “participate” in Catholic truth to the extent that their doctrines agree with Catholic doctrines. The absurdity of this idea can be seen more easily when applying it to the moral realm, as the October 2014 Synod did.

Further on in his exchange with Mr. Bertuzzi, Mr. Barron applies the same principle to the concept of salvation, with predictably disastrous results:

Jesus is the fulness of salvation. If anyone is saved, he or she is saved through Christ. But there are participations in the grace of Christ on offer even in other Christian religions, even in non-Christian religions. Vatican II goes so far as to say even in a non-believer of good will following his conscience, is in fact [sic] following and responding to the grace of Christ, though he doesn’t clearly know that.

This kind of theological poppycock is precisely what Pope Pius XII had in mind when he scolded the crypto-Modernists of his day: “Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation” (Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 27).

That is exactly what Barron is doing here. He dilutes the necessity of the Church for salvation to such an extent that even an idolater and an atheist can be saved (as Francis said), just in and through Christ somehow, without them even knowing. Thus there is nothing left of the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church (see Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam; Denz. 468) but a meaningless, empty formula. There is nothing left of the infallible truth that “without Faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6) but mere lip service, if even that. (In the video clip, Barron brings up Cardinal Newman — for a Catholic response on that, please see our post “Pope St. Pius X on Cardinal John Henry Newman”.)

The Novus Ordo position enunciated by Barron is a shrewd variation of the old heresy of Indifferentism, according to which it does not matter what religion one espouses, at least as long as one retains some kind of moral code. Not surprisingly, this was firmly denounced by true Popes:

Indeed this deadly idea concerning the lack of difference among religions is refuted even by the light of natural reason. We are assured of this because the various religions do not often agree among themselves. If one is true, the other must be false; there can be no society of darkness with light. Against these experienced sophists the people must be taught that the profession of the Catholic faith is uniquely true, as the apostle proclaims: one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5].

(Pope Pius VIII, Encyclical Traditi Humilitati, n. 4)

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism” [Eph 4:5] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him” [Lk 11:23], and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate” [Athanasian Creed].

(Pope Gregory XVI, Encyclical Mirari Vos, n. 13; underlining added; bold and italics removed.)

[CONDEMNED:] Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.

[CONDEMNED:] Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.

(Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, nn. 16-17)

Barron’s more polished version of Indifferentism also leads to “that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy” (Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 2), inasmuch as grace and salvation are predicated of them to some extent or another as “participations” in the salvation offered by Christ. It is grotesque!

For Barron, then, and for all Novus Ordos, a Protestant who converts to (the Novus Ordo version of) Catholicism, goes from good to better, or from good to best. For a Roman Catholic, by contrast, a Protestant who converts to Catholicism transfers out of the kingdom of Satan and into the Kingdom of God — “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Col 1:13). This Catholic position is clearly reflected by Pope Leo XIII in his 1884 encyclical letter against Freemasonry:

The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, “through the envy of the devil,” separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Humanum Genus, n. 1; underlining added.)

Note well: There is the Kingdom of God, which is the Catholic Church, and there is the kingdom of Satan, which is “this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). There is nothing in between — all people fall into the one camp or the other.

Not that mere membership in the Catholic Church suffices for salvation — far from it — but it is necessary for all men to be joined to the Catholic Church, either as members or at least through sanctifying grace in Faith, hope, and charity. (For an in-depth explanation of the Catholic teaching of No Salvation Outside the Church, we recommend John Daly’s treatment of the subject in Chapter XI of his book Michael Davies – An Evaluation, available for free download here. Also see the new book Contra Crawford by Christopher Conlon and Dylan Fellows, refuting the errors of the so-called Feeneyites.)

As bad as Barron’s response to Bertuzzi has been so far, we’re not done yet. As a follow-up to the theological twaddle his guest just threw at him, the Protestant host asks why then he is not permitted to receive Holy Communion when attending a Catholic Mass (he is referring, of course, to the bread handed out at the Novus Ordo worship service, but he doesn’t know that).

Again, for a Roman Catholic the answer is clear and straightforward: Heretics (i.e. baptized non-Catholics) are not permitted to receive Catholic sacraments because they are not in union with the Catholic Church and are therefore objectively outside of the communion of salvation. They do not profess the true Faith (ordinarily they do not even believe in the dogma of the Real Presence) and they are not subject to the Roman Pontiff, thus they have no right to receive the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, regardless of whatever good intentions and other positive subjective dispositions they might have.

It would be a profanation of the Blessed Sacrament if a non-Catholic were to receive it, for he does not meet the requirements for worthy reception of this Priceless Gift (cf. Mt 7:6; 1 Cor 11:29). This is not meant as a personal slight to well-meaning Protestants; in fact, not even Catholics themselves are permitted to approach Holy Communion if they are not in the state of sanctifying grace or have not kept the Eucharistic fast.

Besides, if Protestants were to receive Holy Communion, it would not avail them to grace and salvation but would constitute a mortal sin, confirming them further on the path of perdition on which they already unhappily find themselves: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:29); “Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark” (Pope Pius VIII, Encyclical Traditi Humilitati, n. 4).

So, how does “Bp.” Barron answer the question about why a Protestant cannot partake of the Holy Eucharist? Not surprisingly, his response has Vatican II all over it: He tells Bertuzzi that he would refuse him “Holy Communion” out of respect for him and his Protestant unbelief with regard to the Holy Eucharist. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up! This is so asinine, it hardly needs refutation!

We will, however, make one important related observation: By premising his refusal of Communion to a Protestant on the grounds that the non-Catholic does not believe that what he would be receiving is the true Body and Blood of Christ, Barron grants in principle that Protestants can receive the Holy Eucharist as long as they believe in the Real Presence. (Since there are as many Protestantisms as there are Protestants, one does occasionally find individual Protestants who subscribe to the dogma of Transubstantiation — simply because they have personally been convinced of its truth by theological demonstration.) And that, once again, is precisely what Novus Ordo doctrine calls for:

While it is never legitimate to concelebrate [the New Mass] in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

(“Pope” John Paul II, “Encyclical” Ecclesia De Eucharistia, n. 45)

This is also legislated in Canon 844 of the unholy ecclesiastical law of the Vatican II Sect:

3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

(John Paul II, Novus Ordo Code of Canon Law [1983], Canon 844.3-4)

Thus, in his interview with Mr. Bertuzzi, “Bp.” Barron has once again proven himself a loyal adherent of the Vatican II religion — rather than of Roman Catholicism.

In order to avoid any potential misunderstanding, we must clarify that we have absolutely no animosity towards any Protestant who is sincerely seeking to do God’s will, and it is clear that there are many such. Presumably, Cameron Bertuzzi is one of them. It is a crying shame that, although he asked for the bread of Catholic truth, Barron gave him the stone of Vatican II (cf. Lk 11:11).

Pope Pius IX summarized quite beautifully the attitude a Catholic should have towards members unhappily caught up in heretical sects:

But God forbid that the sons of the Catholic Church ever in any way be hostile to those who are not joined with us in the same bonds of faith and love; but rather they should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and “being fruitful in every good work” [Colossians 1:10], they may attain eternal salvation.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 9)

A Protestant who hears Barron’s false gospel will be comfortable remaining a Protestant, especially if the Protestantism he subscribes to teaches that Catholics go to hell. For then he will wager with himself: If Catholicism is true and he remains a Protestant, he can still be saved; whereas, if Protestantism is true and he becomes a Catholic, he will be damned.

Thus we see that because he is a Vatican II apologist and not a Roman Catholic, Robert Barron continually deprives people of the spiritual Truth they need for their eternal salvation, substituting instead a cheap counterfeit that may look Catholic on the surface but ultimately cannot nourish the soul.

We call him the “robber baron” for a reason.

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