Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles said his new book addressing the church’s sexual abuse crisis and urging Catholics to “stay and fight for the body of Christ” comes from his “pastor’s heart”.
“It is simply my statement coming out of my whole life as a Catholic – 33 years as a priest, almost four years as a bishop,” he said in a podcast posted on YouTube on Monday, the release date of his book “Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis”.
“It was my pastor’s heart that wanted to say something to the people of God,” added the bishop.
The book was published by Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, which was founded by Bishop Barron. He gave an overview of the 125-page book in the podcast with Brandon Vogt, Word on Fire’s content director.
In both the podcast and the book’s preface, Bishop Barron strongly emphasised he is speaking for himself and that the new volume is not an official statement of the US bishops.
It is his attempt, he explained, to respond to the pastoral needs of Catholics demoralised by the abuse crisis and who are grieving over what it is doing to the Church. He said he wants to give them encouragement and hope and show “that there is a clear path forward for us today”.
Bishop Barron said that as the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s regional bishop for the Santa Barbara area, he has seen first-hand the grief of many Catholics over the abuse scandal. In the wake of the scandal over former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick last summer and fall, as he visited parishes in his region, many people “came up to me not so much in anger but in deep grief, I would say, with tears in their eyes, in grief over the Church”.
“The book, the letter is my attempt to respond to that pastoral need — so it is not more or less than that,” he added.
There are five chapters titled: “The Devil’s Masterpiece”, “Light From Scripture”, “We have Been Here Before”, “Why Should we Stay” and “The Way Forward”. There is a concluding section followed by a “Prayer for a Suffering Church.”
“I have written this book for my fellow Catholics who feel, understandably, demoralised, scandalised, angry beyond words and ready to quit,” he said in the preface. “What I finally urge my brothers and sisters in the Church to do is to stay and fight – and to do so on behalf of themselves and their families, but especially on behalf of those who have suffered so grievously at the hands of wicked men.”
He added: “My prayer is that these reflections might encourage Catholics who are attempting to navigate today in very choppy waters.”
Catholic News Service