Addressing a packed audience of approximately 1,000 on the campus of Harvard University on Sunday, Bishop Robert Barron offered those in attendance a window into the “Catholic intellectual tradition” by emphatically proclaiming: “The glory of God is man fully alive!”
The founder of the Catholic media apostolate Word on Fire, Barron is one of the most outspoken American prelates against the errors of “secularism” and its ever-increasing presence in Western society. Harvard, the first college established in the American colonies, was originally founded to train and educate Puritan clergy members in the New World and is completely secular today.
Barron said in his lecture that secularism is a reaction to what others perceive as a “threatening God” but said that “the world is most itself when it has found a relationship to the supreme good, which is God.”
Barron, who serves as bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, spoke at the school’s Memorial Church, an interdenominational Protestant church dedicated in 1932.
Deacon Tim O’Donnell, executive director of the Harvard Catholic Center — which co-sponsored the event — told CNA that “Harvard’s church” was the chosen destination for the lecture because it would attract “more non-Catholics, seekers, and inquirers” than St. Paul’s Parish, the Catholic church where Barron celebrated Mass and offered a homily earlier in the day.
Memorial Church’s larger capacity, he said, is better suited for the “spoken word.” What’s more, its location was highly symbolic.
“We wanted to place Bishop Barron’s message about the Catholic intellectual tradition right in the center of the secular university, and in the center of Harvard in particular,” O’Donnell said.
Barron began his talk by saying that the “most fundamental claim” of the Catholic intellectual tradition is that “Jesus Christ is epistemically basic.”
In other words, Barron said, Jesus Christ is the “privileged lens through which the whole of reality is read….”
Before answering several questions from the crowd, Barron concluded his lecture by saying that the Catholic intellectual tradition “stubbornly looks at God, the world, ourselves, and the way we organize our societies through the lens of Jesus Christ, and it sees them according to a divine light.”