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November 19, 2011: Alabama online news source,, featured an article on Father Barron and CATHOLICISM. 

Read the article here.

November 19, 2011: Alabama online news source,, featured an article on Father Barron and CATHOLICISM:

The Rev. Robert Barron, a professor of faith and culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago, has become a nationally known TV priest with a flair for dramatic storytelling.

He's the creator and host of "Catholicism," a documentary film series that has recently been airing on PBS stations across the country and on EWTN Global Catholic Network.

It's a $3 million project that included filming in 16 different countries, including Israel, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, India, Greece and Uganda. He began filming in June 2008 and finished in fall 2010.

"The basic goal is evangelization," Barron said in an interview after a stop at EWTN headquarters. "I had this dream project of a grand, sweeping documentary. I wanted to show the international quality of the faith on film."

He took all 10 episodes to a PBS affiliate in Chicago, which agreed to show four episodes and syndicate them to other stations. Since Oct. 13, more than 100 public television stations nationwide have aired it. Those four episodes focused on Jesus, God, Mary, Peter and Paul.

Then Barron took the remaining six episodes to EWTN, the Catholic network based in Irondale. Those dealt with the institution of the Catholic Church and its liturgy and theology, topics more suited to a Catholic network.

"It's an insider, a Catholic priest, talking about Catholicism," Barron said. "I didn't know if anyone would pick it up. I was delighted with the response."

In an episode on saints of the church, Barron went to Calcutta, India, to offer an overview of the life of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997.

"I've never seen poverty as wrenching as that, and to see Mother Teresa's sisters working there among the poor was very moving," he said.

Shows the good

With some of the greatest artists, writers, scientists, art and architecture in world history intertwined with the church, he had a lot to work with.

Barron shot footage in the stomping grounds of Dante, Aquinas, Michelangelo and other great figures in church history. He used the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Gardens in Rome and a Vatican Observatory in Arizona as backdrops. He shot scenes at the Sea of Galilee and in Jerusalem.

"I wanted to inspire Catholics and give them a broader view," he said. "The church has always evangelized through beauty."

One of his motivations was to put the church in a broader perspective beyond its recent sexual abuse scandals.

"It's the worst crisis in the history of the American Catholic Church," Barron said. "I didn't want 2,000 years of art, architecture, theology and the saints forgotten and relegated to a focus on our current crisis."

Still, the devil gets his due.

"I deal with the dark side of the church, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the sex abuse scandal," he said. "As St. Paul said, 'We hold the treasure of Christ in earthen vessels.' Lots of people have done sinful things in the name of Christ. Certainly priests and bishops have done wicked things. Human beings are a bad lot. We mess up whatever we touch. With 2,000 years of church history, finding wickedness is like shooting fish in a barrel. But the message of the church remains Christ and the new power he unleashed in the world."

The church is a human, fallible attempt to carry that message, he said.

"It's a repository of western civilization," Barron said. "We found so many things that are beautiful and culturally compelling and important."

Barron, 51, was inspired by Kenneth Clark's "Civilisation," a 1969 documentary series on BBC and PBS.

"That show had a big impact on me," he said. "Kenneth Clark was director for the National Gallery in London and he was an evangelist for western civilization."

In essence, "Catholicism" is a church version of that defense of western civilization.

"I wanted to give a reasonable and rational basis for the faith," Barron said. "There's a great confluence between science and faith when properly construed."

While inspiring Catholics, he hopes he touched a chord in society at large.

"Anyone who has a hunger for the fullness of truth has a hunger for God, because God is truth itself, God is justice, God is goodness. The quest for truth is a quest for God."

Read the entire article here.
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