The author of 10 books, he has posted more than 180 cultural commentaries on YouTube and delivers a weekly homily on Relevant Radio (WNTD-AM/950 in Chicago). He contributes guest blogs to CNN.com and ABC.com, adding pithy, pointed commentary to hot topics. He has filmed a 10-part documentary, “The Catholicism Project,” which he hopes will air on public television next year.
On Sunday, he will begin presenting a half-hour television show, “Word on Fire with Father Barron,” on WGN America. It's paid programming, the airwaves' equivalent of vanity publishing; his messages, from earlier DVDs, will air nationwide for 13 weeks (at 8:30 a.m. Sundays in Chicago). The airtime will be paid for by private donors; he declines to reveal the cost.
“My job is to bring the Catholic perspective to bear,” says the Rev. Barron, 50. Catholicism, he says, “has been underrepresented in the conversation.”
What a conversation it is. The church's sex-abuse scandal remains a global news story. Religion is an incendiary topic, from the ethics of stem-cell research to questions on the very existence of God, fueled by sophisticated “new atheists” such as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose anti- creationist “The Grand Design” is a non-fiction best seller.
The Rev. Barron is founder of Word on Fire Catholic Charities, a non-profit he launched in 2000 that supports his evangelistic endeavors and pays his salary, which he declines to reveal. (Word on Fire received 501[c]3 status in 2009; its IRS Form 990 is not yet available.) He is also a professor at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, where he teaches three courses a year.
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