Ross Douthat Is a Literary Fukushima

Bishop Barron, I’m just learning about current Church politics. So bear with me if I’m surveying the landscape and figuring things out.

Your Excellency, do you know about the New York Times? They don’t like the Church. They have attacked the Church in obvious, and in subtle, ways. If you don’t believe me, ask people in New York, or people who have read the Times regularly and seen the trends of its editors.

And the New York Times hired Ross Douthat.

In fact, Ross was given the place of neocon Bill Kristol.

Bishop, I like your Word on Fire. I know it’s helped many people. I’ve liked what I’ve read and seen of it, very much.

But for being an intrepid reader, and intelligent, how can you support Ross Douthat? I am perplexed by this.

Let’s go beyond Church politics for a moment, beyond the silly shallows of “liberal” and “conservative.”

Ross Douthat, an employee of the entirely zionist NY Times, is out to divide and hurt the Church. Look at the ennui and divisiveness that all his articles feature.

Bishop Barron, my argument is not with you. Since Douthat just invited battle, allow me to turn to him to make clear some things about his screeds.

Now, Ross Douthat. I’m just a former monk and then spent some time, you know, in the inner city of New York teaching and helping folks. So maybe you could tell me if I write bad or don’t cross my tee’s right.

In your today’s response to the letter from some rightfully alarmed people, you said, “Welcome to the battlefield.”

Let’s dance, Ross.

I am going to analyze your review of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’, which you mocked and trivialized. This you wrote in June, before you called the Pope “ostentatiously humble,” more recently.


Here’s the form of your essay that appears at

Ross, you start off by calling the encyclical “sprawling” in the fourth word of your review. I disagree with your word choice, but hey, you went to Harvard, so maybe you know something I don’t know.

But then your true colors start to show in the second paragraph. And your true colors are creepy, Ross. Here’s what you wrote:

“What everyone wants to know, of course, is whether the pope takes sides in our most polarizing debate. And he clearly does. After this document, there’s no doubting where Francis stands in the great argument of our time.”

Ross, your cheap rhetoric is showing.

Now, Bishop Barron, do you see how Ross is taking a holy encyclical and trying to divide the Catholic Church with his review of it? He casts a false net, by saying, “Everyone wants to know, of course . . . ” He delivers the encyclical to us in the context of a giant fight. He means to demote the Pope’s wonderful work into a mere minor voice in the grand divisive clash. But it’s not about an argument: It’s about saving the Earth, and Humanity.

And you are wrong in your assumption, Ross. I was not thinking anything like that when I stayed up all night to watch the press conference in Rome, and read Laudato Si’.

Why are you so intent on fomenting division in the Church, Ross?

Then Ross refers again to the disagreement that he so desperately wants to cause. Why does he focus on division, instead of on unity, and the beauty and hope that the encyclical is about? Why, Ross? Why are you being so sensationalist, and so divisive? Does it have to do with your paymasters at the New York Times? Are they driving you hard?

For your next trick, Ross, you utterly change the subject! You toss the Encyclical under the table! You ignore it, you throw it under the bus! While maintaining the “division” and “argument” themes, you also introduce new and totally unrelated topics that you invented yourself:

“But I don’t mean the argument between liberalism and conservatism. I mean the argument between the dynamists and the catastrophists.”

What nonsense is this, Ross? I don’t have time to waste on your serio-comical fantasies. I want to learn about the encyclical. The only reason I’m reading your article is 1) to show everyone how ludicrous it is, and 2) to show everyone your ill motives.

Instead of dealing with the encyclical of that Holy Man of the Slums, Pope Francis, we get diverted by Ross’ bizarre divisions of the human species. This is gobbledy-gook. And it’s contempt. And it’s avoidance of theology, which, evidently, you’re an expert on.

Ross, why don’t you focus on the good science of the document? Or how Pope Francis brilliantly connects ecology to the cultivation of Earth and love of the Cosmos? Why do you ignore the Deep Spirituality of Humanity, Creation, and God that permeate every page of the encyclical? Why do you ignore Pope Francis’ absolutely brilliant vision of the future of Humanity?!

What are your ulterior motives, Ross? Why are you doing this?

Back to your, um, your writing.

I can’t wait to hear about the “dynamists”:

“Dynamists are people who see 21st-century modernity as a basically successful civilization advancing toward a future that’s better than the past. They do not deny that problems exist, but they believe we can innovate our way through them while staying on an ever-richer, ever-more-liberated course.”

Ross, what are you talking about? I thought you were a Church conservative, who would be terrified by any such “innovation.” According to Ross, How dare the bishops and cardinals and Pope who want to make “innovations” to the ever-changing Church do innovative things to help people! But suddenly you, Ross, are welcoming innovations here.

You’re not too consistent, are you, Ross?

And then you mention your “ever-more-liberated course.” But isn’t this again what you’re currently complaining about, the liberation that the Pope wants to make for poor people around the globe? Not all of us went to Harvard, Ross. Some of us live in poor areas, where life is challenging, and to overcome difficulties in the social environment is a mammoth task. The Pope, and very many others, would help them.

Onward to your dividing of the “dynamists”:

“Dynamists of the left tend to put their faith in technocratic government; dynamists of the right, in the genius of free markets. But both assume that modernity is a success story whose best days are ahead.”

Did you actually say that?! Did you say: “The genius of the free markets?!” Ross, did you entirely miss 2008 and 2009? And everything since? Have you not yet heard about the global and national crashes that were caused by the unfettered greed of investment bankers, unleashed by the repeal of Glass-Steagall? Goldman Sachs knew the crash was coming, and made even more money on it. You need to watch the documentary “Inside Job,” Ross.

(By the way, Ross, even as greed-centric a person as George Soros is calling for the introduction of far stricter market controls. Even he is saying that the markets are not self-regulating entities, as proven by recent crises. They need mature oversight by conscious, responsible adults.)

Larry Summers got Glass-Steagall tossed, Ross. And he was at Harvard. Did you pow wow with Larry, Ross?

You’d probably want to block a new Glass-Steagall Act, without the courtesy of giving the poor any relief, while you bail out the bankers from the next huge crash.

Let’s merrily skip ahead to:

“This is a document aligned with the scientific consensus on climate that excoriates the modern scientific mindset as, in effect, a 500-year mistake.”

Now Ross, I taught my 8th Grade students that this kind of writing is incorrect—it’s what we call a “contradiction.” It needs to be edited. Let me see if I can help you. We know that Pope Francis is a scientist. Check. And you see that his document is aligned fully with science. Good. I’m with you so far, Ross. Your sentence starts out relatively clear.

But then you mumble a contradiction about excoriating “the modern scientific mindset,” after you just praised the document’s knowledge of science. Do you mean to say that the document is criticizing the unthinking over-reliance on technological production and consumerism that is devastating our societies and our planet? If that’s what you mean, then why didn’t you say so?

Back to the previous paragraph:

“But reading “Laudato Si’ “simply as a case for taking climate change seriously misses the depth of its critique — which extends to the whole “technological paradigm” of our civilization . . .”

Yes, the document does dive into questions requiring deep discernment.

But you miss, Ross, the real depths of the document. It points out the path of Human Evolution. It discusses how we can enter into a stunning deeper relationship with the Earth (and Cosmos). It hints at how we have hardly even begun to discover the wonder that is our human body, our “individual earth.” Pope Francis knows about that.

It calls for a stunning branching out of the Human Mind.

But why explore those great mystical realities and possibilities when you could be, say, polluting the intellectual air on behalf of the New York Times?

So Ross, in conclusion, thanks for wasting my time. Thanks for ignoring the great encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’.

But your half-baked, absurd ideas? No, you keep them. Your writing is a literary Fukushima.

Bishop Barron, time to wake up, sir. Defend the Church from her real enemies.

Ross Douthat, Happy Halloween.

And Ross—the battlefield is no place for a spoiled child. Back to your ivory tower.



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