Here’s what Bishop Barron said about his future with Word on Fire
St. Louis, Mo., Jun 3, 2022 / 17:18 pm
Bishop Robert Barron, whom Pope Francis appointed this week to lead the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, said in a Thursday press conference that he will continue to create content for the media apostolate he founded, but that there is “no ambiguity” in his mind that his work as bishop is his primary role.
Barron is the founder and face of Word on Fire, an Illinois-based Catholic multimedia organization that produces blogs, podcasts, books, videos, and educational materials. Barron, widely known for his “Catholicism” series that aired on PBS, has served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Archbishop Jose Gomez since 2015. Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, on June 2.
Describing Word on Fire as his “pride and joy,” Barron said that although he has always contributed a lot of content to Word on Fire, “I’ve never been involved in its day-to-day management.” He said Word on Fire has historically taken up “about 10% of my time.”
When asked about whether he will continue with his role at Word on Fire now that he is an ordinary, Barron said he will continue to do audio recordings of his weekly columns and homilies. Word on Fire has main offices in Chicago and Dallas, he said, plus a small office in his former home base of Santa Barbara. He said he plans to bring that small office with him to Rochester, Minnesota.
Absent from the Thursday press conference was a discussion of recent questions raised about the workplace culture of Word on Fire. In recent weeks, Word on Fire has faced claims that its leaders mishandled charges of sexual impropriety related to the personal life of a high-ranking Word on Fire staffer.
Word on Fire has said that the process of handling the misconduct of the Word on Fire employee, Joseph Gloor, was undertaken by a sub-committee of Word on Fire’s board of directors, not by Barron.
Gloor ultimately was fired after an investigation, but a few anonymous former employees have said that they were left feeling discouraged and uncomfortable by the episode, and by certain aspects of the workplace culture at Word on Fire. Several staff members, including Catholic speakers Jackie and Bobby Angel and editor-at-large Elizabeth Scalia, announced their departure from Word on Fire amid the controversy in May.