Bishop Robert Barron put to rest the New Atheist’s facile arguments against the faith by bringing forth the rich intellectual tradition of the Church. He exposed their arguments as reiterations of arguments the great theologians have already sufficiently answered. As Mundelein’s Rector, he was able to communicate this confidence in the Faith to the seminarians. He calls this approach “Affirmative Orthodoxy.” Unlike many Christians who say that the faith has to do with values and ideology, and not with the “real” world, Bishop Barron has repeatedly insisted that through Christ the true reality of the world is disclosed. This is not to say that those who do not believe in Christ have no access to the real world, but that Christ, as the Incarnate Logos through whom the world was created, is the One through whom we encounter not only God but also the world. Bishop Barron’s stress on the unity of faith and reason makes Fr. John Kartje, perhaps, his most fitting successor.
A man of science at the highest level, Fr. John Kartje is also a sophisticated Biblical scholar who is not concerned that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. Based on some of his remarks in a Northwestern University magazine, it seems that the more he knows the more he believes. He is a great example for the seminarians because he embodies the Church’s affirmation of faith and reason. The Church needs priests who will not shy away from science but take it up confidently, seeing all reality as the expression of the Logos. Hopefully, their enthusiasm for science will inspire many scientists to believe that the faith is the best ground upon which to stand in their confidence that the world is intelligible. I think Bishop Barron’s great claim is that without God there is no science. Fr. Kartje’s witness follows this line of thought, but emphasizes that science, when pursued with a pure heart, can only lead one to God.
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