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VATICAN CITY, July 21, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Today Pope Francis named Fr. Robert Barron, rector of University of St. Mary and Mundelein Seminary, a new auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, along with two other priests: auxiliary bishop Msgr. Joseph Brennan, vicar and moderator of the Curia of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Msgr. David G. O'Connell, pastor of St. Michael's Parish in Los Angeles.
Father Barron is president of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, and is widely known for his Catholicism DVD series, used in numerous diocesan religious education programs. Notable in the 10-hour series is the fact that it devotes exactly five minutes to the topic of Hell.
While Fr. Barron has gained a reputation for being relatively orthodox on some theological matters, his doctrine on Hell remains controversial. He echoes Hans Urs von Balthazar's teaching that we have a "reasonable hope" that all men are saved, and that for all we know, Hell may be empty.
Father Barron's teaching contradicts the tradition of saints and doctors of the Church, who have said with unified voice that only a minority of mankind will be saved. Universalism, the idea that everyone is saved, is a heresy condemned by the Church at the Council of Constantinople in 553 AD. Although Barron claims he does not promote universalism, critics see it as universalism repackaged in a more palatable light. Doctor Ralph Martin, professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, has authored a book dismantling von Balthasar's (and thus Barron's) "reasonable hope" notion, and both men engaged in a sharp online exchange over the subject several years ago.
For a thorough analysis of Fr. Barron's Catholicism DVD series, see ChurchMilitant.com's full review here.
For recent commentary by Michael Voris on Fr. Barron's theology, watch this episode of the Vortex: