New media evangeliser Fr Robert Barron to be a bishop

The priest believed to be the second most followed Catholic leader on social media has been appointed as an auxiliary bishop.

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Robert Barron as one of three new auxiliary bishops of Los Angeles.

Bishop-elect Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, host of the award-winning “Catholicism” film series, and since 2012 has served as the rector/president of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary near Chicago.

His website,, reaches millions of people each year and his regular YouTube videos have been viewed more than 13 million times.

Next to Pope Francis, he is the most-followed Catholic leader on social media, according to the Word on Fire website.

Bishop-elect Barron said he was surprised at his appointment, but accepts it with a humble and joyful heart.

He said he couldn’t think of “a more exciting field for this sort of work [the evangelisation of culture] than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centres of our time”.

Bishop-elect Barron said Word on Fire would continue to deliver his regular articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.

Planned projects, including a new film and study programme on God and atheism and a documentary series on prayer, will continue as planned with more to come.

Mgr Joseph Brennan and Irish-born Mgr David O’Connell have also been made auxiliary bishops for Los Angeles.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, who has reached retirement age.

Los Angeles is the largest archdiocese in the US by population, with about 4.3 million Catholics.

The archdiocese currently has four active auxiliary bishops and two retired auxiliaries (including Bishop Wilkerson).

“I think it is clear that in appointing these new auxiliary bishops, Pope Francis really understands what the Church needs – not just here in Los Angeles, but also in the United States and across the Americas,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement.


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