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Barron to be appointed Minnesota bishop

Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron will be appointed to lead the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota on Thursday, sources close to the process confirmed to The Pillar on Wednesday.

The appointment comes in the wake of several high-profile employee departures from Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate,

Where the bishop and other senior leaders have been accused of mishandling allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of a former employee.

Barron’s pending appointment to the southern Minnesota diocese was first reported Wednesday by “Whispers in the Loggia” writer Rocco Palmo,

And was confirmed to The Pillar by several sources close to the process.

Barron has served as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since 2015.

He was before that rector/president of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary and University of St. Mary of the Lake.

The prelate is best known as the founder of Word on Fire, the independent Catholic media apostolate he started before he was a seminary rector.

Word on Fire has grown to produce popular video series, as well as publishing books, a YouTube channel, and a considerable presence on social media.

As a result, Barron has often taken a lead among the US bishops’ discussions on media and evangelization, previously chairing the USCCB’s committee on evangelization and catechesis,

Before his election to chair the committee on laity, family life, and youth last November.

Word on Fire began when Barron was a Chicago priest broadcasting homilies on a local radio station.

With the support of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, the priest began a ministry of engagement and apologetics on the internet, which gradually grew to include a small staff.

In 2011, the organization - an Illinois non-profit - published “Catholicism,” a documentary miniseries on the faith, which was broadcast on PBS stations.

The popular series is credited with encouraging or engaging many Catholics in the faith,

And Word on Fire developed other catechetical and evangelical media projects, which were generally well-received by other U.S. bishops.

Barron became an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 2015, and has continued to be the face of Word on Fire.

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