Here’s how a golf-obsessed bishop welcomed Pope Francis to the US

Sharon Wong
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Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is a man after our own hearts. In a keynote address he delivered on the first day of Pope Francis’ visit to the US at the World Meeting of Families, this man of God proved to be very much a part of every golfer’s world by peppering his speech with golf analogies and a reference to Golf Digest. He described himself as “a typical American” who likes to play golf but is “horrible at it”.

So how did he work golf into a speech fit for none other than the Pope? Apparently, in quite a profound way.

-Barron claimed following golf rules seriously was very much like improving one’s spirituality.

-He said true freedom came from living within the framework’s of God’s law. To illustrate, he said that that no golf novice would get anywhere if told to swing as he liked. Instead, he had to strive to swing in a disciplined, correct manner in order to achieve anything. He used himself as an example, stating that when he started out, he was swinging an 8 iron as he pleased. It was only when a pro-golfer taught him how to really use a club that he started to move forward. The lesson to take from this? Just being yourself doesn’t get you anywhere in golf or in life.

You may not be fully on board with the whole “don’t be yourself” spiel, but well, you can’t deny that he’s used golf very artfully in a speech that had nothing to do with it. Plus, Bishop Barron wins bonus points for somehow involving golf in his daily routine even off the course, “I often grab my pitching wedge and hit plastic golf balls across the room,” he admitted when talking about an average day at the office.

Let’s hope Pope Francis appreciates the sentiments, even if he doesn’t completely understand them.