An Anonymous writer asks: “I have a Protestant friend who is very interested in the writings/teachings of Fr. Richard Rohr. I’m afraid my friend may be getting wrong ideas about our Church. I don’t know why I have a strange feeling about this Priest, when I really know next to nothing about what he teaches. Do you know if his writings are orthodox and loyal to the Magesterium? Am I completely off-base, or should my friend be warned about Fr. Rohr?”
But before I begin, because this is a special year dedicated to priests, can I ask everyone to stop right here and say a brief prayer for priests? A quick Hail Mary, Glory Be, anything. Like so many of our priests, Fr. Richard Rohr could certainly use the prayers.
Here is what I can tell you about him.
Fr. Rohr is deeply involved in the New Age. On the website for his Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC), a “training and formation center” based in Albuquerque, New Mexico that he founded in 1987, he says the purpose of his work is to provide “a faith alternative to the dominant consciousness” (whatever that means).
The CAC was a well-known hub for the Church’s premier dissent group in the U.S., better known as Call to Action (endorses women’s ordination, homosexuality, goddess worship, etc.). He is also involved with the homosexual advocacy group, Soul Force. The website of Soulforce carries a letter written by Fr. Rohr (dated 2000) supporting this organization’s mission of non-violent resistance to the “spiritual violence” perpetrated against “gay,” lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons by social and religious groups.
Fr. Rohr has also been a long-time teacher of the Enneagram, an enormously popular New Age gimmick used for discerning one’s personality type. A specific warning against the use of the Enneagram for spiritual direction is included in the pontifical document, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life (see http://bit.ly/hnTu)
Fr. Rohr also teaches a New Age version of contemplation known as Centering Prayer (see http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=51 )
Another area where he is heavily involved is in the Emerging Church Movement, which consists of a diverse group of people who identify with Christianity but think its beliefs and teachings need to be “updated” to better conform to modern society (read compromise the faith).
Fr. Rohr participates in Emerging Church conferences and workshops alongside the leaders of this movement, such as Brian McClaren, a “theologian” who thinks the current version of Christianity only partialy reflects the truth. Another player, Phyllis Tickle, recently told an audience that “By eating the body and blood of our God, we are feeding the god within us . . .”
I think you get the drift.
Unfortunately, Fr. Rohr is able to promulgate his questionable belief system by being a prolific writer, publishing a quarterly journal, Radical Grace, and authoring more than 15 books thus far. His latest work, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics is currently #1 at Amazon for books dealing with mysticism. (Whether or not it teaches Catholic mysticism I can’t say because I haven’t read the book, but judging by what I already know about him, I have plenty of reason to doubt it.)
This translates into a wide audience for a version of Catholicism that does not conform to the Magisterium.
Fr. Bryce Sibley, STL, after having read one of his books, concluded that “Fr. Richard Rohr adheres to some very questionable, if not dangerous, beliefs.” In this article (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6819 ), he lists several serious flaws in Fr. Rohr’s teachings, such as his assertion that the crucifixion wasn’t necessary because the Incarnation was all that was needed to redeem humanity.
Fr. Rohr also has a “weak understanding” of original sin, Fr. Sibley said, noting that “without a proper understanding of Original Sin, Christ is reduced to nothing more than a prophet who teaches us to love ourselves, and this is unfortunately who Rohr’s Christ turns out to be.”
I could go on and on, but I think you have the general idea that this is a priest in need of prayer whose writings and activities do not reflect the true teachings of the Church. Please pray for him!