Richard Rohr


RICHARD ROHR: There’s no place where you can’t pray.

JUDY VALENTE, correspondent: Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest, is addressing a packed house at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

ROHR: I love beautiful spaces. But if creating beautiful spaces like this for one moment leads you to think that God is not equally out there on the streets of Portland, then religion is not doing its job.

VALENTE: For the past 25 years, Rohr, a Franciscan [priest], has run the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. He calls himself a “radical traditionalist.” For example:

ROHR: It’s not correct to say Jesus is God. Now, don’t run and report me to the bishop, all right? It’s not correct to say that — Jesus is the union of the human and the divine. That’s different. I’ve been a priest 43 years. Most of the Catholics Christians I’ve met would for all practical purposes believe Jesus is God only, and we are human only. We missed the big point. The point is the integration, both in Jesus and ourselves.

VALENTE: Such provocative ideas make him an enigma to some, and a modern day prophet to others. Richard Rohr is one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world. His ideas appeal to people across faith traditions, and to spiritual seekers as well. Rohr argues that most organized religions dispense doctrine when they should be encouraging personal transformation.

post01-richardrohrROHR: Without transformation, you can assume you’re at a high moral, spiritual level just because you call yourself Lutheran or Methodist or Catholic. I think my great disappointment as a priest has been to see how little actual spiritual curiosity there is in so many people.

VALENTE: Rohr’s popularity may be surprising since his ideas are highly nuanced and draw deeply from mythology, philosophy and psychology. He’s lectured across the globe. And his books have been translated into numerous languages. His latest book is called “Falling Upward,” and addresses the importance of the spiritual journey.

ROHR: It feels like falling but it isn’t falling, it’s learning. It’s transcending.

VALENTE: In what he calls the first half of life, Rohr says we’re mostly concerned with everyday interests: building our self-image.

ROHR: Our culture is made to order for that. Defining the self almost entirely by external achievements, by external appearance, by skin color, by the car you drive, where you live, and so forth. You know, that… all great spiritual traditions will call that illusion. Illusion. Foolishness. There’s a further journey. There’s something more than, you know, accumulating more money in the stock market.

VALENTE: But in the second part of life, the spiritual part, we are more likely to see meaning in the losses, disappointments and failures we have suffered. It is not necessarily a chronological period. It can occur at any age, but is always characterized by a greater ability to appreciate mystery and paradox.

post02-richardrohrROHR: It’s the holding of tensions, of ambiguity, of pain, if you will, that in fact teaches us wisdom. There’s an increased capacity for compassion, forgiveness, love.

VALENTE: He calls himself a loyal Catholic, but maintains too many churches emphasize teaching, which can leave us stranded in a “religious comfort zone.”

ROHR: We ask Catholics to believe that Mary was a Virgin and Jesus is God and you know, that’s no skin off your back. I believe that. Believe that, believe that, believe that. So what?

VALENTE: Rohr says that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and that religious doctrine has its place. But he maintains that a rigid adherence to doctrine is sometimes part of the problem.

ROHR: Without honest self-knowledge religion ends up, I’m going to say it, being more a part of the problem than the solution. I mean, we’ve seen it now for centuries, that people who call themselves Christian can be utterly racist, utterly sexist, utterly greedy, no questions asked. This is the kind of religion we end up with when you don’t do your shadowboxing.

VALENTE: Shadowboxing, to Rohr, means taking a hard look at our flaws, our weaknesses and biases. It’s an important first step, Rohr says, toward uncovering what he calls “the true self.”

post03-richardrohrROHR: The spiritual life is very much a matter of cleaning the lens, clarifying how you see. So the shadow is what you don’t want to see. Shadowboxing never stops, that you keep seeing the parts of yourself that are paranoid, angry, defensive, accusatory, fearful, attacking.

VALENTE: Rohr calls solitude “a cure for loneliness” and describes it as an essential element for living a more contemplative — and compassionate — life.

ROHR: Whenever you have a return to solitude and silence, you know that there’s been a rediscovery of the contemplative mind. I think we should close down every pastoral program in a diocese and just teach our people how to pray. It’s the built-in therapy to let go of your addiction to yourself and to your repetitive obsessive thoughts, which just screws up just about everything.

Without the contemplative mind, which at this point in history we have to be taught, you simply don’t have the wherewithal to deal with great spiritual truths.

VALENTE: According to Rohr, our society has plenty of elderly people, but lacks true “elders.”

ROHR: Elder is a capacity of soul that allows you to patiently understand things, and again I’m going to repeat our word for that is wisdom. It is not chronological maturity. It’s how you’ve dealt with the dark side and how successfully you’ve dealt with disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, failure, and rejection.

post04-richardrohrVALENTE: Do you think that the spiritual journey only begins in earnest when we hit rock bottom?

ROHR: Only at that point which they call powerlessness do you learn to draw upon a bigger source. There’s no other reason you will. And that’s what I would call the spiritual journey. Up to that point, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but up to that point it’s largely religion. Religion isn’t bad, but until religion becomes actual spiritual experience, it is just religion.

I think of the Catholic parents who’ve demanded that their kids go to Mass every Sunday, but then they’re sitting there themselves bored to death and hate every minute of it and walk out early and, I mean, the kids knows by three, “This is not a good thing to go to Mass,” you know?

VALENTE: The things he sometimes says have, so far, not gotten him into trouble with the official church.

ROHR: You can’t just have Catholic truth, Methodist truth, Buddhist truth. If it’s true, it’s always true, and that’s what we mean by the perennial tradition. This desire to find the big patterns that are always true. I think that’s been my desire and right on the heels of that has been my equal desire to show that Christianity has always taught those truths. So in that sense I’m very traditional Catholic, even though I often say it in different ways that make people think I’m not.

VALENTE: He maintains he’s neither a skeptic, nor a rebel. He speaks of faith and mystery this way:

ROHR: I love to define mystery as not that which is unknowable, but that which is endlessly knowable. So you never get to the point where I know it all. And wouldn’t we assume that would be the nature of God? That God will always by definition be mystery. More knowability, more knowability, deeper experience, deeper surrender. So that’s the meaning of faith, and why faith has such power, not just to transform people but to keep them on an ongoing path of transformation and growth.

VALENTE: To take that path, Rohr says, is to choose a life of growth, over spiritual stagnation.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Judy Valente in Portland, Oregon.

  • The Rev. Henry Galganowicz

    Richard! we should talk! I’ve been preaching this for around 15 yrs.


  • Donald C Wobser

    I am a cradle Catholic because my mother received her faith as internal knowledge seasoned with many hard life experiences and glued together by daily prayer (all through the day and every day).
    As I experienced my life and my family grew, I too grew—–and found God all around me, especially in the people He has put all around each of us wherever we are planted.
    Rohr’s words speak loudly to my heart. Yes, we shadowbox sometimes but with persistance we get a little better at hearing Him in our hearts. I like his way of expressing his journey toward God.
    Our actions must help eachother live going toward God in this life and then perhaps each person will grow into a better reflection of our Creator.

  • Gail Finke

    “Such provocative ideas” ? Like the whole fully human/fully divine thing hashed out at the Council of Nicea? Richard Rohr is controversial, but not because of saying things like, “Jesus is the union of the human and the divine… The point is the integration, both in Jesus and ourselves.” He is controversial because of HOW he proposes we live the truth of the Incarnation, not because he proclaims it.

  • Terry Cabrin

    I’ve heard clips from Religion and Ethics, but the first time I tuned in the piece on Father Rohr was so good. More like this!

  • Christopher Couch

    I appreciate Richard’s claims about religion and spirituality, mostly the claim that one (religion) should lead to the other (spirituality). In my experience, I tend to meet more folk who either embrace religion or embrace spirituality but not embrace them together. Which leads to religion that is not spiritual–which, admittedly, sounds really strange though is sadly manifest–and spirituality that has no root in religion. There are religionists and there are mystics, certainly, though, as Richard says, integration in the life of faith is key. Perhaps the problem is that religion is perceived as discipline–which many like and many don’t–while spirituality is considered to be free-formed and frameless (which many like and many don’t). It’s so helpful, then, that in teaching about spirituality, Richard refers to traditions and mythologies of the past and how they might inform and assist us in the present. Myths, contrary to the way we talk about them in conversation, were a community’s way to explain things larger than itself, using the language and other ways of expression that it had. So rather than being untrue, myths were actually a way to get at the truth. And they were matters of discipline and religion as well as spiritual perception and mystery. Thanks, Richard, for continuing to prod us to pursue what is religious with what is spiritual. What is real, practical, measurable, finite, infinite, larger than us (our true myths), and mystery. A lifestyle of this. All at the same time.

  • Florence Haridan

    Growth vs stagnation, what a wonderful perspective. I know my path as a catholic has been a varied one. I like many others tap into the spiritual practices from many faiths. Meditation, chanting, breathe work, writing, ritual…each brings me closer to the Christ within me.

    I work with individuals coming out of jail and beginning a new life. Helping them see Christ within them in new ways has helped me to see how I have limited my sense of Christ in my own life. BEING Christlike is where we are called. With each action or inaction we are choosing who we are. Today I choose to be one with Christ, in thought and deed!

  • Tabiri Chukunta

    I enjoyed The Rev. Rohr’s interview and would like to order a CD or video of that interview. How may I obtain one?

  • Susan Bremner

    Richard Rohr is a syncretist mixing ancient Catholicism with his own human reason. He preaches a mix of pop psychology and New Age religion. What he promotes is called Contemplative Prayer, but he never used that term. Contemplative prayer is not scriptural. We are not told in scripture to have a spiritual experience or to close down our mind with silence and solitude. This is what monks did in the middle ages because most were illiterate at that time or couldn’t read Latin (Bible was not translated into vernacular until late middle ages) and they had no idea that solitude and silence was no where to be found in the Old or New Testament. Yes, we are commanded to pray, but biblical prayer and solitude/silence (contemplative prayer) are radically different.

    Rohr has a following today because people will not take the time to actually read God’s word, to study scripture themselves. They allow a priest or pastor to tell them what is in the Bible. This is foolish and dangerous. If people would take the time to read a bible, preferably translated from the Hebrew and Greek language and not a paraphrase bible, you can then know if your pastor or priest is preaching truth. Otherwise you will not know if what your pastor or priest preaches is actually scriptural.

    There is a movement today to unite all faiths and disregard doctrine, called ecumenicalism. This is inherently dangerous and here is why. Truth by definition is exclusive. Can there be multiple truths? There is either one truth or not. Not all faith beliefs can be true. Rohr said he did believe in absolute truth, however, he doesn’t preach absolute truth. People must search for themselves, either by reading a Bible, the Gita or any other faith holy book. The Bible makes truth claims.

    When searching for truth in any religion the seeker must ask themselves these basic questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Is there a God? If there is a God, then what does He want? What happens after death? Is morality absolute or subjective?

  • Mark

    Much of what Fr. Rohr advocates, is what many of us in Alcoholics Anonymous seek to practice on a daily basis.

  • Thomas and Elizabeth Langlois

    Thank you for the interview with Richard Rohr!!. We were pleasantly surprised to hear his familiar voice when we turned on our TV to Religion and Ethics this morning. He has been our spititual mentor (mostly from afar) ever since we listened to his first audio tapes on scripture in the early 1970′s.Thank you,Richard,for your faithfulness in sharing so much of the wisdom God has given to you.Our world is so much in need of true wisdom from true prophetic elders.Our weekly Centering Prayer Group is being blessed by reading a small section of your book ” Falling Upwards” as a part of our reflection.You are in our prayers and our hearts.

  • Mark Gregory

    Much of what Fr. Rohr believes, is what many of us in Alcoholics Anonymous try to practice on a daily basis.

  • rewinn

    Doesn’t this remind you of Matthew 7:21 –
    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” ?

    It’s certainly clear that religious practices alone can be more a part of the problem than the solution, but too many church leaders emphasize the forms, e.g. literal translations of Latin texts.

  • Herbert W. Piekow

    How very true. I have lived in the Middle East and now in Mexico, as well as many years in Portland. I have always been Catholic, but feel my relationship with God is more personal than orthodox. I enjoy being Catholic, but also have worshiped at other churches, God is everywhere. For some it may be difficult to extract Jesus from the God, but he isthe human manifestation.

  • Amie Hendani

    I have been a long time admirer of Richard Rohr, and I can never be more agree with his contemplative attitude approach in spiritual life, for it frees us from our tendency of being too much focus on doctrinal level of our faith as Christian. I think most of the comments so far recognize the heart of his message.

    I feel that the suspicious and concern of Susan Bremner regarding syncretism is not necessary. I learn that understanding other religious traditions help me become more rooted in my own tradition as Catholic while at the same time respecting the truth that other traditions have. Thomas Berry, CP a Passionist priest and cultural historian put it in a beautiful way in his book “The Christian Future and Fate of the Earth”, Chp 3 The Catholic Church and the Religions of the World.

  • Lisa

    To Susan Bremner:

    There are accounts in the bible where Jesus went off to be alone. I believe he went off alone to pray. Do you think the only acceptable prayer is one that is taught and repetitive? Do you believe that people need to be able to speak to God from their heart and not just through a church mandated prayer?

    I know when I read the bible (yes, I do read it) I need to be alone and I need it to be quiet, it is called meditating on scripture. There is a lot to be learned about yourself, about God, about your relationship with God, etc. when you are alone and silent. Father Richard is not preaching to ditch your church/religion.

    Everyone feels their religion is the “true” religion. Does that make it true? One of the things that Father Richard preaches about is some of the conflict in the world is because everyone thinks only their religion is right and there is no tolerance for other peoples beliefs. I think he does a great job showing just how similar all religions are.

    I used to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are not allowed to learn about any other religion, other than how to refute them, nor are they allowed to question any belief handed down by their governing body. They are afraid-afraid of the truth about themselves and their beliefs. You words reminded me of this very strongly. I think anytime you are afraid not only to be alone and silent, but to hear other religious and spiritual points of view, then you are not secure in your own relationship with God and with your own beliefs.

  • Kelly Bradley

    Amen, Father Rohr. I am not a Catholic, yet Richard Rohr speaks to my soul. I thank God every day for the blessings and insights I receive from reading his daily devotions that come thru email. In reading his book, Falling Upwards, my life has been enriched and my relationship with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit is closer than ever. In the midst of this time of economic upheaval, I hold tight to his words as the new lessons coming my way every day give a deeper meaning to my life, my spirituality.

  • Mary Adkins

    I have been a student of Richard Rohr since the mid- 1980′s with his first tapes (remember cassette tapes?!) on “Breathing Under Water”. As a Catholic and as a person of recovery I find his work and reflections to be most clearly gospel based and early Christian inspired.

    I believe strongly that his work,along with that of Ron Rolheiser OMI, Eckhart Tolle and others will continue to inspire and bring about greater awareness of the divine within and throughout all of God’s Creation. AA has been practicing this basis of spirituality awareness since the it’s inception,

  • John M.

    As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and a Christian, I have found Richard’s writings connect the wisdom of both the program and the Gospels. In fact, his latest book, Breathing Under Water, explores this beautiful relationship between the 12 Steps, spirituality and Christianity. Thank you Richard.

  • Kathryn

    I love Richard Rohr. I would like to respond briefly to Susan Bremner. Jesus himself participated in “contemplative” prayer and went to a “lonely” or “silent” place to pray on many occasions. Please take the time to read Fr. Rohr’s book before stating that we shouldn’t rely on a priest to tell us what’s in the bible. I think you’d be pleasantly surprised to learn that Fr. Rohr quotes the bible frequently when making a point. I am grateful for Fr. Rohr and many pastors/priests like him that open our eyes to what the Hebrew / Greek translations state. I am not a theologian, and many of us are not. Thank God for our priests and pastors who have studied the “Word” and it’s translations – not just into words, but into thoughts.

  • Ray Lambert

    In my seventy plus years of earthly life I have been a roaming Catholic, faults and all, who loves the Church, warts and all. I continue to seek out the the true Vine with living branches nourished by the Spirit. Richard Rohr has been a breath of fresh air and a shining light in that search. He has shown me that the seeking can continue with a realization that human words and words in the scriptures of the world are mere glimpses while contemplation can show What is behind them.

  • Amanda Moss

    Thank you Richard so much for your consistent teaching and your Loving nurture. I was lead by you out of the old religious way of blind following to discover my own experience….at last some one from the inside showing the way.
    I needed the authority of a Priest to help me out of the herd mentality to find the freedom I live today. The gift of seeing via the practice of prayer is not new,we can look to the Desert Fathers and we will see the Wisdom that also arises in Father Richards teaching.

  • Roseann Farnstrom

    Susan…When Jesus went off to pray, and he did it may times scripture states, he wasn’t reading scripture.
    He went off alone in solitude and silence (contemplative prayer)….It’s being with the Love of your life without words, it’s called Presence. I understand this form of prayer, and yes it is transforming. The ego is put on the back burner.

  • Cynthia Shiroky

    I have been listening to Fr. Rohr since the 1970′s. My problem is what to say to someone who is suffering from betrayal, abandonment, rejection, and disappointment. To share with them what I’ve learned over the decades, I wouldn’t know where to start!! So, I just listen and let them know they are heard! It just doesn’t seem like doing enough to help. Fr. Richard Rohr is a breath of fresh air and has been for decades!!

  • Bishop Mike Zulinke

    There seems to be an awakening of true faith in many Christian denominations. We are beginning to see the things that we agree on rather than the things we disagree on. As a Celtic Catholic bishop I recognize many of Fr. Rohr’s ideas as they are reminiscent of the early Celtic expression of the Catholic faith.
    I pray that we move forward in the faith and learn to truly love one another.

  • martha knight

    I have been reflecting with Richard Rohr for years reading “Breathing Under Water.” We need to return to the monastic disciplines in deep contemplation and discernment emptying ourselves not fearful to enter the shadowbox only found in the desert of our souls. The church definitely needs a re-transformation.

  • s shave

    Richard Rohr has spent 30 years studying the Gospels and written several books about them. As an Evangelical refugee who spent many years taking didactic Bible classes and being taught to attack anything different than how we had been brainwashed , I have found nothing unscriptural in Richard’s teaching no matter how hard I tried. Quite the opposite . We are spiritual beings learning to be human. God is Spirit ( know that verse?). How else can we communicate with Him other than as spirit? You might want to spend a few years studying his writings, as well as the other great teachers he has introduced us to ( James Finley, Thomas Merton,Thomas Keating, Joan Chissister, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis -where to stop?) I am now a member of a Mennonite church by the way. Is that New Age?

  • Carolyn Heil

    Scripture is full of times where Jesus went off to pray. He began his ministry after 40 days in the desert. I doubt if he took the Torah! This was contemplation!!!!

  • Mike Walters

    What I find most exciting is Richards pointing in the direction of ‘Both – And” vs. Either – Or … WOW … what a wonderful insight and awareness!

    Just to think … all are welcome regardless of what we think we have done or will do … what others have done or not done … we are all hopefully headed in the same direction … connection with Someone beyond our ability to understand … that is of Life!


  • Anita Sibley

    When I was first introduced to Richard Rohr’s tapes back in the 80s, I had no idea of how his words would change my life. I have more than 100 of his tapes now, many of his books, & read a daily meditation from him daily on my computer. I keep his endeavors in my prayers, & ask God to bless him always in his efforts to spread God’s Word. I personally consider him to be a grace-filled prophet, & wish everyone would have the opportunity to experience his wisdom. He has been blessed to offer the means to enlarge our spiritual experiences, & bring us closer to God, for which I am so very grateful.

  • Jose

    father Richard is making a positive difference in my life; he has freed me for God, and freed God for me. Amen.

  • MaryJo

    All I can say is Bless you, Bless You, Richard.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful Soul and your amazing Wisdom.
    My soul feels the true GRACE of God through your words and thoughts.
    Be Well.
    Blessings in Abundance!

  • DeAna DiGioia

    I have never found Fr. Rohr controversial. I have found him to clarify and purify much for me. It all seems like common sense and not controversy. When I have a challenging moment or day, I go back to my Fr. Richard Rohr shelf of books, and sometimes just the meditation of the day, and once again find myself where I belong.

  • Peggy

    Richard Rohr speaks for so ma ny of us that understand the timeless message of religion. I am a scientist. When Christianity was presented to me as a little girl it was presented as a set of wild beliefs that you had to adhere to (doctrine). Being a thinking person, I rejected it completely because it was illogical. I learned what was logical from Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, Carolyn Myss and then I found the mystics – Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingem, Meister Eckhart and oh! Thomas Merton. They spoke my language and helped me realize the intuitive truth of Christianity. I have always felt spiritual but not doctrinal. I now understand what the early church fathers and theologians knew – the wonder and sacredness of nature can be approached from the scientific, from the psychological, from the philosophical, from the theological – all are fingers pointing to the same moon -and the moon is man’s perception of reality. Our ideas today grew out of a day when all those disciplines I listed were studied and practiced as one and the same. Wisdom and Intelligence are 2 different things. Any theologian, mathematician, biochemist, mystic will tell you – intelligence deals with the objective facts. Wisdom includes subjective insights…like value and meaning. At 55 yrs of age, I am so delighted to see some common sense theology getting attention! I cannot thank you enough Fr Rohr!

  • Garry

    Fr. Richard Rohr’s reflections resonate with my own experience that the only faith worth nurturing is alive and life giving and life transforming: challenging me to become my truest self in Christ’s love. Yes, authentic religion connects me with a human community larger than just me; and also connects me with a God who became human like us and yet raises me far beyond myself. I had to reject a god of fear, wrath and hell fire and damnation Today, the only God I know is an eternal Loving Personable Being who is fully alive and fully free. That Loving God is also Life, Love, Joy, Peace, Truth, and Beauty ITSELF! The best is always yet to come!

  • Pat Watts

    Fr. Rohr’s teachings are controversial, but so were those of Jesus. I had been corresponding with Fr. Rohr for several years before I actually got to meet him. I was a theology major at a Catholic university. A fellow theology major accused me of heresy if I were to attend Fr. Rohr’s speaking engagement. I also had a franciscan nun express her dislike for Sr. Joan Chittister for the damage Joan has, in her opinion, done to the Catholic Church.
    I am old enough to remember when priests called Fr. Thomas Merton “the communist monk.” We all struggle with our faith, but how can you find God in everyone if you busy yourself with name calling and questioning the faith of others?
    Contemplative prayer has been extremely helpful to me in centering myself and my relationship with God. If this is too controversial for you, don’t do it! I am not responsible for your relationship with God. God calls you to him. You don’t call Him to you. This is why we all have different spiritual gifts. It is all about faith…pure faith! Sorry St. Thomas Aquinas, but I don’t need to prove God to anyone. I just believe and ask for mercy!

  • vivian longoni

    Amen! Amen! A word that means so be it. What else could I add to all the wonderful things said about Richard Rohr’s Work as prophet and apostle. Thank you again and God bless you always.

  • carlos slim

    nothing but gobbledegook

  • Orthodox Catholic

    Points of Concern:
    1) Right off the bat, he doesn’t wear clerics, which shows a serious lack of understanding of the role of the priest in the Church
    2) Has anyone looked up this man? He supports MANY groups which are anti-catholic. He has also been talked to by his bishop about staying in line with Catholic teaching….

  • Mary S.

    This is the first time I’ve had a chance to read the words of Fr. Richard Rohr (since he is a priest, and has received a special indelible mark from God, I feel he should be known by his title.) He’s an interesting person. A great deal of what he says is true, a great deal of what he says isn’t true, and the rest can be taken either way, since the wording is ambiguous. “It’s not correct to say Jesus is God.” “Jesus is both Human and Divine”, “Most of the Catholic Christians I’ve met would, for all practical purposes believe that Jesus is God only and we are human only.” “The point is the integration of the human and the divine both in Jesus and in ourselves.” Wow, where to begin. 1) Jesus IS God. It is incorrect to say that he is not, EVER. Jesus is not an integration of the human and the divine in the same sense that we are an integration of our father and our mother. Jesus is fully human yes, and FULLY divine. To imply that Christ is an integration of the human and the divine just like we are, is deceptive at best and deliberately misleading at worse. 2) Most of the Catholic Christians that he’s met would fail to realize that Jesus was also human? Really? Does he only know Gnostics? Yes, I have trouble believing that statement, because Jesus’ humanity was fairly easy to realize. I’d be more inclined to believe that Fr. Rohr has a problem realizing that Jesus was FULLY God also.
    I am a cradle Catholic raised by Catholics that were not just huge followers of the Franciscans, but very involved in the Liberal’s version of Catholicism. I’ve been educated at a liberal Catholic University, and the one thing that I started to notice once I took the time, on my own, to explore just WHAT the Catholic Church TRULY believes, WHERE those beliefs came from, and WHY the Catholic church follows those beliefs is that my “New Catholicism” teachers were extremely wrapped up in themselves, full of pride in their own knowledge. This teaching of how we need to understand ourselves, go further into ourselves, explore ourselves,etc., continually focuses all the attention on US, not God! I wonder if the good Father Rohr has actually dared to study the very earliest Church Fathers, and read their own words? Does he even know WHAT the true teachings of the faith are, or only what some other biased person taught him?
    He is correct in that we need to contemplate God, but we need to contemplate God through, not only proper prayer (not all prayer is equal, as some chants can actually be demonic), but also by reading Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. God is His infinite wisdom put in place a Church so that man, doesn’t rely on his own pride to teach him, but can trust in the teachings of the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit through that same church. Or does the good priest believe that all men are as wise as the Holy Spirit of God? Stop searching for guidance within yourselves. It was the original lie of the Devil that man doesn’t need God, but can know all things and be his own God. The biggest lie I heard from one of these worldly priests was that the Bible no longer needs to be believed as it is written. He told me since times have changed and people have become more accepting of women, homosexuals, etc., that we can change in our doctrines as well. Truly? Do people actually believe that God wasn’t smart enough to realize how man would change? Submit yourselves to God, and “do not lean on your own understanding.”

  • Ron Mitchell

    Richard Rohr speaks to those who have no knowledge or understanding of scripture, and so, he can let his spiritual fancies roam as they will and no one will ever know that the jumble of psycho-faux spiritual babble that he pronounces with such certainty and conviction is just that — pure man-made nonsense. How often do you hear him quote scripture as reference for his pronouncements? He makes up his own religion and ignores the words of the bible, which Christians unashamedly consider to be the Word of God. Here’s an example:

    “As many of you know, I am a strong proponent of the Franciscan understanding of the redemption, based on the teaching of Blessed John Duns Scotus in the 13th century. He did not believe in any ‘substitutionary atonement theory’ of the cross: Jesus did not have to die to make God love us, he was paying no debt.”

    Here in a sentence is Rohr’s total refutation of the absolute foundation belief of the Christian faith. To deny and refute that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sin (failure to live up to God’s expectation) is to deny Christianity. And of course you’re allowed to do that. Just, please, don’t call it anything but what it is — pure heretical apostasy.


  • Bruce D Giermann

    Ron, you are taking Richard Rohr out of context. God indeed loved us before Jesus dies on the cross: See John 3:16: God so loved the world that he sent His only Son…
    Note that you quoted what Dun Scotus did not believe, but nothing about what he did believe.
    The views of Dun Scotus were never refuted by the Church, so there was never a heretical apostacy.
    Jesus suffered and died to to unite His suffering with ours so that we may be be united with the Father. Jesus prayed before His arrest, “Father, may they be one and You and I are one.” This is about restoring relationship, not paying off a debt.
    Sin is separation from God. Jesus’ whole life and death and resurrection was concerned about reconciling man to God. Of course Jesus dying on the cross was a necessary part of Salvation. But not to make God love us; Jesus died because He loved us already…so much so that He decided to become one of us and to reveal God to us and how to have relationship with God. The Incarnation is so much more than a step toward the payment of a debt. The “substitutionary atonement theory” as we understand it today was not there in the beginning. It developed over time as one of several explanations of how Jesus’ death was related to Salvation.

  • Rene

    Until and unless you have lived and learned, will you understand Father Rohr or the Gospel, for Father Rohr teaches nothing but the Gospel. For those who “get it,” (by the grace of God) “deep calls unto deep.” “The mind cannot understand what the heart knows to be true (James Finely)”

  • Fr Karm Debattista mssp

    This has always been my way of thinking since my novitiate. For years I was afraid to talk as it had always brought me to trouble. Now that I am 50 years old I speak and found that people have been waiting for this kind of insight. I’m lucky as I work on tv and radio. Richard, you inspire me… and you articulate better what I always want to say. Thanks.

  • Pete K.

    As a religious educator for 35 years, Fr. Richard’s wisdom to speak to issues men have in the second half of life made so much sense to both my head and my heart. The training received in contemplation and understanding some of the shadow work necessary for growth on my faith joourney – all received from Fr. Richard were so clear and resonating, i feel I am who I say I am. I find worship and service to be essential to being who I am as a person, essentially because I understand a little more about God and his will for us…thanks to Fr. Richard.



  • brian free

    mary and sue,
    there’s a program that can help you both. It’s called Alanon. Jesus Christ, quit with the mental masturbation! And, quit thinking your doing it in God’s name. Love and laughter is what Master J wants for us and between us, not analism.

  • Bob Cullen

    Thank you, Richard, for the encouragement and challenge you have provided over many years and to many of us all over the world, on all continents (including Australia). First your tapes and then your CDs and now your books and podcasts have helped me, especially at the times at the bottom when all I could do was hang on. May God continue to bless your work. Thank you, to the people at CAC who support what you do. Thank you,Bruce (D Giermann ) for your comment.above.
    Thanks to those who have made this presentation available.

  • BK

    Mike Walters, as one who studied theology at a major Catholic university and the holder of a degree from a well–respected Catholic seminary I can assure you that the “both-and” vs. “either-or” approach you have discovered is solidly in line with Catholic Tradition (within certain conditions.) It is this aspect of theology in line with the Incarnation that, with God’s ever merciful grace, has brought me through over half a century as a Catholic.

    He ain’t perfect but I love his stuff!!

  • Michael Kimmel

    Richard Rohr is a true inspiration to me. His books are so packed with powerful thoughts that I read them over-and-over again. I went on the Men’s Rites of Passage and it changed my life. Now I feel God is with me and I am currently singing love songs to God, not other people. Richard is up there with Rumi and Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama and Thich nat Hahn…a wonderful, humble man who dares to question everyone and everything. Carry on Richard, and may God continue to bless you and keep you.

  • Ashby

    Christianity is not us moving towards Christ—it is Christ moving towards us. It is Christ changing our hearts…not us moving ourselves towards a greater truth…we have no capacity to do so. I am concerned because a relationship with with Christ was not mentioned in this whole video. He is missing that the -love relationship with Christ breaks us and changes us….my mother is reading his books—and while there are some nuggets of truth in what he speaks of—-his ideas are general, could be applied to any new agey religion….they are not the gospel. Read the gospels as opposed to digging in this book—Spirituallity is not the answer—Christ is.

  • James

    Mary S.,

    You are hitting the nail right on the head, as they say! Pray for this priest, and all who are mislead by him. There is so much of this type of wrong-thinking and misrepresenting now, among both clergy and laity, and it is doing much harm to souls who fall victim to it. Pray for them who adhere to this self-glorifying dissent, and this pseudo-intellectual/spiritual navel-gazing. And keep living and speaking the Truth, Who is Christ Jesus, truly human and truly divine. Which is found in the true teachings of His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We’re really being bombed from the outside now, as well as the inside! Pray and speak the Truth and defend Holy Mother Church from these who appear to be blinded by their own sense of knowledge! What a troubled time it is for Holy Church, but He has made us a promise, the promise He made to St. Peter. Thanks Mary S. God continue to bless you and Mother Mary keep you.

  • Ishmael Montoya

    I admire your train of thought. I would like to talk to you in person to exchange our spiritual experiences with thought itself. It’s such an intense subject to discuss with another person who is so close to Jesus Christ and God himself. I’ve been looking for someone of such a standing. It’s funny because I never even know your name and you came out of the blue and I started reading a little about your spiritual perspectives and I realize that persons like you are the ones that attract me! It’s like God put you guys in my path. I am Catholic myself but in all reality no matter what religion one is it really doen’t matter as long as you practice it right and without separating from one another. Afterall we are part of the Wholeness or you might call it Oneness!
    I hope someday I meet you on one on one basis to talk about JesusChrist and God himself. Untl then…

  • John K

    Susan Bremner argues that Contemplative Prayer is not scriptural. Fr. Thomas Keating, former abbott at St Joseph’s Trappist monastery in Massachussetts and currently at the Trappist community in Snowmass has written numerous books on this and is a leading practitioner and teacher of Contemplative Prayer. He states that Jesus, in answer to the question “how should we pray” advises “go to your inner room, shut the door, and commune with the Father.” It doesn’t get much more biblical than that. Come to think of it, why was Jesus always going off on his own – to recharge his batteries? Or to be alone with his Father? Was he talking all the time? Doubtful. Listening, in silence. That’s contemplative prayer, and it’s totally biblical.

    Fr. Rohr has been a mentor for me for 20 years. He is 100% authentic as a teacher.

  • Karm Debattista mssp

    This guy articulates what I have been thinking and trying to say for years but never had the real courage to say them as I always found great opposition to what is said. I’ve followed Fr Richard for the last year and he has really been a mentor to me. Things have changed so much since then. It’s so great to be able to see what was always there but somehow not visible. Then, you’re not the same any more.

  • Terree Newberry

    To know that there are folks out there who read and love Richard Rohr and who are led to deeper conviction and renewed life through his writings is a gift for me, a life-long Southern Baptist who has had her eyes and heart opened. I only wish that I had been awakened to the realization of the power of great love and suffering earlier in my life. I am so grateful for the desire planted in my heart and mind to go deeper into my spiritual journey. I thank God for insights from Richard and for his pointing the way toward contemplation and spiritual growth. Facing each day with its joys and difficulties is easier because of this gift.

  • Carroll Petersen

    God bless you Richard for having the guts to share your wisdom and truth with ALL of us. I too am a recovering Catholic who discovered your writings and tapes in the 70s along with Thomas Merton, etc. Thank you for contributing to my growth in experiencing life, love, God.

  • Cynthia Shiroky

    It all started after teaching a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine class one Saturday morning at a local Catholic Church in the early 1970′s. A shy, quiet, young priest came up to me and handed me a cassette tape and said, “I think you would get alot out of listening to this tape”. The voice on the tape was Richard Rohr’s. It was the beginning of my adult religious education. WOW!! It’s been 40 years of going to hear him speak in person, reading almost everything he’s written, listening to his CD’s and watching his DVD’s. What a breath of fresh air his message is. How does one say “thank you” for making God approachable? Fr. Richard Rohr’s message is a loving gift to all of us.

  • Mario Briceno

    Wonderful the way you say the things taht come out from your heart.Though I am not a very religous man I share your point of view on how Jesus must be seen and thought. As I always say: Jesus making miracles been God: What is the grace of God healing a paralyzed or a blind one? I found that if I as a man am able to understand and live as a manifestetion of our Creator and behave as having our being manifested we can get closer to What Jesus wanted us to learn. I am not on the track of thinking that Jesus was a god and I his adore slave: no whatsoever.

  • Becky

    Hellooo……..I will grant you Richard has a way with words. And he likes to pour forth untold numbers of them. Most sounding so pious, thoughtful and erudite from such a cosmic depth.
    But please, he makes it such hard work! Jesus said we should come to him as children. With honest love and urning to know and love Him more and fulfill His purpose for each of us. His Holy Spirit guides us as we listen for that still small voice in our everyday lives.
    It’s really not as complicated. Fr. Rhor requires it, so that you in turn must purchase his or buy into his method.
    I find him an Activist in Monks (most times, Street) clothing.

  • JDE

    Those here who are critical of Father Rohr would be better off staying with EWTN and CBN. PBS is not the place for people who get a headache from trying to think independently.

  • Carrie in Raleigh

    Thank you Ron Mitchell and Mary S: I also invite everyone to read this article on the heresy called Emergent Church Christian Pantheism:

  • Richard Walker

    Jesus not God? I do not get that from Bible text. Indeed Jesus claims to be God in front of the Pharasees for which they charged him with blasphemy. To underline the point he indicates from scripture that we are all Gods I think it is Psalm 83 v 6 . I may be wrong… I love Catholics but I am not Catholic. I love their contemplative heart because that was my start on my spiritual path with a deep meditation experience in my early twenties. I like to think I use the Holy Spirit as guide in all matters of doctrine interpretation where aparantly conflicting text in the Gospel message does not worry me as the Spirit or consellor directs the context. So perhaps humility is the best approach to these difficult questions . My main concern is the elevating of Mary ever Virgin to Deity or near Deity again I dont get that from Bible text. Joseph did not know Mary until after Jesus was born. The brothers and sister and mother of Jesus are waiting to speak to him outside. Elevating Mary may well have served the faith well in past times in raising the profile of women though it does represent a stumbling block for me .

  • Betty

    Having re-discovered Fr Richard after some years I have to say that he is the most inspiring teacher I have heard in a long long time. He is exactly what the Church needs. He is able to cut through a lot of “stuff” with his wise words. A big Thank you and congratulations for sticking to your words and sharing them with us.

  • Ed Brown

    I first encountered Fr. Rohr this past summer listening to his taped lectures on the Great Themes of Paul, which strike me as a synthesis of much of Fr. Rohr’s spiritualility. The taped lectures are vey much scripture-based, and are powerfully enlightening. I’ve been drawn back to them multiple times already. I don’t completely agree with all of Richard’s statements, and suspect Richard would concede that some of his statements – in the lectures and in his mininistry generally – like Paul’s, are at times inconsistent, subject to misinterpretation (particularly if viewed in isolation or out of context), and, at least occasionally, maybe just plain wrong. But I don’t think being 100 per cent right all the time is the point, or even possible. It’s the “journey,” the experience of the fullness of life and love that is God, and which God shares with with us as a free gift, that matters. Fr. Richard Rohr, I believe, is filled with the Spirit, and is doing great work in helping people experience the fullness of God’s love. It is to the Church’s credit that he continues to do so with the Church’s blessing. Best to all.

  • James McC

    The main thing I notice about Richard Rohr is that he makes a lot of pronouncements. When I read ancient saints like St. Teresa of Avila, she appealed to the Holy Spirit and she gave deference to the Catholic Churcn. Rohr does not cite any authority. Rather, he is the authority. When I listened to “Breathing Under Water” on CD, I started to detect an undertone of self-righteousness. And I say that because the voice of the speaker was itself trying to be the persuader and I did not hear the Holy Spirit in the words. At that point, I became suspicious of the whole CD even though I believed he had made many excellent points. I do not believe a word even a wise man says if not in humility.

  • Fr. Juan Romero

    Fine report by Judy on an important topic (spirituality, wisdom, wholeness), by a competent contemporary Catholic guru. Well done, and I highly reccomend viewing and CONTEMPLATING!

  • Stephen John

    After seeing a video of him saying that Jesus’s Plan of Salvation failed, my jaw dropped. I had to go back and watch it three times to make sure I was not taking it out of context, but there was no doubt that is what he was saying. I have enjoyed reading his material though, and I can say that much of what he says is consistent with Experience (Experiential Faith), although his new-founded doctrine and talk of self-knowledge which sounds like Gnosis New Age is suspect. I’m surprised he does not stress that ‘these are things I am discovering to be true for myself but quite possibly might not be true for other seekers’. On the other hand, if what he says is not consistent with Sacred Text while reading through the Holy Spirit. Beware. In his “Things Hidden” book he twice says the alcoholic wine Jesus drank, yet there is no validity in that statement whatsoever. It cannot be proven it was alcoholic, or at least he abetted it getting people more drunk at His First Miracle. I agree with what he says about religion and head knowledge rote repetition which becomes meaningless, but lets not introduce concepts and ideas. I also am aware that the Catholic Church long ago embraced A Course IN Miracles..BIG MISTAKE. That Course does into believe that Jesus was crucified. How can such nonsense penetrate to such high eschatology is beyond me. Regardless, we as humans are all flawed in some way, and eventually in his time as well as mine and others, that which is unfruitful will be loped off and burned. He’s not even saying Jesus is a Part of the Godhead and was present in the Creation of Existence…so if he is going to say Jesus is not God, he should at least provide a better clarification of the Maryah, and exactly what In The BEGINNING was the Word (Milta/Miltha) means.

  • cerenatee

    What does quoting scripture have to do with God? NOTHING! What’s sad is that you don’t understand Jesus didn’t die for God to love us. God already loved us, that’s why he sent Jesus. Jesus died for people to understand that God loved us, for them to stop thinking that their sins separated them from God’s love. For them to stop running out and buying pigeons when they messed up and instead for them to run to God. That’s why Jesus died. People like you will always claim Jesus yet preach the law of the Pharisees. Trying to keep people enslaved, dishonoring and negating the very reason Jesus died. Thank God for Richard Rohr and the freedom he has been called to bring the enslaved and confused. Get behind me Pharisee, it’s Jesus the Messiah I follow!

    “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

  • Angelus

    I love Rohr! he is saying these things in a way which is controversial but he is SO RIGHT! how many ‘comfort zone’ catholics do we know who say “I have a great spiritual life, I say the Rosary every day, go to mass, and say the angelus” so what? that is not the same as haveing a relationship with Jesu Christi!! Praise God!!

  • Samuel Maynes

    If you are interested in some new ideas on religious pluralism, the
    Trinity, and panentheism, please check out my website at It previews my book, which has not been published yet and is still a “work-in-progress.” Your constructive criticism would be very much appreciated.

    My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

    In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a
    threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew
    intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception
    of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist,
    Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned
    Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their
    variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas
    reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept
    of the Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

    1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the
    Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or
    Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented
    by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger
    prophets), and others.

    2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person
    through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or “Universal”
    Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or
    Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and
    savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human
    consciousness, which we expect will be the “body of Christ” (Mahdi,
    Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by
    Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

    3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis
    of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the
    Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness –
    associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit
    “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be
    Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being –
    represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas,
    Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

    Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third
    person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity
    – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken
    together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the
    first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second
    person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

    * The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely
    infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither
    existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully
    ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the
    superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

    ** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a
    synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so
    it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a
    synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe
    Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned
    Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis
    – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

    After the Hindu and Buddhist conceptions, perhaps the most subtle expression
    and comprehensive symbol of the 3rd person of the Trinity is the Tao;
    involving the harmonization of “yin and yang” (great opposing ideas identified
    in positive and negative, or otherwise contrasting terms). In the Taoist icon
    of yin and yang, the s-shaped line separating the black and white spaces may be
    interpreted as the Unconditioned “Middle Path” between condition and
    conditioned opposites, while the circle that encompasses them both suggests
    their synthesis in the Spirit of the “Great Way” or Tao of All That Is.

    If the small black and white circles or “eyes” are taken to represent a nucleus
    of truth in both yin and yang, then the metaphysics of this symbolism fits
    nicely with the paradoxical mystery of the Christian Holy Ghost; who is neither
    the spirit of the one nor the spirit of the other, but the Glorified Spirit
    proceeding from both, taken altogether – as one entity – personally distinct
    from his co-equal, co-eternal and fully coordinate co-sponsors, who
    differentiate from him, as well as mingle and meld in him.

    For more details, please see:

    Samuel Stuart Maynes

  • dllr

    It’s too bad that he has not studied Buddhism deeply. If Buddhism was what was needed just as the LAW, then the Son should not have bothered. Who came back from the grave? Note: when the Satan/ the Devil approached Jesus in the wilderness, one of the temptations was to offer ‘scripture’. Take his quote and then go back to the source. All it took was a word here or there to change the message. Jesus the Son of Man knew the difference and totally rejected it. So where is all this coming from? Note what happened to Merton shortly before he left for a gathering of Buddhists. As Peter said, “There is no other place to go, You have the words of Life”. So is Rohr 1. stupid 2. ignorant 3. both 4. doing the same work as the temptation offered to Jesus in the wilderness. Seems to be cross breeding of two different but similar plants of corn. the goal here is to get a hybrid which is has more than the sum of the two parts…it is called “hybrid vigor”. however those hybrid seeds can never reproduce and get the “hybrid vigor” again. The only ones who will choose to totally surrender everything they have, as Jesus calls himself bridegroom and the ‘Church’ the bride, then as all marriages, “the two shall become one”. it is completely, that is totally, excludes all who do not enter the sheep fold by the gate. too bad that the ‘cross’ we are to pick up every day is so offensive that we humans try to do everything possible to avoid it. too bad that Jesus’ messages are so offensive to our flesh and our soul and our spirit that we must run and hide under any rock that is available. everything in Christianity is harsh, but good. Bonheoffer: “When God calls a man [wo-man], He [YHWH] calls him come and die”. Buddhism is a mind trip and we can work and achieve, but it knows nothing of God’s free mercy and grace abounding. to sum up, Jesus’ answer to those who finally call on him, “Lord, Lord” on last day, “Away from me you who do evil, I never knew you”….:”Get out” [Matt 7:21-23. Sorry