Richard Rohr

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Richard Rohr

Born1943 (age 77–78)
Kansas, United States
  • Author
  • spiritual writer
  • Franciscan friar
Webcast with Rohr

Richard Rohr, OFM (born 1943), is an American author, spiritual writer,[1] and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[2] He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. PBS has called him "one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world."[3]

Life and ministry[edit]

Rohr was born in Kansas in 1943. He received his master's degree in theology in 1970 from the University of Dayton.[4] He entered the Franciscans in 1961 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. He became founder of the New Jerusalem Community[5] in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1971[6] and the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986[7][8] where he serves as founding director and academic dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation.[9][10] The curriculum of Rohr's school is founded on seven themes developed by Rohr and explored in his book Yes, And....[11]

In his 2016 book The Divine Dance, Rohr suggests that the top-down hierarchy approach of western Christianity since Constantine has held ecumenical traditions back for centuries, and that the future of people of faith will have to be awakening to a bottom-up approach.[12] Rohr maintains what he would call prophetic positions, on the "edge of the inside" of a church that he sees as failing to transform people, and so increasingly irrelevant.[13][14] In a critique of Rohr published in the New Oxford Review, Fr. Bryce Sibley writes that Rohr asserts that God holds both the masculine and the feminine together rather than either or binary dualistic thinking and criticizes ecumenical religious rituals that focus on rules rather than the paramount centrality of relationship with God, and neighbor.[15]

In 2000, Rohr publicly endorsed Soulforce, an organization which challenges religion-based LGBTQ oppression through nonviolent protest.[16] In a 1999 essay, and afterwards, Rohr welcomes and affirms God's love for LGBTQ people, emphasizing that God asks the same of people in homosexual relationships as God asks of heterosexual ones: "truth, faithfulness, and striving to enter into covenants of continuing forgiveness of one another".[17][18]

In his teaching on Scripture, such as in his book Things Hidden, Rohr describes the biblical record as a human account of humanity's evolving experience with God, "the word of God in the words of people".[19] Rohr's book Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self suggests Jesus' death and resurrection is an archetypal pattern for the individual's movement from "false self" to "true self", from "who you think you are" to "who you are in God".[20] Rohr's 2014 book, Eager to Love, explores the key themes of Franciscan spirituality, which he sees as a "third way" between traditional orthodoxy and heresy, a way of focusing on the Gospel, justice, and compassion.[21]

Rohr emphasizes "alternative orthodoxy", a phrase the Franciscan tradition has applied to itself, referring to a focus on "orthopraxis"—a belief that lifestyle and practice are much more important than mere verbal orthodoxy,[22] which in itself is much overlooked in Catholic preaching today.[23][24] The Perennial Tradition,[25] or Perennial Philosophy, forms the basis of much of Rohr's teaching; the essential message of his work focuses on the union of Divine Reality with all things and the human potential and longing for this union. Rohr and other 21st century spiritual leaders explore the Perennial Tradition in the Center for Action and Contemplation's issue of the publication Oneing.[26]

Influences on Rohr outside of Christian sources include Buddhism and Hinduism, Gandhi, Carl Jung, Spiral Dynamics, and Integral Theory.[11]


Some of Rohr's views have been criticized as unorthodox. In a review of Rohr's The Universal Christ by Michael McClymond, Professor of Modern Christianity at St. Louis University, McClymond wrote, "Though Rohr wraps himself in the mantle of Catholic and Franciscan spirituality, much of what Rohr presents contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church and historic Christianity."[27]

Ian Paul, an Anglican theologian, in a review of The Universal Christ, wrote that "I did not find a single biblical text which was cited with any plausibility; every single one was either misread, or taken out of context, or even cited with errors", and concludes that "Rohr is leading us down some very odd paths and a long way from orthodox Christian faith at numerous points."[28]

Catholic theologian Douglas Farrow, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, has been sharply critical of Rohr's The Universal Christ. Farrow takes issue with Rohr's interpretation of the doctrine of the incarnation, which he says is "no more than the commonplace that the material and the spiritual somehow coexist. Rohr's Christ, like Teilhard's includes all of creation. Jesus, it follows, may in his way be uniquely the Christ but he is, nevertheless, merely one instantiation or revelation of the Christ. And it is revelation not atonement, that we should look for in Jesus."

"Like the gnosticism of old", writes Farrow, "this syncretistic pseudo-scientific neo-paganism can be dressed up in Christian language, given Catholic sacramental trappings, and successfully marketed to those who want to be religious without genuine conversion to God through Jesus the Christ."[29]

Erwin Lutzer, a prominent evangelical pastor, has criticized Rohr for promoting universalism and a New Age spirituality which eschews specific doctrines and basic biblical teaching. Regarding Rohr's book The Divine Dance, Lutzer says the book "is not about the Trinity, but rather Rohr imaginatively uses Trinitarian language in order to give a backdrop to his own eclectic spiritual teaching."[30]

Published works[edit]


  • Wild Man's Journey: Reflections on Male Spirituality (Saint Anthony Messenger Press, ISBN 0-86716-279-1, 1986; Revised edition 1996)
  • Why Be Catholic?: Understanding Our Experience and Tradition (with Joseph Martos) (Saint Anthony Messenger Press, 1989) ISBN 978-0-86716-101-4
  • Simplicity, Revised & Updated: The Freedom of Letting Go (1991, reissued by Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S.; 2nd New edition of Revised edition, 2004) ISBN 978-0-8245-2115-8
  • Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books (USA), 1993) ISBN 978-0-88344-852-6
  • Quest for the Grail: Soul Work and the Sacred Journey (1994, reissued by Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S.; New edition, 1997) ISBN 978-0-8245-1654-3
  • The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (with Andreas Ebert) (1995, reissued by Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S., 2002) ISBN 978-0-8245-1950-6
  • Jesus' Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (with J. Feister) (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0-86716-203-5
  • Radical Grace: Daily Meditations (with John Bookser Feister, Editor) (1993, reissued by St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0-86716-257-8
  • The Good News According to Luke: Spiritual Reflections (Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S., 1997) ISBN 978-0-8245-1490-7
  • Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in a (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001) ISBN 978-0-86716-440-4
  • Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S.; 2nd Revised edition, 2003) ISBN 978-0-8245-1995-7
  • Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (Crossroad Publishing Co, U.S., 2004) ISBN 978-0-8245-2280-3
  • Soul Brothers: Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today (with art by Louis S. Glanzman) (Orbis Books (USA), 2004) ISBN 978-1-57075-534-7
  • From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality (with Joseph Martos) (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005) ISBN 978-0-86716-740-5
  • Job & the Mystery of Suffering (1996, reissued by Gracewing, 2006) ISBN 978-0-85244-308-8
  • Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Saint Anthony Messenger Press, 2008) ISBN 978-0-86716-659-0
  • Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media, 2008) ISBN 978-1-61636-478-6
  • The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009) ISBN 978-0-8245-2543-9 [31]
  • Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent (Saint Anthony Messenger Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0-86716-987-4
  • A Lever and a Place to Stand: The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer (Paulist Press, 2010) ISBN 978-1-58768-064-9
  • Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Saint Anthony Messenger Press, 2011) ISBN 978-1-61636-157-0
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass, 2011) ISBN 978-0-470-90775-7
  • A Companion Journal to Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass, 2013) ISBN 978-1-118-42856-6
  • Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass, 2013) ISBN 978-1-1183-0359-7 [32]
  • Yes, And...: Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media, 2013) ISBN 978-1-61636-644-5
  • Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation (Franciscan Media, 2014) ISBN 978-1-61636-757-2
  • Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media, 2014) ISBN 978-161636-701-5
  • What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2015) ISBN 978-0824520397
  • A Spring Within Us: Daily Meditations (Center for Action and Contemplation, 2016) ISBN 978-1-62305-037-5
  • The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation with Mike Morrell (Whitaker, 2016) ISBN 978-1629117294 [33]
  • Just This: Prompts and Practices for Contemplation (Center for Action and Contemplation, 2017)
  • The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe (Convergent Books, 2019) ISBN 9780281078622
  • The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Franciscan Media, 2020) ISBN 978-1632533463


  • Foreword in Roots of Violence in the U.S. Culture: A Diagnosis Towards Healing by Richard Alain (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1999) ISBN 978-1-57733-043-1
  • Foreword in Meal Stories: The Gospel of Our Lives by Kathleen Casey (Thomas More Association, 2000) ISBN 978-0-88347-495-2
  • "Sadness" in The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, (October 11, 2004).[34]
  • The Franciscan Opinion in Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ, ed. by Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008) ISBN 978-0-8028-6287-7)
  • 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, Julia L. Roller, ed. (HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2011) ISBN 9780062098665
  • Hungry, and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C, Jim Knipper, ed. (Clear Faith Publishing, 2012)
  • God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, Greg Pennoyer, ed. (Paraclete Press, 2013) ISBN 978-1612613796
  • Naked, and You Clothed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle A, Jim Knipper, ed. (Clear Faith Publishing, 2013)
  • Sick, and You Cared for Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B, Jim Knipper, ed. (Clear Faith Publishing, 2014)
  • Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, ed. (The Golden Sufi Center, 2016) ISBN 978-1941394144
  • Foreword in The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz (Zondervan, 2017) ISBN 9781683666998


  1. ^ Paul Elie (May 21, 2018). "The Spiritual Nearness of Wim Wenders's "Pope Francis: A Man of His Word"". New Yorker.
  2. ^ Tippett, Krista (April 13, 2017). "Richard Rohr — Living in Deep Time". The On Being Project. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  3. ^ "November 11, 2011 ~ Richard Rohr | November 11, 2011 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS". Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  4. ^ "Richard Rohr | Teachers | Spirituality & Practice". Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  5. ^ Taylor, Leon (January 1978). "Rohr on the cutting edge of the church". Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "Fr. Richard Rohr to speak at pro-life pilgrimage". March 14, 1982. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  7. ^ Crum, Julie (November 16, 1986). "New kinds of church communities". Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  8. ^ "Franciscan Priest To Give Newman Center Lecture". Lexington Herald-Leader. November 4, 1989.
  9. ^ Manson, Jamie (2013). "The Living School". National Catholic Reporter.
  10. ^ Longhurst, Mark (September 19, 2014). "Learning Action and Contemplation at Richard Rohr's Living School Living School". Patheos Emerging Voices.
  11. ^ a b "Living School Lineage and Themes". Center for Action and Contemplation.
  12. ^ "Rohr Wants Christians to see the Trinity as a divine dance". Religion News Service.
  13. ^ "Life On The Edge: Understanding The Prophetic Position". Huffington Post. March 19, 2011.
  14. ^ "'Eager to Love': Author Q&A with Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M." America Magazine. 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  15. ^ Sibley, Rev. Bryce (2006). "The Fr. Richard Rohr Phenomenon". New Oxford Review. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  16. ^ Rohr, Richard. "Fr Richard Rohr's Letter of Endorsement". Soulforce. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  17. ^ Huff, Gene (March 7, 2000). "Review: Debating homosexuality". The Christian Century.
  18. ^ Rohr, Richard (1999). "Where the Gospel leads us". In Wink, Walter (ed.). Homosexuality and Christian faith : questions of conscience for the churches. Fortress Press. ISBN 9780800631864.
  19. ^ Bell, Rob (July 17, 2014). "What is the Bible?".
  20. ^ "The Intricate Dance of Our True and False Selves". Englewood Review of Books. April 12, 2013.
  21. ^ Greene, Dana (July 23, 2014). "Seize the Franciscan moment, Rohr advises". National Catholic Reporter.
  22. ^ "The Franciscan Alternative Orthodoxy". Center for Action and Contemplation.
  23. ^ "Reclaiming Jesus event brings its message to the White House". National Catholic Reporter. 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  24. ^ "Christian crowd vows to 'reclaim Jesus' from polarized U.S." Crux. 2018-05-26. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  25. ^ "The Perennial Tradition". Center for Action and Contemplation.
  26. ^ Holcomb, J.S. (2017). Christian Theologies of Salvation: A Comparative Introduction. NYU Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8147-6064-2. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  27. ^ McClymond, Michael (2019-09-16). "'Everything is Christ' and Other Muddled Messages from Richard Rohr". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  28. ^ Paul, Ian (2019-04-10). "Is Richard Rohr's 'Universal Christ' Christian?". Psephizo. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  29. ^ Farrow, Douglas (November 17, 2019). "The Pachamama Rohrs". Catholic World Report. Ignatius Press. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
  30. ^ Lutzer, Erwin W. (2018). The Church in Babylon. Chicago: Moody Publishers. p. 207-208. ISBN 9780802413086.
  31. ^ scienceandnonduality (2017-02-07), Christianity and Unknowing, Richard Rohr, retrieved 2018-08-06
  32. ^ Oprah & Author Richard Rohr: The Search For Our True Self, 2015-02-08, retrieved 2018-08-06
  33. ^ "Richard Rohr wants Christians to see the Trinity as a divine dance - Religion News Service". Religion News Service. 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  34. ^ "YJHM: Fr. Richard Rohr, "Sadness"". Retrieved 2018-08-06.

External links[edit]