Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr OFM
Webcast with Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr, O.F.M. (born 1943) is an American Franciscan friar ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He is an internationally known inspirational speaker and has published numerous recorded talks and books, most recently The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (with Mike Morrell), Yes, And...: Daily Meditations, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.

Life and ministry

Rohr was born in Kansas. He entered the Franciscans in 1961 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. He received his master's degree in theology from the University of Dayton in 1970. He became the founder of the New Jerusalem Community[1] in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1971[2] and the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986[3][4] where he currently serves as the Founding Director and Academic Dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation.[5][6] The curriculum of Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation is founded on seven themes developed by Rohr and explored in his book Yes, And....[7]

Scripture as liberation, the integration of action and contemplation, incarnational mysticism, community building, peace and social justice issues, male spirituality, the Enneagram of Personality, and eco-spirituality are among the many subjects addressed in Rohr's writings and teaching. He founded the international movement known as Men As Learners & Elders (M.A.L.E.s), which focuses on ritual and rites of passage to encourage men to greater spiritual consciousness. In 2013, Illuman took on the mission of continuing and expanding the M.A.L.E.s programs.

Rohr is a contributing editor and writer for Sojourners magazine and a contributor to Tikkun magazine and the Huffington Post. He has been a featured essayist on NPR's "This I Believe," a guest of Mehmet Oz on the Oprah and Friends radio show, and a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday. He was one of several spiritual leaders featured in the 2006 documentary film ONE: The Movie and was included in Watkins' Spiritual 100 List for 2013.[8] Rohr has given presentations with such spiritual leaders as Rob Bell, Cynthia Bourgeault, Joan Chittister, Shane Claiborne, James Finley, Laurence Freeman, Thomas Keating, Ronald Rolheiser, Jim Wallis, and the Dalai Lama.

He often refers to his position as being on the "edge of the inside",[9] as a prophetic place from which to challenge and encourage the Church. In a critique of Rohr, Fr. Bryce Sibley writes that Rohr asserts that God is neither male nor female, supports the mission of homosexual advocacy groups, asserts that the Crucifixion of Jesus was not necessary for the redemption of mankind, and criticizes Catholic rituals for a lack of efficacy.[10] Rohr has been notable for his support of homosexual causes, attracting criticism from some Catholics.[11] In 1996, Rohr presided over a ceremony for a lesbian couple, which has been referred to by a commentator as a "wedding", during one of his retreats.[12] In 1997, Rohr spoke at a symposium[13][14] of New Ways Ministry, a ministry to homosexual people which was later condemned by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for not teaching in accord with the Catholic Church's moral teachings regarding homosexuality.[15] In 2000, Rohr publicly endorsed Soulforce, an initiative to use "relentless nonviolent resistance" to encourage Christian groups to accept homosexual people.[16] In a 2003 letter to his diocese, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, Michael Sheehan, wrote that Rohr had agreed in discussions to conform to official Catholic teachings in his presentations.[17]

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."[18] 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."[19] Rohr's most recent 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.[20]

Rohr emphasizes "alternative orthodoxy", a phrase the Franciscan tradition has applied to itself, referring to a focus on "orthopraxy"—a belief that lifestyle and practice are much more important than mere verbal orthodoxy.[21] The Perennial Tradition,[22] 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, titled by the same name (2013).

Rohr's "wisdom lineage", those thinkers and movements that have influenced his own work, include the Bible of Nature and Creation; the Hebrew Scriptures interpreted by the Prophets; the Gospels, the Incarnation and Jesus; Paul as first Christian mystic; the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers; the Patristic Period, particularly in the East; orthopraxy in much of Buddhism and Hinduism; non-dual thinkers of all religions; the early Franciscan theology of Bonaventure and Duns Scotus; the unique witness of mythology, poetry and art; the non-violent recovery of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.; much of Carl Jung's teachings; Spiral Dynamics and Integral Theory; 12-Step spirituality/American pragmatism; and scientific evidence from the universe.[7]

In a review of The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, Fred Sanders remarks that "What you have to notice is that this book that claims to be about the Trinity is relentlessly committed to averting your focus from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... this book doesn’t contain sound Christian doctrine."[23]


This bibliography is ordered by the original publication date:

Own works



  1. Taylor, Leon (January 1978). "Rohr on the cutting edge of the church". Cincinnati Magazine (via Google Books). Retrieved 2015-02-02.
  2. "Fr. Richard Rohr to speak at pro-life pilgrimage". Gainesville Sun (via Google News). 14 March 1982. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  3. Crum, Julie (16 November 1986). "New kinds of church communities". Gainesville Sun (via Google News). Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  4. "Franciscan Priest To Give Newman Center Lecture". Lexington Herald-Leader (via Newsbank - subscription required to read full article). 4 November 1989. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  5. Manson, Jamie (2013). "The Living School". National Catholic Reporter.
  6. Longhurst, Mark (19 September 2014). "Learning Action and Contemplation at Richard Rohr's Living School Living School". Patheos Emerging Voices.
  7. 1 2 "Living School Lineage and Themes". Center for Action and Contemplation.
  8. "Watkins' Spiritual 100 List for 2013". Watkins Magazine. 2013.
  9. "Life On The Edge: Understanding The Prophetic Position". Huffington Post. 2011-03-19.
  10. Sibley, Rev. Bryce (2006). "The Fr. Richard Rohr Phenomenon". New Oxford Review. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  11. Barillas, Martin. "Controversial priest to lecture in New Orleans with blessing of local Catholic bishop". Spero News. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  12. Block, Stephanie. "The Center for Action and Contemplation". Catholic Culture. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  13. Block, Stephanie. "Coloring Outside the Lines". Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  14. The Wanderer. March 20 and March 27, 1997. Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. "Notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Concerning Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  16. Rohr, Richard. "Fr Richard Rohr's Letter of Endorsement". Soulforce. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  17. Sheehan, Michael J (May 2, 2003). "To whom it may concern" (PDF). Letter. Los Pequenos. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  18. Bell, Rob (17 July 2014). "What is the Bible?".
  19. "The Intricate Dance of Our True and False Selves". Englewood Review of Books. 12 April 2013.
  20. Greene, Dana (23 July 2014). "Seize the Franciscan moment, Rohr advises". National Catholic Reporter.
  21. "The Franciscan Alternative Orthodoxy". Center for Action and Contemplation.
  22. "The Perennial Tradition". Center for Action and Contemplation.
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