Sunday, 8 October 2017



Image result for father richard rohr


Richard Rohr OFM (born 1943) is an American Franciscan friar ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He is a known inspirational speaker and has published numerous recorded talks and books.
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 in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1971 and the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986 where he currently serves as the Founding Director and Academic Dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. The curriculum of Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation is founded on seven themes developed by Rohr:

Scripture as liberation
integration of action and contemplation.
incarnational mysticism.
Community building
Peace and social justice issues
The Enneagram of Personality, and eco-spirituality

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. 
He often refers to his position as being on the "edge of the inside", 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.
Rohr has been notable for his support of homosexual causes, attracting criticism from some Catholics. 
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. In 1997, Rohr spoke at a symposium 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.
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 FeMichael Sheehan, wrote that Rohr had agreed in discussions to conform to official Catholic teachings in his presentations
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.
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 Theory12-Step spirituality/American pragmatism; and scientific evidence from the universe.


"A prophet is one who keeps God free for people and who keeps people free for God. 

Both of these are much needed and vital tasks. 

God has been imprisoned and made inaccessible, and far too many people have been shamed and taught guilt to keep us clergy in business. 

Our job became “sin management.” 

Sadly the laity bought into this negative story line. That is what happens when priests are not informed by prophets.

The priestly class invariably makes God less accessible instead of more so, “neither entering yourselves nor letting others enter in,” as Jesus says (Matthew 23:13).

For the sake of our own job security, the priestly message is often: “You can only come to God through us, by doing the right rituals, obeying the rules, and believing the right doctrines.” 

This is like telling God who God is allowed to love! 

The clergy and religious leaders, unintentionally perhaps, teach their disciples “learned helplessness.” 

The meditation below is from Father Richard Rohr.

Thus the prophets spend much of their time destroying and dismissing these barriers and trying to create “a straight highway to God” (Matthew 3:3). 

Both John the Baptist and Jesus tried to free God for the people, and it got them killed.

The other half of the prophet’s job is to keep people free for God. 

We get trapped in chains of guilt and low self-esteem, focusing on our imperfect church attendance and inability to live up to the law’ s standard. 

As if the goal of religion is “attendance” at an occasional ritual instead of constant participation in an Eternal Mystery! 

Prophets turn our ideas of success and belonging on their head, emphasizing God’s unconditional and unmerited love in response to our shortcomings. 

God is always breaking the approved “rules of God” by forgiving sinners, choosing the outsider or the weak, showing up in secular places.

Our job is to love others the way God has loved us. 

In my life, I’ve experienced God’s unearned love again and again. 

God has persistently broken the rules to love me at the level I needed, could receive, and was able to understand throughout my life. 

The magnanimous nature of divine love keeps liberating me at deeper levels where I’m still entrapped.

Priests construct and prophets deconstruct these constructed illusions. 

Any true ministry then reconstructs on this now solid foundation. 

Only a contemplative or nondual thinker like Jesus can honor both the priestly and prophetic functions. 

Frankly, it is rare"



Much that Richard Rohr says resonates with my own thoughts on spirituality, theology and ministry.

Every Christian is baptised as: PRIEST - PROPHET - KING.

But most lay people forget that they are priests, prophets and kings.

Priest - to offer prayer and worship to God.

Prophet - to challenge the Church and the world to me more God like.

King - as heirs and heriesses to God's kingdom.

Instead, most lay people see themselves as passive - passive listeners and receivers from the professional priesthood.

Our faith is founded on PROPHECY and not on PRIESTHOOD.

The priests are the one who organise everything, take it to themselves as if they own it and distribute it to everyone else in return for obedience to the priest and giving him payment and honour.

Prophecy is the ENEMY of the Priest.

Prophecy calls the Priest to repent and change his ways.

Prophecy is overturning the applecart of priestly dominance and superiority to make way for God's Son riding on a humble donkey.


Priests have always tried and always will try to castrate and destroy the Church.

Prophets come along to castrate the priests and give them free access to God.



(Paul Simon)


(Jean-Paul Sartre)

Image result for people as prophets


  1. I should never greet you, Bishop Pat, on anything other than both knees.

  2. Richard Rohr is very sound. I get his emails and I am reading his book on the Trinity at the moment. The church has been brought down by it's own arrogance.

  3. Walter Brueggemann: ‘The Prophetic Imagination’.

    “The prophet engages in futuring fantasy. The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same royal consciousness that make it possible to implement anything and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.”

    “Hope, on one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.”

    The cross is the assurance that effective prophetic criticism is done not by an outsider but always by one who must embrace the grief, enter into the death, and know the pain of the criticized one.”

    “The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”

    “The church will not have power to act or believe until it recovers its tradition of faith and permits that tradition to be the primal way out of enculturation. This is not a cry for traditionalism but rather a judgment that the church has no business more pressing than the reappropriation of its memory in its full power and authenticity.”

    “When we suffer from amnesia, every form of serious authority for faith is in question, and we live unauthorized lives of faith and practice unauthorized ministries.”

    The priest is anointed and the prophet is not. In fact, the first thing that the apostles probably said to each other is “there will be no priests among us”, referring to their experience of the Aaronic priesthood rather than the priesthood of Christ. The priest lives at the centre of the faith community and the prophet is a liminal person who lives in the margins as a “voice crying in the wilderness.” The laity have their own ‘Triregnum’ or ‘triple crown’, namely the vocation of priest, prophet and king. The prophet needs to be pure of heart. Soren Kierkegaard defined purity of heart as “to will one thing”, which for the prophet involves being a conduit for unravelling the unfathomable mystery of God’s will for the world.

    In faith,
    Brother Jim

  4. As soon as I saw that this Franciscan was born in 1943 and ordained in 1970 I had a strong suspicion that he would be heterodox. Turns out I was right.

  5. Bishop Pat, you included a quote from Jean-Paul Satre about all men being prophets. Was that randy old goat being prophetic when he had his "open relationship"?

    1. Prophets are not perfect. The OT prophets were not perfect. God uses who he wants in spite of their frailities.

  6. All Bishops should strive to be "prophetic". That dream is a long way off as our hierarchy is too tied with Rome. We have individual good bishops who give good leadership. However, in the absence of such each parish community working collaboratively with priests and peooke should make its Parish prophetic where it is a place of welcome, caring and hospitality for all. We need to resurrect the early Christian Community's vision as found in the Acts of the Apostles. All parishes should imitate this vision. That's what I try to do, often with much struggle and challenge. But, my approach is one of simply tending to the praish entrusted to my care. I'm experienced enough to know that I could waste precious energy taking the bigger picture on board. I don't but I keep hoping for a visionary prophet to arise one day! In the meantime, my task is to make the parish community given to me a more Christ-like place. I know we have huge, almost insurmountable difficulties in our Church by way of making it relevant but I just concentrate on the "Church vineyard" given to me. In this way my energy and strengths are reserved for what I have to do in my parish. Too many long hours and days have already been given to anger, sadly. But I keep going because I value what has been given and entrusted to me.

    1. There is a lot to be said for tending that part of the garden that is entrusted to you.

      Of course the territory around your garden is your concern too because no matter how well you keep your bit the birds a d the breezes will carry the seeds of weeds and drop them in your patch.

      You are right to tend your part to the best of your ability but at the same time the general environment must concern you too and that means your voice is needed about that too.

      I am sure that you think that way too?

  7. Is the commentator at 08:11 stereotyping an entire generation of humanity?

    Brother Jim

    1. Yup. But it's probably one of the Maynooth gang just trying to get a rise out of a regular blog reader... such is how they often derail the blog.

  8. Every parish needs a prophet or two. They are easily dismissed and ignored as cranks and eccentrics but it's just possible the Lord is speaking through these outsiders. It could be a homeless man in the church porch or the poor, harmless, simple person in the back pew, a 'nobody' of little consequence. It could be an alienated parishioner who no longer attends church because of a hurt or rejection perpetrated by a church busybody or an uncaring priest, or God forbid by something far more grievous like abuse. It might be the annoying parishioner who corrects people for talking out loud in church after Mass,as is so common. Or the parishioner who has the courage to voice their opinion about the 'secularising' of the liturgy through inappropriate music etc. The reasons are endless but sometimes we need to hear uncomfortable truths. We need prophets, more likely than not from among the laity who have more freedom and less of a vested interest to speak the truth to power.

  9. I think a prophet is one who builds a bridge such that a person can see the possibility of their connection with God. Bishop Pat clearly fits the bill.

  10. I think Bishop Pat is doing a great service for the church. He gives the powerless a voice.

    1. I think we kind of know that already, Jane..

    2. 13:21, she was 'kind of' expressing gratitude for it. Yeah?

  11. I would and am much more attracted to pats vision of mission that what's on offer through the conventional church offering - irrespective of denomination

    1. I think you may need specsavers my good friend.

    2. And I think, 13:00 and 13:21, that you need to grow up.

      Failing this, find somewhere else to troll. (Or try improving your juvenile sense of humour, so that we can laugh with you rather than at you.😆)

  12. What is the story with the Dublin Diocesan Ordinations 2017

  13. There was a seriously heretical statement in the blog at today's beginning..
    It surprised me that so many learned readers failed to pick up on it.. Maybe they thought it was so ludicrous as not worth their energy in denouncing... I can hardly blame them. I feel the same frankly.

    1. I saw that and it made me wince!

      But it would have been dishonest for me to edit it.

      I think he can probably explain was he means though???

    2. Poster 13.2 replied .That's good, Pat.... Thanks for your response..

    3. Arlene's on fire8 October 2017 at 16:39

      You mean the Franciscan's heterodox stance on the Atonement?

      For a Franny, he's a bit on the chunky side. If that's what the vow of poverty looks like, where's the nearest novitiate? I want to join up.

    4. 13:27, what was the 'seriously heretical statement'?

    5. Alternative Orthodoxy

      Incarnation instead of Atonement
      Wednesday, May 31, 2017

      Franciscan alternative orthodoxy emphasizes incarnation instead of redemption. For the Franciscans, Christmas is more significant than Easter. Christmas is already Easter! Since God became a human being, then it’s good to be human, and we’re already “saved.” Franciscans never believed in the sacrificial atonement theory because it wasn’t necessary. Christ was Plan A, not Plan B. Atonement implies that God had a plan, we messed it up, and then God had to come back in to mop-up our mistakes.

      As I mentioned earlier this month, Franciscan John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) said the plan from the beginning was to reveal Godself as Christ. Jesus didn’t come as a remedy for sin—as if God would need blood before God could love what God created. The idea that God, who is love, would demand the sacrifice of his beloved Son in order to be able to love what God created is the conundrum that reveals how unsatisfying that quid pro quo logic really is.

      Franciscans believe that Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It didn’t need changing: God has organically, inherently loved what God created from the moment God created. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. This sets everything on an utterly positive foundation. Rather than being an ogre, God is Love. Rather than being sinners in the hands of an angry God, we are inherently and forever loved by God, no matter what we do or don’t do.

      This is such an essential and foundational element in healthy Christianity that we will spend a whole week of meditations later in the year trying to clarify it. For now, just realize that the Church in the thirteenth century was broad-minded enough to accept this alternative orthodoxy as a minority position.

      Amen Fr. Richard.

      Arlene, Some people just have to look at food and put weight on, others indulge heartily and remain bean poles. By all means critique his theology.

    6. Sorry for singling you out Arlene. I see 17:25 and 19:17 suspect Richard of over indulgence too.

  14. Not sure your understanding of "vow of poverty" is correct. It does not relate to diet on a day to day basis. It relates to a certain other matter..

  15. Lots of money is needed for lots of food, presumably. He does not look like a good example of the asceticism preached by St Francis of Assisi.

  16. You're not "there" yet I'm afraid. Keep trying.

    1. Canon 600 of the Code of Canon law says that the evangelical council should be in reality and in spirit. Having a good diet when so many in the world go hungry is hardly Franciscan.

      On the main blog topic, why do only heterodox Catholics talk about prophetic voices in the church, such voices happening to agree with them. Where there any Catholic prophets before Vatican II? Are there any orthodox prophets?

    2. I don't think I'd be consulting the CIC if I wanted an exposé of the evangelical counsels.

      Before you start labelling and demonising, learn to spell. Then you may be taken seriously.

    3. By definition, a prophet cannot be other than 'orthodox', otherwise he or she could not be a prophet.

      Speaking of 'she', there are no recognised female prophets in either the Old or New Testaments. Mysogyny, or divine design?

    4. 21:29 - it was an autocorrect error. As you refer to the Code of Canon Law as the CIC I take it that you are a priest or religious. Hope this morning's breakfast was up to scratch. Religious poverty is a laugh. Free accommodation, holidays, retreats, all clothing and books provided, a full drinks cabinet, cars, and no bills. All the chubby religious you see about kind of suggests that there's not much austerity for them.

    5. @21:52
      Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:
      “Sing to the Lord,
          for he is highly exalted.
      Both horse and driver
          he has hurled into the sea.”
      (Exodus 15:20-21 NIV)

    6. I don't think we'll see any monks, friars, curates, Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy, PPs or bishops at their nearest foodbank, unlike the actual people who know what it's like to live in poverty.

  17. The suspense is killing me. The vow of poverty concerns neither food nor money? Spill the beans. I'm obviously an unlettered laywoman.

    1. Don't worry, your clericalist mansplainer who patted you on the head and said you were nearly "there" in your understanding will explain everything. Perhaps it was impertinence for lay people to intrude on such matters, according to your interlocutor?

    2. I certainly didn't "pat anyone on the head". The questioner deserves better... and by the way,I am a lay person.
      (My other claim to fame is that, unlike some, I don't jump to conclusions)

  18. It can vary a bit in the fine print from one Order of monks and nuns to the next,but the "answer" I was watching out for is that the "vow of poverty" forbids the individual to own land or property. Important resources like those are owned in common by the religious community in general.

    1. This is so funny. The religious vow of poverty consists of not owning land or property but you can be obese and live cost-free in comfortable surroundings. Outside the cloister there are lay people who lack land or property, living hand to mouth, subject to loan sharks. Who really has taken the vow of poverty?

    2. Since Vatican II no member of a religious order/congregation has experienced poverty or discomfort. Admit it that it's a congenial wee life, easier than many.

  19. Where exactly is the 'heterodox' comment? If you mean the line about God not needing the crucifixion of Jesus to redeem the world (note: not the same as a theology of atonement actually) Rohr is in good company, that of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in fact. Saint Thomas says that a single drop of Jesus' blood would have been sufficient to save the whole world (not just 'many'):
    Pie pelicane, Jesu Domine,
    Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
    Cujus una stilla salvum facere
    Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

    1. No, God did not need the crucifixion; what was needed was his son's loving fidelity, despite the crucifixion.

      We are liberated, through love and not through suffering, to become children of God.

    2. No offence to your 'theology" - but I think we'll stick with God's version of what He required off His Son.. thank you.

    3. That's a major part of the problem: - the fact that some person would be so delusional as to imagine that they possessed "God's version." It would not come as much of surprise to learn that that person's idea of "God's version" of thinkgs coincided with their own.

    4. Absolutely! - - and isn't that why we do need the teaching authority of the Church.
      People go round in circles but we always arrive back at that point..

    5. Re/00.50
      (Yes... continue to ignore..)

  20. Pat, One mans prophet is another mans heretic!

  21. You are appealing to OT prophecy! Several OT prophets passed on God's command that whole communities be wiped out (men, women, children and their livestock). Presumably these weren't real prophets in your view? (Sorry if someone has already pointed out this obvious matter). God is God, if he wills to e.g. destroy the first born of every Egyptian, then it is right by definition we don't need to justify God.