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Leila Miller

Leila is the author of Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom. In addition to her own blog, she is a contributor to Catholic Answers Magazine Online. Leila and her husband have eight children and several grandchildren. 

Warning: New Ager Fr. Richard Rohr is making a comeback

Warning: New Ager Fr. Richard Rohr is making a comeback

Disclaimer: When I started this post, I tried to be thoughtful and write only in measured tones. But the more I read Rohr’s work and watched his videos and interviews, the more I wanted to scream out a warning to the sheep about this wolf. Fr. Richard Rohr’s New Age-gobbledygook-heresy-apostasy-psychobabble is just so bad. It barely pretends to be Christian, but then Rohr pretty much admits the pretense. And, he’s been up to this for decades. For many years now, I thought he had faded away to where old dissident clergy go, such as Bishops Gumbleton, Weakland, Hubbard and Clark, Untener, etc. (If y’all thought the “lavender mafia” in the Church is a new thing, you weren’t reading The Wanderer in the 1990s, pre-internet, when many of us knew of the scandals and the players—all as seemingly untouchable as is the current cabal today). But no, Rohr is still on the scene. He’s been rehabilitated for, or at least re-introduced to, a new generation of Catholics who were babies or not yet born when his shenanigans were documented along with the rest of the gang just mentioned. In the course of writing this post and encountering Rohr’s (literal) nonsense, I went from calm to indignant to outraged that he is now influencing the next generation. It’s hard to grasp that his latest book is ranked #1 in the Amazon categories of “Christian Meditation Worship & Devotion” and “Christology.” Rohr’s false New Age teachings expose souls to much spiritual danger, and you will hear my exasperation reflected in my tone. So be it. Lord, have mercy on us.


Way back in the mid-1990s, when I had my “reversion,” it was common knowledge among the faithful that Fr. Richard Rohr was a dissident, New Age guru-priest to be avoided at all costs. The Wanderer newspaper had lots of info on the man, including his weird “Wild Man Retreats” where, to the priest’s delight, grown men would get naked in the woods and, uh, bond. Rohr assures us that “this nudity occurs spontaneously”—though it’s always expected and most welcome.

To get a preliminary feel for who Richard Rohr is, read through his own explanation of his “retreats” and talks. It shouldn’t be hard to notice red flags whirling like helicopter blades: The almost gleeful focus on male nudity, touching, homoeroticism, talk of “burning their balls,” “semen,” “lovemaking,” “self-massage,” and homosexual affirmation makes for an uncomfortable read, but even more so after living through the last year of Church scandals, where the lavender mafia has continued to be, ahem, exposed, and yet is still firmly and brazenly running the joint. Read for yourself:

Coloring Outside the Lines

I once saw Richard Rohr in person. It was before Bishop Thomas Olmsted came to Phoenix, when our diocese was still one of the most dissenting and “liberal” in the nation. I was a brand-new, on-fire revert already teaching RCIA in my parish when I signed up to attend the diocesan catechetical conference. I was warned by faithful Catholics to wear my scapular and bring holy water to the event.

My friends were not exaggerating the spiritual danger. Fr. Richard Rohr was one of two keynote speakers, and the other was a Buddhist nun. Yes, a Buddhist nun. There was (of course!) no tension between their beliefs or presentations. Rohr was wearing a comfy sweater as he pontificated against both the “institutional Church” and the reigning pontiff, John Paul II.

The workshop/session leaders were cut from the same cloth as Rohr.

For example, one workshop I attended was on “women’s spirituality,” where the radical feminist who led us began by stating, almost apologetically, that “we will reference Christian scriptures today, because those are the ones we are probably most familiar with!” This smiling lady spouted so much incomprehensible fem-speak that I had to ask my friend and fellow attendee—newly liberated from radical feminism herself—to translate some of it later. She told me she felt like she was back in her previous life, surrounded by her wiccan and lesbian friends; she knew the lingo.

During another workshop, this time on the liturgy, a feisty religious sister encouraged a hundred eager catechists to—I kid you not—protest part of Holy Mass. “You should remain silent when prompted to say ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you’….You are worthy!!” she thundered. (The nice older nun next to me saw my stricken face and patted my hand sympathetically during the audience’s frenzied applause.)

Yes indeed, the conference organizers knew that Fr. Richard Rohr would fit right in with the particular, uh, spirit of the conference.

Fr. Rohr’s unfortunate popularity among some younger Catholic bloggers and writers (some with book deals and real influence), and the fact that his programs are still used to form deacons in some dioceses, necessitates a deeper look into his bizarre beliefs. In no particular order:

Rohr participates in illicit intercommunion. Watch and cringe as he receives and distributes communion at an Episcopal church. At least the wafer of bread that he drops on the ground is not actually Jesus (since the Episcopalians do not have valid holy orders), although I’d bet the farm that Rohr thinks it’s all the same.

Rohr officially endorses Soulforce, an LGBTQ activist group whose “roots are in challenging religion-based oppression.” (Guess which religion is accused of being oppressive?) The group’s activism “lead[s] from the understanding that oppressive religious beliefs, civil rights abuses and anti-feminist attitudes that oppress LGBTQ people are interrelated.” Using all the right progressive buzzwords (à la James Martin), Rohr chastises the nasty ol’ Church as acting in opposition to Christ while elevating LGBTQ activists as the real Christians, the real pursuers of “justice and truth.”

Rohr denies the Christian understanding of the existence of hell, which he says would make God a tyrant. Makes one wonder: Why did Christ suffer and die to save us from our sins if there is no hell anyway? But never mind silly questions like that. Fr. Rohr magnanimously clarifies Scripture for us, showing us what Jesus really meant by those “hell” passages, and that the Church got it all wrong for two millennia. Man oh man, what a blunder! But Rohr straightens it all out. Whew! This priest, whose mission (like every priest) is the salvation of souls, teaches us that souls don’t need saving.

Rohr teaches that Jesus (the man) is something separate from Christ, aka "the Cosmic Christ." We discover in his talks that the “Universal Christ” is “Another Name for Every Thing.” There’s no way I can really describe what kind of nonsense this is. Here, read for yourself:

A universal notion of Christ takes mysticism beyond the mere individual and private level that has been seen as mysticism’s weakness. If authentic God experience overcomes the primary false split between yourself and the divine, then it should also overcome the equally false split between yourself and the rest of creation.

For some of us, the first split is overcome personally in an experience of Jesus, but for many others (maybe even most!), union with the divine is first experienced through the Christ: in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, awe before beauty, or some kind of “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” experience. Why? Because creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God. The first incarnation of the Christ Mystery started about 13.8 billion years ago at “The Big Bang.” So some start with Jesus, but many who began with the Christ Mystery did not have that experience validated by the Church. They looked secular, humanistic, or like mere “nature mystics.”

Folks! That is not satire! That is actually the way this priest writes and talks and believes, and it has no basis whatsoever in Christianity. Run, don’t walk, away from this nothingness disguised as enlightenment.

Oh, and you can hear “Richard” speak in May on what we less “enlightened” folks would call heterodoxy: From his upcoming speaking schedule: “We know many people are looking forward to the final conference in our seven-year series exploring Richard’s themes of an alternative orthodoxy” [emphasis mine]. Gosh, of course. Who wouldn’t want Richard’s “alternative orthodoxy” to replace actual orthodoxy? I’m sure God the Father along with both Jesus and “Cosmic Christ” are all super impressed with Richard’s new themes!

Rohr believes the Church has blocked our true understanding of the “Cosmic Christ”: That’s right. The Church is not the repository of Truth on earth, but rather the obstacle to truth! Rohr actually said this: “By proclaiming my faith in Jesus Christ, I have made two acts of faith, one in Jesus and another in Christ. The times are demanding this full Gospel of us now.” Um. He is proclaiming new revelation. A new understanding of Jesus Christ. A new gospel. But look at his courage and honesty (sarc): “I think we are all sad to admit that organized Christianity has often resisted and opposed the true coming of the Cosmic Christ. The coming of the Cosmic Christ is not the same as the growth of the Christian religion. It is the unification of all things.” He talks of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism…. You guys, I want to say something measured, but my mind is just rebelling after reading this. I need to go dunk myself in holy water.

Rohr denies God’s created order of a male and female reality. But of course he does! He’s a leftist sexual “progressive” who states: “Binary genders (male and female) are more an imposition of our dualistic minds than the nature of reality.” Male and female—that’s a social construct dontcha know, not something real! Thankfully, he says, some Christian churches, like Episcopalians, now bless homosexual “marriage” because their “consciousness” has “moved to a higher level.” Oyyyyyyyyy!! You know, come to think of it, there’s someone else who denies the “gender binary.” Click here to see.

Okay, I’m just about done now. One can only sit in this goop for so long. How about just one more.

Rohr presents outright New Age gobbledy-gook via Ken Wilber, about different levels of consciousness. Unbelievable nonsense. Except that people believe this nonsense.

Stay far, far away from the works of Richard Rohr and all New Age lies. The preservation of your Catholic Faith and your soul may depend on it.

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