Friday, August 6, 2010

Catholic Teaching, and Whatever?

The Church, as the human institution that she is in the world, is awash with various practices that divert the faithful from the traditional doctrine taught by Peter and provided so clearly for us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and one diversion is this version of "male spirituality"—one of many whatever’s wayward priests become enamoured with—as reported in this article from the New Oxford Review.

An excerpt.

“During the past few years, I've noticed among Catholic circles a marked increase in the attention paid to the work of Fr. Richard Rohr. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Fr. Rohr wrote and spoke often on the Enneagram, but lately he seems to have abandoned "personality spirituality" for the now-popular "male spirituality." Through several recent visits to my own diocese, Rohr has attracted quite a local following. So, in order to better understand the increasing "Rohr phenomenon," I decided to purchase his most recent book, Adam's Return, and attend a conference given by him titled "Men Matter: A Quest for the True Self." Surprisingly, there were over 400 people in attendance, some having traveled hundreds of miles to be there. After reading the book, going through a few of his other writings, and then listening to his presentations, I have come to believe that Fr. Richard Rohr adheres to some very questionable, if not dangerous, beliefs. Although most of what he says and writes may appear harmless to most people, the discerning Catholic reader will notice that underneath the surface lie ideas and opinions, some of them fundamental to Rohr's message, that reside outside of the realm of orthodox Catholic teaching. I would like to look at a few of these ideas here.

“God the 'Mother'?

“Rohr began his presentation by speaking about the phenomenon of the "Father Wound" that he has noticed in young men throughout the world, but especially in the U.S. Many young men, he claims, grow up with weak, abusive, or absent fathers, which leaves the young men wounded. From that wound flows what Rohr calls a "Father Hunger" -- a desire to have an authentic father figure in their lives. Rohr's "masculine spirituality" uses symbols, archetypes, and rituals that, he argues, speak especially to males in order to help cure the "Father Wound."

“But Rohr fails to demonstrate a true Christian solution to the problem he diagnoses. I would argue that such a remedy must encourage a healthy family life and authentic fatherhood on earth, but most importantly must be founded in having the young men become aware of God the Father's paternal love for them. Part of the reason that Rohr is unable to provide this solution is because of his flawed concept of Revelation, especially regarding the paternity of God.

“Rohr makes it very clear that he does not want to be limited to having to call God "Father." He writes in Adam's Return (which was the basis for his presentations) that we must "find public ways to recognize, honor, and name the feminine nature of God...."