Statement from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM after meeting Pope Francis
1 July 2022
I am full of joy – ecstatic even – reflecting on my meeting with Pope Francis. Our conversation focused on how the rediscovery of the contemplative mind can serve the renewal of Christianity and healing of our world.
Sitting across from each other, I shared with him about what God has done in my life – from my beginning as a charismatic, learning the healing power of heart-based devotional prayer, to confronting the social justice issues of our time through my travels around the world, to founding an organization for the teaching of action and contemplation. I consider putting those two back together to be the historic and singular opportunity we have in this moment.
Pope Francis listened to what I shared and seemed genuinely eager to encourage our work. I brought him a copy of Universal Christ, my end-of-life book, but he said he had already read it!
He shared three times very directly, “I want you to keep doing what you’re doing, keep teaching what you’re teaching.” For this Catholic boy from Kansas, that is a wonderful, hard-to-believe affirmation coming from the Pope himself, for the whole Christian contemplative movement.
Of course, most of my own teaching years are now behind me. I am in the twilight of my own life. Yet I remain utterly convinced of the message that led me to found the Center for Action and Contemplation nearly 35 years ago: the rediscovery of the contemplative roots of Christianity is the key to the future of our faith.
The teaching of the contemplative mind gets to the heart of the matter because it changes consciousness, and thus transforms how we relate to ourselves, each other, and God. I believe it is the key to experiencing what Jesus calls “metanoia” and St. Paul refers to as the “new mind.” Jesus modeled it, and the desert mothers and fathers in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia understood and cultivated it. It was taught systematically in monasteries for centuries. It is a treasure of our Christian tradition.
The Christian contemplative movement has worked for decades now to renew and reimagine how this ancient wisdom can be taught and shared. Today, it is becoming increasingly accessible to everyone. It is hard to overstate the potential implications for helping heal our church and world.
Leaving the meeting with Pope Francis, accompanied by our Executive Director Michael and our small group, with the support and encouragement of our whole community, I felt great hope in what God is doing.
About the Center for Action and Contemplation
The Center for Action and Contemplation is an educational nonprofit that introduces spiritual seekers to the contemplative Christian path of transformation. We offer teachings by our core faculty that are rooted in Christian mystical traditions and point to our intrinsic oneness with God and each other. Founded by Franciscan Richard Rohr in 1987, our programs and resources are designed to help deepen prayer practice and strengthen compassionate engagement in the world.
With thanks to the Center for Action and Contemplation.