Mercy (Catherine Rohr)

How hard is it for us to have mercy on someone?

Well, it's fairly easy when their actions don't directly affect us.

It's also easy when their talent is more apparent than their shortcomings.

It's hard, though, when we've emotionally attached ourselves to something.

When a redemption story goes wrong... when a hero falls from great heights... when someone who is an advocate for something we believe in does something unthinkable, something...


Catherine Rohr was an advocate for those no one else cared for. Catherine Rohr was a hero, someone to look up to and learn from and admire. Catherine Rohr recently did something unbearably human. In the midst of the incredible pain of divorce, she sought comfort in those who had been helped by her "Prison Entrepreneurship Program" in Texas prisons. Now, bear in mind that these were former inmates, men who had gotten their lives on the right track through hard work, who had paid their debt to society. Still... she had "inappropriate relationships" with the four men, and is no longer allowed to work in the program she spearheaded.

So how is the church going to react? Will the Willow Creek Association stand behind her and help her find healing, or have they gotten all they need out of her? Will all of those who attended the Leadership Summit speak of her as some sort of villian, another in a long line of disappointments? This woman ultimately gave up her marriage for the good of others (and we don't know anything about that situation)... she was feeling alone and abandoned and confused, and she looked for comfort.

Will we have mercy on her? I am not a big leader in the church. I am not some sort of theologian or philosopher, and I don't have a Doctorate in Ministry from some well-respected ministry. I am not one who will shape public perception. So all I can do is pray.

Pray that we have mercy on Catherine Rohr.

Pray that we stand with her as she struggles to find healing and closure.

Pray that one day she can use her considerable talents to once again do amazing things for God.

And finally, pray that God will forgive me for my own lack of mercy in the past, for the time when I stood with the rest in judgment of a fallen brother.


At This Time said...

The church is known as the only entity that "shoots its wounded".
It tends to forget that it is an organization of wounded people, looking for ointment for healing. I appreciate your stand on this situation. What Catherine Rohr learns from this is almost as important as to what the church learns from it. I pray we all do the right thing.

Robert Tewart said...

Why is it that neither you nor Jeremy will use the word "Sin." It's okay, really. Jesus used it, and for good reason.

I understand about forgiveness, part of the process is repentance. "Healing" and "closure" will come in God's good time. For now, is it fair to say that she has willingly forfeited her place of influence and that perhaps it should stay that way for awhile?

Richard said...

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" -Jesus

The reason I am not using the word sin (and once again, Robert, I am not here to speak for Jeremy, so don't ask me about him) is that I feel our judgmental and hypocritical sub-culture will once again focus on the sins of a visible figure, and point public fingers in judgment, with very little regard for the mercy and grace we are commanded to show.

Notice that the post was called "Mercy" rather than "Mercy and Sin" or something of that nature. I, as the author, chose to focus on the need for Mercy, and if you would like to use the word "sin" and cast stones, feel free to do so on your own blog.

Robert Tewart said...

Richard, you use that verse out of context. Many wider mercy liberal types and emergents play fast and easy with scripture. Don't find yourself in those camps. I'm sure once you look at the text in context, you will find that Jesus was addressing Pharisees and the like of judging from a hypocritical point of view. A "Holier than thou" position if you will.

Richard, it is ok to judge if we do so on the solid ground of scripture. Jesus told the woman at the will to go and SIN no more. Can we not do the same? He also said that we commit adultery with just our eyes, can we not state the fact that it is sin. Sin of this type does not just happen overnight. It is not simply a mistake as Jeremy writes on his blog. It is calculated, planned and executed with great detail being given to remaining hidden. So why should we not encourage a person to step down out of the public eye for a season--perhaps even for good. Grace and mercy--of course, but repentance and brokeness over the matter should be evident as well, and only time will tell if a person is truly sorry. Don't forget, it is not simply her reputation or Christianity looking bad, but the sullying and drudging of the name of the One we represent throught the mud.

Sorry if my refering to Jeremy bothers you, it's just that he had a reference to your blog in his post. For whatever reason, he doesn't have the wherewithall to post ANY comments that disagree with his point of view. What kind of intelectual honesty is that? He has long ago stopped posting anything of mine.

Richard said...

Robert, did David step down after his Bathsheba incident? Did Peter stop leading Christ followers after denouncing Christ three times (which He specifically said would cause Him to deny us in front of the Father)?

There is redemption to be had, and talents to be utilized, and the only thing we CAN'T do is judge sin... I mean, you must remember that the jews held the authority to judge and forgive sins in quite high regard, and Jesus used his office as messiah to judge sins and then forgive them. He then told us to FORGIVE, but not to judge.

It is, in fact, that "holier than thou" attitude that we convey when we sit in judgment of someone else's servant. I would warn you not to find yourself in those shoes. It is years and years of this attitude that has left the church a largely irrelevant fringe movement when we used to find respect and a strong voice in society.

As for Jeremy:

Jeremy MOST LIKELY doesn't post what you have to say because your writing seems to have a constant inflammatory intent, as if reiterating your beliefs on theological particulars gave you some sort of satisfaction or accolade, from Christ or from some other source. I've heard this sort of attitude before, and it's always turned me off, even when the person is otherwise quite intelligent, entertaining, and eloquent (i.e. Mark Driscoll, R.C. Sproul). You seem, at times, to be completely unwilling to consider the possibility that you are wrong, or that there is an alternative perspective that is of equal worth, that holds no danger toward absolute truth. I have never, ever seen you drop a pointless argument, even when given a mutually equitable exit. This gets old very, very quickly. I could be wrong, but that is my point of view, and I am someone with lots of patience and not a lot of attention on myself. You think Jeremy doesn't get 25 comments just like yours, trying to prove they are smarter than a pastor at a megachurch?

Once again, these are my words, not his. If you are hurt because he has found a way to keep you from attacking him on his own blog, deal with it somewhere else. I would rather not be forced to do as he has done, and moderate each and every comment. I don't get many, but that would still be quite a waste of time.

In fact, if Jeremy is mentioned or even alluded to in your next post, it will be my prerogative to delete your comments upon arrival from this day forward. I apologize if this is a bit ingracious, but my patience has worn quite thin.

Ned said...

Richard, it seems you have concluded that doing anything besides forgiving sin falls into the catagory of judging. But we see Paul telling the Corinthians to kick out the church member who was sleeping with his mother-in-law. And we see in 1 Timothy and Titus list of qualifications for those who would be elders (leaders) in the church. These passages required us to make judgments about people's character and behavior. In addition, the implication is that if someone in a position fails to maintain these qualifications, that they should be removed from that leadership because they are no longer qualified.

Yes, we forgive their sin but the fact that they sinned most likely will affect their leadership in the church. Unfortunately, there aren't any clear guidelines for how long they should be out of leadership and what they must do to regain a leadership position. For that we're left to figure it out the best we can using other biblical principles.

Richard said...

Ned, I don't believe at all that she should simply continue unhindered in what she is doing with PEP (which, by the way, is not necessarily a church-sanctioned or church-affiliated venture). Yes, the Bible does tell us that if the problem isn't dealt with, we should act, and that there are certain qualifications for a leader that must be met.

However, you are very right to say that anything other than forgiveness (which, by definition, is unforgiveness)is a sin. We should forgive, and take steps to bring about healing in our fallen leaders. Biblically, in the old testament there were towns where people who had messed up majorly could go and start over without fear of repercussion. Where is that today, for our leaders?

I'm not advocating a complete obliviousness, or a syrupy, cheap grace. She is right to have stepped down for a while, and that is hard for any leader to do. However, we should treat her with mercy and love, including loving her enough to tell her "it's not time yet" when she wants to go charging out already with much healing still to go.

1 sinner 2 another said...

I would just like Catherine Rohr to be honest about how many other PEP Graduates who were under her care and authority this has happened with. I Know of 2 PEP Graduates and she used PEP funds to fund their relationship and also encouraged them to exaggerate their testimonies (lie) in order to gain more sympathy from donators. When one of these grads refused to go along with it anymore, she rejected him and told her PEP employees to do the same. I know of a another PEP graduate this happened with to. So 2 more that she has NOT admitted to and also the 4 that she has admitted to. She said this happened during her divorce, but this happened before, during and after...Come out and be honest and then the captives will be set free and forgiveness and healing can begin.

I pray that her marriage is reconciled. I pray for healing in her and her ex- husband hearts and minds and all that this has and will effect. I am reminded of Hosea 2 and the prostitute he was called to go buy back and marry. She is forgiven by me. God teaches us the most when we are broken, exposed and on our knees... but we will never know full healing until we are fully honest. I say this to myself too. My sin is no greater. God protect our marriages from this!