Brennan Manning


One of my (evangelical) friends recently told me of a great spiritual writer, Brennan Manning. She expressed to me that it was in reading one of this author’s fine books that she was able to overcome a self-destructive habit. However, she was wondering if he was still Catholic. I didn’t know, since I had never heard of the guy before she mentioned him to me, and therefore I did an online search. I discovered, to my delight, that Brennan Manning was a Franciscan who once taught theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville! However, I also discovered, to my horror, evidence which suggests that he left the Franciscan Order, got married and subsequently became divorced. I also found evidence which suggests that he mixes Eastern spirituality with Western spirituality in way that disregards certain foundational Catholic beliefs.

Just yesterday one of my Catholic theologian friends generouslygave me a book by Anthony de Mello, S.J. I have no doubt that I will gain valuable insights from this book, but I found out that the works of Anthony de Mello have been condemned by the former Cardinal Ratzinger. According to the condemnation, his books books aberrate too much from traditional Catholic (Christian) belief concerning God. So it seems that there has recently been at least one “Catholic” spiritual writer whose works have been condemned for being too “Eastern” in their description of God and man’s relationship to Him.

I firmly intend to buy some of Manning’s works and to read them, but I just want to know more about this (former) Franciscan and whether or not I can expect orthodox Catholic beliefs from his works. I understand that not all religious who leave their orders have given up the Catholic faith (Luke Timothy Johnson good example of traditional-minded Christian); so I’m not really basing my concerns on this. It’s just that sometimes spiritual writers, when they travel the world and interact with non-Christian cultures, end up adopting viewpoints that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith.

My friend added at the end of our conversation that in one of his books he talks about how he no longer has much to do with the Catholic Church.

Any information on the orthodoxy of this guy’s works and his present relationship with the Cathoilc Church is much appreciated. :slight_smile:


I’m waiting for an answer…:slight_smile:


The late Christian singer Rich Mullins named his band, The Ragamuffins, after Manning’s book “The Ragamuffin Gospel.” The first time he heard Manning, apparently was reluctantly at the insistence of his friend who put a tape of his sermon on and Rich was so moved he had to pull the car over to listen.

Like many books, I only read the first few dozen pages.

It sounded like he was greatly influenced by some of the same heretical and/or scrupulosity that served for teaching when he young, that my own mother suffered from.

The impression I get is he was not too fond of the “mortal v venial” sin issue, partly perhaps because he found it very confusing. He gave an interesting and somewhat funny anecdote about having ordered a hot dog at a baseball game, then after receiving it realized it was Friday and then was in a quandary over whether it was less of a sin to eat the hot dog or to waste it. (My brother tells me that they taught him it was worse to waste food in such a situation.)

The impression I got was his main message was that we are all sinners and that Christ loves us all, and he seemed to be, shall we say, a tad “hostile” at some of the intellectualizing that he thinks detracts from the overwhelming message of love that Christ brought.

My guess is he doesn’t claim allegiance to Catholicism any more, but that’s just a guess.

Personally, I benefitted greatly from reading the first section of his Ragamuffin Gospel book, but it was quite a while ago and I was having some serious problems with the Church, and it helped me see that I wasn’t the only one, but I can’t remember any details other than those I already mentioned.



I’ve found Brennan Manning’s books to be very helpful and I remember them as pretty orthodox, even if he himself doesn’t agree with all the practices of the Church. I’m not Catholic though, and it’s been a little while since I last read anything by him, so I may have missed something. For more on his life, there’s this article:


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