Recruitment: the Way to Unhappiness – an excerpt from Opening Minds, part 2

Some Catholics have remarked on the rigid and almost robotic appearance of the  Legionaries  of Christ, as if they were mass-produced by some kind of priest-making system. This could derive from the particular way they are trained and molded the moment they enter the group and deprived of their individual personalities and traits…

 

ReGAIN  is indebted to Opening Minds blog and book for the main content. What we like about this explanation is that it is very clear and simple; it cuts across the lines of particular ideologies or doctrines -and area in which Catholics seems to blank out.

We feel the need to explain to CATHOLIC READERS how we can approach ‘sects/cults’ from a theological or psychological/sociological perspective. We Catholics usually think in terms of theology; if a group is theologically ORTHODOX (modus credendi) it cannot be a sect. However, from a psychological, spiritual and truly religious perspective that same group can be suspect if is uses methods to recruit, retain members, fund raise and generally operate (modus operandi) in such a way that manipulates its members -does not let them discern, question, choose freely- and places them under undue pressure to conform, using coercive persuasion, control, manipulation…

The breakthrough, aha moment, for Catholic and Christian readers occurs when they realize that, no matter what, or how apparently holy, the doctrines/beliefs/ideals/goals involved, certain group leaders use the same manipulative techniques to recruit, retain and control their members; and that even though the doctrines/idealogies are miles apart, the methods used by these groups, associations, fraternities, communities, orders are all uncannily similar.

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Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Jon Atack‘s new book, Opening Minds, chapter 2. This is the second part of a two-part blog.

Manipulative groups and individuals use similar approaches to trick us into handing over our cash and our  loyalty. In part one, we saw how manipulation most often follows a series of steps; today we continue with:

Step Three: Finding the Ruin

Once rapport has been established, the recruiter may seek out the most significant difficulty in the recruit’s life. In Scientology, this is called the ‘ruin’: ‘What is ruining your life?’ If the first steps have been followed carefully, most people offer up even their most secret troubles. Unless they’ve been hurt before after revealing their secrets, most people welcome a chance to say what they feel and receive sympathy for their problems. It is surprising how willing people are to share their deepest longings with complete strangers, as if there is a need to confess; this deepens rapport.

Step Four: Fear of Worsening

Scientology recruiters then push the target into ‘fear of worsening. The recruit is exploited to feel discouraged about the ‘ruin’: ‘I’m sure you’ve tried everything, but nothing has worked.’ Confession of troubles usually shifts the recruiter into a position of authority. The recruit will follow directions almost like Pavlov’s dogs, which salivated in anticipation of food when a bell was rung.

Step Five: Bring to Understanding

Next, the recruiter will use the information from this confession to demonstrate that the recruit desperately needs the group in order to make life better; Scientology recruiters call this step to ‘bring to understanding’. Sales manuals suggest that a story be made up to show sympathy: ‘I know a guy who had exactly the same problem. He took a few of our courses and everything started to work out for him.’

The ‘understanding’ is that the cult can solve any problem that is presented – whether it is romantic, financial, work-related or spiritual – anything and everything can be resolved by the offered course, counselling or study programme, so the recruiter has no difficulty in inventing a supporting story: the ends justify the deceptive means.

During the first course, seminar, or workshop, the recruiters will continue the love-bombing, while using a hypnotic technique to bring about a peak experience. After long enough, any type of repetition, mimicry or fixation leads to a euphoric altered state.

Chanting, drumming, group singing, visual fixation – as in meditation – repetition of a word or phrase (‘mantra meditation’), repeated movements, such as rocking, shaking, or walking meditations, all lead to an altered state. Some narcissists use sexual pleasure to trap their victims.Most people in western society are unfamiliar with the effects of eastern meditation, so they are delighted and surprised by the euphoria that floods them. Almost every former member I’ve talked with had an initial peak experience, and spent the remainder of their time in the cult trying – and failing – to repeat it.

It is likely that the peak experience is simply a release of dopamine or serotonin. These neurochemicals are the ‘reward’ system of the brain, and are released during sex and by alcohol and drug use. In a group setting, surrounded by approving people, cult techniques can lead to a powerful high in the new recruit. This is the experience of awe.

Awe changes our perception of the world. We are awed by celebrities, by vastness, by skill, by ‘miracles’ and by beauty. Awe can be induced as part of a peak experience. New recruits are infatuated by flattery and the prospect of miraculous change in their lives. When awed, our critical faculties diminish.

Once we believe that a leader has miraculous powers, we become willing to believe anything that leader says. Awe turns to fervour and the recruit adopts the beliefs of the manipulator and will defend them as if defending their own child: just as we are unwilling to hear criticism of our children, nothing bad will be accepted about the manipulator, whose ideas have become gospel truth.

Step Six: Reinforcement

Testimonials are demanded for reinforcement. In Scientology these are called ‘success stories’. This reinforces consistency: the more publicly and loudly you commit to a technique or experience, the more difficult it will be to change back later.  People trying to give up smoking are advised to tell all of their friends that they have given up, because, under the consistency principle, it will make it harder to admit defeat and light another cigarette.

We all suffer from confirmation bias, where we justify our actions and dismiss anything that disagrees with our beliefs. There is a quality of inertia to all human activity; we keep going in the direction we’re travelling in. Delivering a testimonial – or simply telling all our friends – reinforces the sense of belonging and further confirms our bias.

Often, members will be encouraged to confess their former sinful lives in front of the group. By humbling themselves in this way, people give ever more power to the group. Members come to believe that everything good can be attributed to the group’s practices, and everything bad is their own fault.

A particular group or individual may not use all of these approaches. Some will focus on the potential recruit’s desperation, others will head straight for an experience of awe. Once lured into the trap, by whatever means, the recruit will go through a process of reinforcement that will draw them into the group or relationship and isolate them from their previous relationships and values.

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What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Jon’s new book? Do you have a story about recruitment into a high-control situation that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! 

Visit us at our Facebook page to leave comments on this article.

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Am I, or a loved one, involved with a Harmful Group? Find out

depression

Info-Culte,  a prominent and well respected Canadian association that studies harmful groups and relationships, explains their 35 year trajectory. And how “the field” has changed over the years. The address by founder, Mike Klopfeld will give the reader insight into how people are drawn into harmful groups and why so many concerned people study the phenomenon of charismatic Pied Pipers who lead the unwitting on a merry chase out of their minds and money.

by Mike Kropveld

Article based on a presentation given at the Beijing International Academic Symposium on Cultic Groups and Religious Culture, Beijing, China, August 15–16, 2015:

Scandal at the Vatican (New Video on the Legion of Christ)

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Thanks to the initiative of the former Legionary, Xavier Leger, the Irish, RTE, English language dubbing of the original French documentary, is now available.

Click here

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Vatican Intervention of a Catholic Sect, a True Story

VATICAN INTERVENTION

Andy Sullivan,

The Church’s worst nightmare. Love never fails.

 

https://vimeo.com/165480216

The Book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vatican-Intervention-Andrew-Lee-Sullivan/dp/1530876443

 

Amazon description:

The author exposes the hidden and outrageous world of a budding Catholic institute. A discarded insider and captive in an apartment near Rome, the once broken priest with suicidal tendencies survives. He shares his ordeal and bares his soul with raw sincerity.

In 1979, an idealistic and naïve Sullivan leaves California and joins a wannabe religious order named Miles Jesu. Two tragic but unclear realities threaten his future. The young man has a condition that retards the proper development of his emotional life. The eighteen-year-old unwittingly joins a cult. These two menaces trigger gradual human destruction. Life deteriorates into a victim’s futile attempts to endure a virtual sociopath.

Then a miracle of overwhelming love bursts in the soul of Father Sullivan. Secrets of the power of love, Jesus’ love transform him. All hell breaks loose. Breakneck emotional development surges. His only path to human salvation is to escape into the Vatican and face his worst fears. He must risk his future and unmask the cult to seize his freedom. Sullivan must face the consequences of feeling divine and human love for the first time.

Vatican Intervention advances fresh outlooks on universal themes: love, prayer, risk taking. This incredible love story of Church tragedy and hope underlines the existential nature of receiving love. It reveals the surprising impact therapeutic meditation can have on human emotions and their growth.

Superbly written, the story reflects Capote’s feel of real and Grisham’s page-turning narrative. While documenting a true testimony, it reads like compelling fiction.

This testimony is an ideal follow up story to Spotlight: The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Yet, Vatican Intervention shows blinding light at the end of the tunnel.

This book is especially suited for Christians and Catholics. It offers insight about church scandals and shares an epiphany of hope for anyone harmed by them. Bishops, priests, ministers, religious, seminarians, students, and church worshipers can discover enlightenment, healing, and the transforming power of love within its pages. Above all else, this is a book for anyone who has hit rock bottom in life.

Vatican Intervention is being adapted into a major motion picture by producer, Mario Domina of ThunderBall Films, Ltd. The original screenplay adaptation will be written by Brian L. Porter, author, screenwriter, and co-producer. Andrew Lee Sullivan will contribute as the co-writer and associate producer for the project.

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5.0 out of 5 stars

Miles Jesu, Opus Dei, Legion of Christ, Regnum Christi…

Miles Jesu and Legion of Christ

 

Review by J. Paul Lennon on June 15, 2016

Andy Sullivan’s story is gripping, illustrative, harrowing and hopeful. He was an American founding member of Miles Jesu, another one of the “New Religious Movements” that blossomed in the Catholic Church in the 1960’s around the time of the II Vatican Council. Some of these were decidedly maverick.
Very well written, entertaining, a real love story, a tale of abuse, survival and vindication. It contains one bad guy and many good guys, innocent recruits that the charismatic “Fr. Duran” hauled in his wake as he created a (another) movement to save the Catholic Church from itself.
Sullivan’s survival tale is remarkable because it describes being drawn into an abusive group, coping with that, falling into despair, struggling with celibacy, reporting the group to the dioceses of Rome, getting free and finally being able to marry the love of his life. When Sullivan, who had been one of the order’s chief fundraisers, became disenchanted and began questioning he was punished in several ways, including being placed under “house arrest” in Ostia, Italy.
Very insightful is Sullivan’s discovery of his Affective Deprivation Disorder. What is really surprising is how Sullivan finds a spiritual path to recovery in the midst of mental and emotional chaos. The book is worth the price for this element alone. Find out for yourself.
As a former Legionary of Christ who lived during the Maciel era, there were hundreds of “ah-ha” moments for the reviewer. Incredible how all these “gurus” have the same modus operandi in winning over followers and getting them to do their bidding, imposing iron-fisted discipline on their followers while they “the primrose path to dalliance tread.”
Another unique feature is Sullivan’s detailed description of his complicated dealings with authorities in the diocese of Rome (Vicariate) and at the Vatican (Congregation for Religious and Lay Institutes, Congregation for the Clergy) as he reports the chaotic environment he has been living in and then tries to get free from Miles Jesu and, after psychotherapy and much soul searching, seeks a dispensation from priestly celibacy. He describes the steps Roman authorities took to rein in the maverick institution. Steps and interventions similar to the Vatican intervention of the Legion of Christ 2010-2014; the Vicariate appears to have been more effective but ultimately the measures peter out in the same way as with the Legion when high Vatican powers decide to “save” the institution instead of going deeper with the surgical knife or abolishing it outright.
Fortunately, at the end of the story the lovers are reunited, get married in the Ukraine, have children, return to the USA and live happily -if modestly- ever after.

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(video) Pope Francis, Legion of Christ, Opus Dei, Miles Jesu and Undue Influence inside the Catholic Church

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Cult expert, Steven Hassan –Combating Mind Control author- interviews former Legionary of Christ, therapist, cult student and concerned Catholic; link: Paul Lennon

 

Santo Padre Francisco, 700 Legionarios de Cristo se quejan de Abusos!

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Santo Padre,

ojala esta noticia le llegue y no haya sido interceptado en el Vaticano por los Legionarios de Cristo que se dicen ser sus amigos y defensores de la ortodoxia y del papado.

Hace poco una nueva pagina ha aparecido en Facebook y se llama Legioleaks 

Ahi mas de 700 Legionarios se quejan de Maltrato y Abusos de todo tipo, incluyendo psicologico, medico, fisico, emocional, espiritual, de consciencia y sexual

?Por que se sigue dudando de la Legion de Cristo, del OPUS y otros Movimientos? Canonistas Catolicos nos dan la pista

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ARTICULO BILINGUE,

Traducido en su totalidad y exclusivamente para ReGAIN for A.F. que transita de un grupo catolico de alta presion.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pvLSz5NcVO19BdDVNIVW7Gmy69vDL6DBj54sOxPlsmw/edit?pref=2&pli=1#

 

SEPARANDO EL TRIGO DE LA CIZAÑA: 20 SIGNOS PROBLEMÁTICOS DE UN  NUEVO GRUPO RELIGIOSO.

Peter J. Vere, J.C.L., M.C.L.

Desde la clausura del Concilio Vaticano II, numerosos grupos nuevos han surgido dentro de la Iglesia. Muchos de ellos comienzan su andadura con buen paso y se mantienen con los pies sobre la tierra, otros sin embargo terminan con los pies “fuera del tiesto”. Esto puede deberse a su pobreza doctrinal o a prácticas cuestionables.

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Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group

Peter J. Vere, J.C.L., M.C.L.

Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council, a number of new groups have arisen within the Church. Whereas many new groups start off on the right foot and maintain solid footing, others fall by the wayside. This may be due to poor doctrine or questionable practices.

Red Flags and Warning Signs

As a canon lawyer, I am often asked what the Church looks for when assessing new groups forming within the Church. While the following is by no means exhaustive, it presents a pretty good list of red flags and warning signs that would give any canonist pause when examining a new association.

Banderas rojas y señales de alerta

Como canonista (abogado especializado en Derecho Canónico), suelen preguntarme qué es lo que busca la Iglesia cuando se asesora a nuevos grupos dentro de su seno. Aunque la siguiente relación no pretende ser exhaustiva, presenta un buen listado de banderas rojas y signos de alarma que deben alertar a cualquier canonista que se disponga a examinar una nueva asociación.

Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI is well-known to every student of religious law. As a lifelong member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Morrisey possesses much experience living in religious community. He is also a professor of canon law at Saint Paul University and a former consultor to the Congregation for Religious — the curial dicastery in Rome that oversees various forms of consecrated life within the Church. This has given him much experience examining and assessing numerous religious orders and new groups within the Church.

Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI es bien conocido para cualquier estudiante de derecho religioso. Como miembro a lo largo de toda la vida de los Oblatos de María Inmaculada, Fr. Morrisey posee mucha experiencia en la vida religiosa en comunidad. Es profesor de Derecho canónico en la Universidad San Pablo y ha sido consultor de la Congregación para la Vida Religiosa -el dicasterio de la Iglesia que supervisa las distintas formas de vida consagrada. Ello le ha aportado mucha experiencia para examinar y asesorar a numerosas órdenes religiosas y nuevos grupos dentro de la Iglesia.

Several years ago, Fr. Morrisey proposed 15 criteria, or warning signs, when evaluating new associations within the Church. While these warning signs are not law per se — that is, law in the sense of legislation — most canonists accept these criteria as a solid guide when examining and assessing new associations within the Church. For those with access to a good ecclesiastical library, Fr. Morrisey presents and explains these fifteen criteria in his article “Canonical Associations…” published in Informations, vol. 26, (2000), pp 88-109.

Hace varios años, Fr. Morrisey propuso 15 criterios o signos de alarma a la hora de evaluar nuevas asociaciones dentro de la Iglesia. Aunque dichos criterios no son ley por sí mismos -es decir, no son normativos- muchos canonistas los aceptan como una guía consolidada cuando hay que examinar y asesorar nuevas asociaciones en la Iglesia. Para aquellos que tengan acceso a una buena biblioteca eclesiástica, Fr. Morrisey presenta y explica esos 15 criterios en su artículo “Canonical Associations…” (Asociaciones canónicas…) publicado en Informations, vol. 26, (2000), pp 88-109.

For those without access to an ecclesiastical library, or for those looking for an explanation more accessible to the average layperson, here are Fr. Morrisey’s 15 criteria along with my personal explanation of what they mean:

Para quienes no tengan acceso a una biblioteca eclesiástica, o para aquéllos que estén buscando una explicación más accesible para el laico promedio, aquí se enuncian los 15 criterios del Padre Morrisey junto a una explicación personal de su significado:

 

Fr. Morrisey’s 15 Warning Signs-

15  SeŇales de Alerta del Padre Morrisey

 

  1. “Total” obedience to the pope

Many will find this first warning sign surprising. As Catholics, are we not all called to obey the Holy Father? Indeed, we are. When a new association sincerely seeks to obey and follow the teachings of the Holy Father, canonists are for the most part satisfied the group is doing what Catholic groups ought to do.

Nevertheless, some new associations abuse Catholic sensibility in this regard. These groups cite “total obedience to the Holy Father” when what they really mean is partial obedience to selected teachings of the Holy Father, without embracing the entire papal message. Additionally, when challenged over their partial obedience, these groups will appeal to their “total” reliance upon the Holy Father in an attempt to bypass the authority of the diocesan bishop. This brings us to Fr. Morrisey’s second warning sign.

 

  1. Obediencia “total” al Papa.

Muchos puede que encuentren sorprendente este primer signo de alarma. ¿No estamos llamados a obedecer al Santo Padre como católicos? Sí, lo estamos. Cuando una nueva asociación busca sinceramente obedecer y seguir las enseñanzas del Santo Padre, los canonistas están para asegurar que dicho grupo cumple lo que todos los grupos católicos deben hacer.

Sin embargo, algunas asociaciones católicas nuevas abusan de la sensibilidad católica al respecto. Esos grupos citan la “total obediencia al Santo Padre” cuando lo que realmente quieren decir es obediencia parcial a determinadas enseñanzas del Santo Padre, sin abrazar el mensaje papal al completo. Por añadidura, cuando sean advertidos de que su obediencia es parcial, estos grupos apelarán a su obediencia “total” para intentar hacer un puente a la autoridad del obispo diocesano. Esto nos lleva al segundo signo de alarma que señala el Padre Morrisey.

 

  1. No sense of belonging to the local church

As Catholics, we belong to the universal Church. Yet we also belong to the local church community, meaning a local parish and a local diocese. Even the Holy Father is not exempt in this regard; he is, after all, the Bishop of Rome and thus belongs to a local Roman Church. Thus the ministry and apostolate of any association should focus on the local church. If a new association or religious order has no sense of belonging to the local church, then this becomes cause for concern.

 

  1. Ausencia de sentido de pertenencia a la iglesia local.

Como católicos pertenecemos a la Iglesia universal. También pertenecemos a la comunidad de la iglesia local, entendiendo por ello la parroquia local y la diócesis local. Ni siquiera el Papa está exento a este respecto; él es, después de todo, el Obispo de Roma y por ello pertenece a la iglesia local de Roma. Por tanto, el ministerio y el apostolado de cualquier asociación debería enfocarse hacia la iglesia local. Si una nueva asociación u orden religiosa no posee sentido de pertenencia a la iglesia local, entonces hay motivo para preocuparse.

  1. Lack of true cooperation with diocesan authorities

To belong to the local church, one must cooperate with local diocesan authorities. After all, Christ instituted His Church as a hierarchy. Within this hierarchy, our Lord instituted the office of bishop to oversee a portion of Christ’s faithful. Thus the local bishop, and not a particular religious group or association, bears ultimate responsibility for the care of souls within a particular geographical location. If a new association refuses or impedes cooperation between itself and the local diocesan authorities, then its fidelity to the Church is questionable.

 

  1. Falta de cooperación auténtica o verdadera con las autoridades diocesanas.

Por pertenecer a la iglesia local, uno debe cooperar con las autoridades diocesanas locales. Después de todo, Cristo instituyó Su Iglesia como una jerarquía. Con esta jerarquía, nuestro Señor instituyó el oficio diocesano para supervisar una parte de los fieles de Cristo. Por tanto, el obispo local, y no una asociación o grupo religioso, tiene la última responsabilidad del cuidado de las almas en una localidad geográfica particular. Si una nueva asociación se niega o impide la cooperación con las autoridades locales diocesanas, entonces su fidelidad a la Iglesia es cuestionable.

 

  1. Making use of lies and falsehoods to obtain approval

As Catholics, we concern ourselves with speaking the truth. After all, our Lord denounces Satan as the “Father of Lies.” So any new association should be truthful in how it presents itself to its members, Church authorities, and the outside world. This is not just a matter of basic honesty; any group or association that resorts to falsehoods to gain approval is likely concealing a deeper problem.

The Church understands that every association, particularly when the association is new, makes mistakes when engaging in ministry or apostolate. When an association is honest, however, these problems are easily identified and quickly corrected. This in turn increases the likelihood of the new association succeeding within the Church.

 

  1. Hacer uso de la mentira y la falsedad para obtener la aprobación.

Como católicos, nos obligamos a nosotros mismos a hablar con la verdad. Después de todo, nuestro Señor denuncia a Satanás como el “Padre de la Mentira”. Así, cualquier nueva asociación debería ser auténtica en cómo se presenta a sí misma ante sus miembros, ante las autoridades de la Iglesia y ante el mundo exterior. Esto no es una cuestión de honestidad elemental; cualquier grupo o asociación que se valga de la mentira para conseguir la aprobación está ocultando un problema más profundo.

La Iglesia comprende que cualquier asociación, particularmente cuando es nueva, comete errores cuando se involucra en el ministerio o el apostolado. Cuando una asociación es honesta, sin embargo, esos problemas son fácilmente identificados y rápidamente corregidos. Eso aumenta el éxito de la nueva asociación en el seno de la Iglesia.

  1. Too soon an insistence on placing all goods in common

While the Church has a history of associations and religious orders in which members place all their goods in common, the decision to do so should come after a reasonable period of careful discernment. Placing one’s goods in common in not for everyone, and the consequences of such a decision are lifelong. Additionally, the potential for abuse by those who administer the common goods is great. Therefore, canonists frown upon any insistence by an association that its new or potential members place their goods in common.

Due to the fact that modern times see less stability in common life, with members sometimes opting to leave after a number of years, the most prudent handling of goods in common is to place them in trust until a member dies. That way, if the member leaves, the goods are available to meet his or her needs outside of the community.

 

  1. Prematura insistencia en la necesidad de poner en común los bienes.

Aunque la Iglesia tiene una larga historia de asociaciones y órdenes religiosas en las que los miembros ponen todos sus bienes en común, la decisión para hacerlo debería tomarse tras un periodo razonable de cuidadoso discernimiento. Poner los bienes en común no es para todo el mundo, la decisión de hacerlo afecta de por vida. Por otra parte, el abuso potencial de quienes administran esos bienes es grande. Por tanto, los canonistas tendrán que fruncir el ceño ante cualquier insistencia de una asociación nuevas para que sus potenciales miembros pongan sus bienes en común.

Debido a la vida en común es menos estable en los tiempos modernos, con miembros que se plantean abandonar tras cierto número de años, lo más prudente en cuanto al manejo de bienes en común es ponerlos en custodia (fideicomiso) hasta la muerte del miembro. De ese modo, si el miembro abandona, sus bienes están disponibles para sus necesidades fuera de la comunidad.

  1. Claiming special revelations or messages leading to the founding of the group

Although this represents a warning sign, it is not absolute. The Church recognizes the presence of many legitimate apparitions and private revelations throughout her history. Yet not all alleged apparitions or special revelations turn out to be true. Therefore, the Church must further investigate any claims of special revelations or messages — particularly when they become the catalyst for founding a new association. If, however, a new association refuses to divulge or submit its alleged revelations or special messages to the Church, then this immediately calls into question the authenticity of both the association and the alleged apparition.

 

  1. Reivindicación de revelaciones o mensajes especiales para la fundación del grupo.

Aunque esto representa un signo de alarma, no es un signo absoluto. La Iglesia reconoce la presencia de muchas apariciones legítimas y revelaciones privadas a lo largo de su historia. Sin embargo, no todas las supuestas apariciones, revelaciones especiales o mensajes son probados como verdaderas. Por tanto, la Iglesia debe investigar cualquier pretensión de revelaciones especiales o mensajes, en particular cuando se convierten en el catalizador para la fundación de una nueva asociación. Si una nueva asociación se opone a la divulgación o al sometimiento de las supuestas revelaciones a la Iglesia, entonces es procedente cuestionarse inmediatamente la autenticidad tanto de la asociación como de las supuestas apariciones o revelaciones.

 

  1. Special status of the founder or foundress

Of course, the founder or foundress will always enjoy a special role in the founding of a new association or community. Nevertheless, in all other respects he or she should be a member just like everyone else. This means that he or she is similarly bound to the customs, disciplines, and constitutions of the community. If the founder or foundress demands special meals, special living quarters, special dispensations from the rules imposed upon other members of the community, or any other special treatment, then this is a clear warning sign. It is of special concern if the founder or foundress claims exemption from the requirements of Christian morality due to his or her status (see point 15 below).

 

  1. Papel privilegiado del fundador o la fundadora.

Por supuesto, el fundador o la fundadora siempre disfrutará de un papel especial en la fundación de una nueva asociación o comunidad. Sin embargo, en el resto de aspectos debería ser un miembro exactamente igual que los demás. Esto significa que el fundador o la fundadora están sujetos a las mismas costumbres, disciplinas y constituciones que la comunidad. Si el fundador o la fundadora reclama comidas especiales, viviendas especiales, dispensaciones especiales de las reglas impuestas a los demás miembros de la comunidad, o cualquier otro tratamiento especial, entonces esto constituye un claro signo de alarma. Será de especial preocupación si el fundador o la fundadora solicita la excepción de los requerimientos de la moral cristiana debido a su estatus (ver punto 15).

  1. Special and severe penances imposed

As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, virtue is found in the middle, between two extremes. Therefore, any penances imposed upon members of the community should be both moderate and reasonable. Special and severe penances are not signs of virtue — rather, they are signs of extremism.

 

  1. Imposición de penitencias especiales y severas.

Como enseñaba Santo Tomás de Aquino, en el término medio está la virtud, entre ambos extremos. Por tanto, cualquier penitencia impuesta a los miembros de la comunidad debería ser al mismo tiempo moderada y razonable. Las penitencias especiales y severas no son signo de virtud. Más bien al contrario: son signos de extremismo.

  1. Multiplicity of devotions, without any doctrinal unity among them

The purpose of sacramentals and other devotions is to bring us closer to Christ and the sacraments. Hence sacramentals are not superstitions. A new association or community should insure that any special devotions or sacramentals unite its members to Christ, the sacraments, and the mission of the association. For example, praying three Hail Marys in front of the statue of St. Joseph while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed does not offer such unity. Eucharistic Adoration, Marian devotion and devotion to St. Joseph are all good in themselves, however, they should be offered either individually or collectively as devotion to the Holy Family. They should not be offered simultaneously.

 

  1. Multiplicidad de devociones, sin ninguna unión doctrinal entre ellas.

El propósito de los sacramentales y de otras devociones es ofrecernos más cercanía a Cristo y a los sacramentos. Por tanto, los sacramentales no son superstición. Una nueva comunidad o asociación debería garantizar que cualquier devoción especial o sacramental sirva para unir a sus miembros a Cristo, a sus sacramentos y a la misión de la asociación. Por ejemplo, rezar tres Avemarías delante de la estatua de San José mientras se expone el Santísimo no aporta esa unidad. La Adoración Eucarística, la devoción mariana y la devoción a San José son buenas en sí mismas, sin embargo, deberían ofrecerse por separado o colectivamente como devoción a la Sagrada Familia. No deben ofrecerse simultáneamente.

 

  1. Promotion of “fringe” elements in the life of the Church

As previously mentioned, every association or organization within the Church should exist to serve the needs of Christ’s faithful. Therefore, canonists view any association that exists solely to serve fringe elements — whether these elements be special apparitions, private revelations, or extreme social or political agendas, etc. — with suspicion.

 

This is not to deny that extraordinary events may sometimes become the catalyst for a new association or religious order. For example, St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscans after receiving a locution from our Lord to “Rebuild My Church.” Nevertheless, St. Francis did not found the Franciscans with the intention of promoting his internal locution. Rather, the internal locution inspired St. Francis to found an order that would serve the Church.

 

  1. Promoción de elementos “marginales” (periféricos) en la vida de la Iglesia.

Como se mencionó anteriormente, cualquier asociación u organización dentro de la Iglesia católica debería existir como servicio a las necesidades de la fe (de los fieles) en Cristo. Por tanto, los canonistas observan con suspicacia toda aquella asociación que exista exclusivamente para servir a elementos marginales -tanto si son apariciones especiales como revelaciones privadas, o proyectos de obras sociales o políticas, etc.-

Esto no significa negar que eventos extraordinarios puedan a veces convertirse en el catalizador de una nueva asociación u orden religiosa. Por ejemplo, San Francisco de Asís fundó los franciscanos después de haber recibido de nuestro Señor la petición “Reconstruye mi Iglesia”. Sin embargo, San Francisco no fundó los franciscanos con la intención de promover su llamada interna. Más bien fue la llamada interna la que inspiró a San Francisco la fundación de una orden que sirviera a la Iglesia.

 

  1. Special vows

Within the Church, one finds the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Additional or special vows present numerous problems. Often, special vows are reduced to means through which superiors unduly control members of the community or association. The danger is particularly pointed where a special vow cannot be externally verified. Take “joy” for example; one can usually appeal to objective evidence that someone is not living a life of poverty, chastity and/or obedience, but as a feeling, “joy” is too subjective to be judged in an objective manner.

 

  1. Votos especiales.

Dentro de la Iglesia, uno encuentra los tres votos tradicionales de pobreza, castidad y obediencia. Introducir votos añadidos o especiales presenta numerosos problemas. A menudo los votos especiales se reducen a ser formas de control indebidas de los superiores sobre los miembros de la comunidad o asociación. El peligro es particularmente señalado cuando un voto especial no puede ser externamente verificado. Estar alegre, por ejemplo. Uno puede apelar a la evidencia objetiva para saber si alguien no está viviendo su vida conforme a la pobreza, a la castidad y/o a la obediencia, pero en cambio un sentimiento como es la “alegría” es algo demasiado subjetivo como para poder ser valorado objetivamente.

 

  1. Absolute secrecy imposed on members

While some discretion and privacy is necessary within any Church community or association, secrecy should never be absolute unless one is a confessor preserving the seal of confession. Therefore, any association or organization that imposes absolute secrecy upon its members should be approached with the utmost caution. Members should always be free to approach diocesan officials and the Holy See if certain problems arise within the community that are not dealt with in an adequate fashion. Similarly, since these associations exist to serve the Church, all members should be allowed to converse freely and honestly with members of the Church hierarchy when requested.

 

  1. Imposición del secreto absoluto a los miembros.

Mientras que cierta discreción y privacidad son necesarias dentro de cualquier comunidad o asociación de la Iglesia, el secreto nunca debería ser absoluto excepto para quien sea confesor respecto a salvaguardar el secreto confesional. Por tanto, cualquier asociación u organización que imponga el silencio absoluto entre sus miembros debería ser abordada con la mayor cautela. Los miembros deberían ser siempre libres para dirigirse a los funcionarios diocesanos con el Espíritu Santo si ciertos problemas surgen dentro de la comunidad y no se resuelven de la manera más adecuada. De modo similar, puesto que esas asociaciones existen para servir a la Iglesia, todos los miembros deberían estar autorizados para conversar con total libertad y honestidad con los miembros de la jerarquía eclesiástica cuando fuese necesario.

  1. Control over the choice of confessors and spiritual directors

Confession and spiritual direction concern the internal forum — that is, those things that are private to a person’s conscience. Within reasonable limits, a person should be free to choose his or her confessor and spiritual director. On the other hand, obedience to one’s superiors in carrying out an association’s apostolate or ministry concerns the external forum. In other words, the latter are public actions that can be externally verified.

The roles of confessor and spiritual director should never be confused with the role of superior. Nor should there even be the appearance of confusion. Of particular concern to canonists is when a superior imposes himself as confessor and/or spiritual director of a member under his charge. After all, a superior will have to make decisions about a member’s future — and in so doing there exists a strong temptation to make use of information gathered under the seal of confession.

 

  1. Control sobre la elección de confesores y directores espirituales.

La confesión y la dirección espiritual concierne al foro interno -esto es, al conjunto de cosas que son privadas de la conciencia personal. Dentro de límites razonables, una persona debería ser libre para elegir a su confesor y a su director espiritual. Por otra parte, la obediencia a los superiores en cuanto al apostolado desarrollado por una asociación o ministro concierne al foro externo. En otras palabras, el último está constituido por acciones públicas que pueden ser verificadas externamente.

Los papeles de confesor y de director espiritual nunca deberían confundirse con el papel de superior. No debería siquiera haber lugar para la confusión. Una cuestión de particular importancia para los canonistas es cuando un superior se impone a sí mismo como confesor y/o director espiritual de un miembro a su cargo. Después de todo un superior tendrá que tomar decisiones sobre el futuro de ese miembro -y actuando así existe una tentación fuerte a hacer uso de información reservada bajo el secreto de confesión.

 

  1. Serious discontent with the previous institute of which certain members were part

Like some of the other red flags presented, this warning sign is not absolute. Sometimes, a very good reason exists for a member’s discontent with his or her previous institute. Nevertheless, serious discontent with a previous institute should be carefully examined. In most cases, such discontent points to some deeper problems with the individual, particularly if he or she has a history of “conflict of personalities.”

 

  1. Serio descontento con el instituto anterior o con ciertos miembros que formaron parte del mismo.

Como algunas de las anteriores banderas rojas que se han presentado, este signo de advertencia no es absoluto. A veces, una muy buena razón existe para el descontento de un miembro con su instituto anterior. En cualquier caso, siempre debería ser examinado seriamente. En muchos casos dicho descontento señala algunos problemas profundos con el individuo, particularmente si éste tuvo una historia de “conflicto de personalidades”.

(Editor ReGAIN: conflictos del Padre Maciel con la orden de los Jesuitas)

  1. Any form of sexual misconduct as a basis

This warning sign is fairly self-explanatory. The Church’s teaching is clear when it comes to sexual morality. If sexual immorality is the basis for a new group or association, then the association ought to be avoided. Additionally, one should immediately report this to the competent Church authority.

 

  1. Cualquier forma de mala conducta sexual como base.

Este signo de alarma es de por sí casi definitivo. Las enseñanzas de la Iglesia son claras ante la moral sexual. Si la inmoralidad sexual es la base de un nuevo grupo o asociación, entonces la asociación debería ser evitada. Adicionalmente, uno debería inmediatamente poner esto en conocimiento de la autoridad eclesiástica competente.

                                                                   &&&&&

 

Five Additional Warning Signs from the International Cultic Studies Association

In addition to the fifteen warning signs presented by Fr. Morrisey, Dr. Michael Langone has assembled a list of thirteen criteria by which many cult experts judge a group to be a cult. Dr. Langone is a counseling psychologist and the Executive Director of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). He has spent nearly 30 years researching and writing about cults, and for 20 years has been the editor of the Cultic Studies Journal. The following five criteria have been adapted from Dr. Langone’s thirteen criteria and applied to the context of Catholic associations. Some canon lawyers find them useful when evaluating the legitimacy of a new association within the Church.

 

Cinco Alertas adicionales de la Asociación Internacional para el Estudio de las Sectas (ICSA)

En adición a los quince signos de alarma presentados por Fr. Morrisey, el Dr. Michael Langone ha aportado una lista de trece criterios mediante los cuales los expertos en sectas evalúan un grupo como tal. El Dr. Langone es terapeuta psicólogo y el Director Ejecutivo de la Asociación Internacional de Estudio de las Sectas (ICSA). Ha pasado cerca de 30 años investigando y escribiendo sobre sectas y durante 20 años ha sido el editor de la Revista de Estudios de Sectas. Los siguientes cinco criterios han sido adaptados a partir de los trece criterios del Dr. Langone y adaptados al contexto de las asociaciones católicas. Algunos abogados canónicos los encuentran muy útlies cuando evalúan la legitimidad de una nueva asociación dentro de la Iglesia.

 

  1. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

Of course every new association, if it wishes to grow, will seek to increase its membership. Such growth, however, should come because potential members identify with the mission or apostolate of the association. Additionally, members should only join after a reasonable period of discernment. Thus, any association whose main focus is to bring in new members, to the exclusion of other acts of apostolate or ministry, should be carefully examined.

 

  1. El grupo se obsesiona con la incorporación de nuevos miembros.

Por supuesto cada nueva asociación, si quiere crecer, buscará incrementar el número de miembros. Dicho crecimiento, sin embargo, debería ir unido al hecho de que haya miembros potenciales que se identifiquen con la misión o el apostolado de la asociación. Además los miembros deberían solo incorporarse tras un período razonable de discernimiento. Por tanto, cualquier asociación cuyo objetivo principal sea incorporar nuevos miembros, excluyendo otros actos de apostolado o ministerio, deberían ser cuidadosamente examinados.

  1. The group is preoccupied with making money.

Like the previous criterion, there is nothing wrong per se with raising money for one’s association or apostolate. After all, even Christ and the Apostles used money. Nevertheless, money should be a means of carrying out legitimate ministry and apostolic work. Raising money should never be an end in itself. Additionally, the means employed in raising money should be honest and transparent.

 

  1. El grupo está obsesionado con hacer dinero.

Tal como el criterio anterior, recaudar dinero para una asociación o apostolado no es malo per se. Después de todo, incluso Cristo y los apóstoles utilizaban dinero. Sin embargo, el dinero o la financiación debería ser un medio legítimo para ejercer el ministerio y el trabajo apostólico. Recaudar dinero nunca debería ser un fin en sí mismo. Además los medios empleados para recaudar la financiación deberían ser honestos y transparentes.

  1. Elitism

The Catholic Church recognizes that by virtue of their baptism, a certain equality exists among Christ’s faithful, regardless of whether one belongs to the lay, religious, or clerical state. Additionally, among religious orders and newer forms of consecrated life, the Church recognizes different types of charisms. Some are active, in that they tend heavily toward active ministry and apostolic work. Others are contemplative, in that they tend more toward prayer and contemplation. Of course, you find everything in between. Therefore, any Church association that only recognizes vocations to its association is not thinking with the mind of the Church. Nor are those associations with a polarized mentality that divide their vocations from those of the rest of the Church.

 

  1. Elitismo

La Iglesia Católica reconoce que por virtud del Bautismo existe cierta igualdad entre los fieles de Cristo, con independencia de si alguien es laico, religioso o pertenece al estado clerical. Entre las órdenes religiosas y las más nuevas formas de vida consagrada, la Iglesia reconoce distintos tipos de carismas. Algunos son activos, tienden fuertemente al trabajo de apostolado y al ministerio activos. Otros son contemplativos, tienden más hacia la oración y la contemplación. Por supuesto, hay infinidad de grados intermedios entre ambos. Por tanto, cualquier asociación de la Iglesia que solo reconozca vocaciones a su asociación no está pensando en comunión con la Iglesia, tampoco aquellas asociaciones con una mentalidad polarizada que separan sus vocaciones de las del resto de la Iglesia.

 

  1. The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members to control them.

One’s vocation within the Church should be freely chosen. Similarly, obedience is something a superior should inspire among those under his or her charge. While it sometimes happens that a superior must impose his or her will upon a particular member, obedience should never be coerced through illicit or improper means. Additionally, if a superior must constantly impose his will upon the majority of the membership through coercive means, then this proves problematical to the long-term health of the specific association or religious group.

 

  1. El líder(azgo) induce sentimientos de culpa en los miembros para controlarlos.

La vocación de uno dentro de la Iglesia debería ser libremente elegida. Igualmente, la obediencia es algo que un superior debería inspirar entre aquellos que se encuentran a su cargo. A veces sucede que un superior debe imponer su voluntad sobre un miembro en particular, pero la obediencia nunca debería ser coercitiva empleando medios ilícitos e impropios. Además, si un superior debe estar continuamente imponiendo su voluntad sobre la mayoría de los miembros empleando medios coercitivos, entonces esto será un problema a largo plazo para la salud de esa asociación específica o grupo religioso.

  1. The group completely severs its members from the outside world

Granted, one must be careful here. After all, the Church has a long and honored tradition of cloistered and contemplative orders that sever themselves from the day-to-day activities of the outside world. Nevertheless, even those orders of the most strict observance encourage some forms of outside communication with friends, family and the world. Therefore, it is cause for concern when an association, particularly if the association is lay-based, encourages its members to completely sever ties with friends, family, and the outside world. Additionally, one should beware those associations that encourage or require their members to live and/or socialize only with other members of the same group or association. One should also beware if association or friendships with people outside of the group are encouraged only when they are used to further the goals of the group.

 

  1. El grupo hace romper completamente la relación de sus miembros con el mundo exterior.

Garantizado, uno debe tener mucho cuidado con esto. Después de todo, la Iglesia tiene una larga y honorable tradición de órdenes contemplativas y de clausura que hacen a sus miembros vivir las actividades del día a día en aislamiento respecto del mundo exterior. Sin embargo, incluso esas órdenes que pertenecen a la más estricta observancia animan a mantener ciertos tipos de comunicación con amigos, familiares y el mundo. Por tanto, es causa de preocupación cuando una asociación, particularmente cuando está formada por laicos, anima a sus miembros a romper completamente sus vínculos con amigos, familiares y el mundo exterior. En suma, uno debería estar atento a aquellas asociaciones que animan o exigen a sus miembros a vivir o relacionarse socialmente solo con otros miembros de la misma asociación o grupo. Incluso debería estar atento cuando se anima a los miembros a asociarse o relacionarse con amistades de fuera del grupo solo para cumplir objetivos del grupo.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Each new association within the Church has its own unique charism. Nevertheless, the goal of every new association should be to fulfill a particular need within the Church. An association becomes dangerous if allowed to place its own interests, or those of its founder and/or leader, before the common good of the Church — both local and universal.

If more than a couple of the above warning signs are found to be present while assessing a particular association, then Catholics ought to be wary about becoming involved with the group in question. Such an association is likely to encounter several difficulties with legitimate Church authorities and possibly even degenerate into a cult — a destructive group that does psychological harm and poses a spiritual danger to its members.

 

Pensamientos finales

Cada nueva asociación dentro de la Iglesia tiene su propio carisma único. Sin embargo el objetivo de cada nueva asociación debería ser llenar una necesidad particular de la Iglesia. Una asociación se convierte en peligrosa cuando se asienta sobre sus propios intereses, sobre los de su líder y/o fundador, anteponiéndolos a la primordial comunión con la Iglesia, tanto local como universal.

Si más de un par de los signos de alarma anteriores se encuentran presentes en una asociación particular al ser evaluada, entonces los católicos deberían ser muy cautelosos a la hora de participar en ese grupo en concreto. Tal tipo de asociación probablemente encontrará serias dificultades con las autoridades legítimas de la Iglesia y posiblemente degenere en una secta, un grupo destructivo que provoca daños psicológicos y supone un peligro espiritual para sus miembros.

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© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange (www.catholicexchange.com).  Reprinted with permission.  This article is based on a conference presentation to ICSA/AFF in Atlanta, Georgia, October 15-16, 2004.

Pete Vere is a doctoral student with the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University. He recently co-authored Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (Servant Books) with Michael Trueman and More Catholic Than the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor) with Patrick Madrid. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Ottawa, Canada.

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