Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is St. Cecilia's "Rainbow Ministry" engaging in cultic behavior?

Even within the Catholic Church, charismatic individuals can inspire a cult-following. Religious communities (and a parish is a religious community) can fall victim to the cult phenomenon. In his book "Cults, Sects, and the New Age," Father James LeBar, who has served as a Consultant on Cults for the Archdiocese of New York, notes, " be sure,..cultic behavior is possible at any time in any place. It has also been demonstrated that some legitimate actions of Catholic Church groups can be carried to excess, so that the cult label is applied....Church leaders must be vigilant to make sure that cultic practices do not creep into otherwise legitimate groups." (p. 99).

So the Catholic Church is not necessarily immune from cults.  Fr. LeBar stresses this truth in his book writing, "Are there 'Catholic' cults?  Are there practices in the Catholic Church that can be compared to the cults?  Are there groups operating with church approval that use the same techniques, the same methods of operation that may confuse people?  Unfortunately, each of the above questions can be answered affirmatively, with the possible exception of the first.  In the strictest sense, there are no Catholic cults, because of our system of accountability and responsibility.  Should a person or group go astray, the competent authority, be it local (the pastor), regional (the bishop), or international (the Vatican, or the Holy Father himself), after due investigation, corrects them, or excludes them from the Church."

That there are groups which occasionally spring up within the Catholic Church and which operate using the same techniques that cults employ is a given.  Some recent examples are The Fatima Crusaders (also known as the Tridentine Latin Rite Church - TLRC)  which denied the legitimacy of the last four popes; the Bayside Movement, also known as "Our Lady of the Roses," which was founded by Veronica Leuken; the Apostolic Formation Center which was the brainchild of L. Roy Legere; and the Integrated Humanities Program which was conceived by three Catholic professors at the University of Kansas.

One of the chief characteristics of a group which engages in cultic behavior is that it does not tell the truth about itself.  As Rev. Wm. Kent Burtner explains in his "Outline for a Talk on Cults, Thought Reform and Mind Abuse":

"Most people want us to believe the best about their group.  They are also willing to tell the truth about their: ideology, the meaning of becoming a member, what the goal of the group is, what is expected of new members.  But cult groups are NOT willing to do so.  Cult leaders know that if they do, people might not join, or might leave..."

Bearing this in mind, let's read what Father John Unni of St. Cecilia's Parish in Boston's Back Bay had to say about his parish and the "Rainbow Ministry" which plays such an important role there:

"The Cardinal’s been supportive, he’s been very clear what the Church teaches and what it doesn’t, and he knows I have no other agenda there. That’s not going to please everybody, but that’s the Gospel….My thing is, nobody gets excluded from the door, and nobody gets excluded from the table, and then from there, I’m just assuming we’re all trying to do the best that we can do."

But here we immediately encounter a serious problem.  Joe Sacerdo explains:

"Yes, we know the Cardinal’s been supportive. That’s a big part of the problem. He has been only somewhat clear on what the Church teaches and doesn’t teach by the mixed messages coming out from him and his spokesman. If Fr. Unni has 'no other agenda there,' then why has he sponsored speakers who have worked in favor of gay marriage talking in favor of gay marriage, in direct opposition to what the Catholic Church teaches? Fr. Unni, Cardinal O’Malley, and Terry Donilon, can we get an answer to that question? And 'nobody gets excluded from the table'? Does that mean that regardless of the level of mortal sin anyone might have committed, and an absence of repentance for that sin, they should still receive the Eucharist?  

To which I would add, if Father Unni has no other agenda, why does his "Rainbow Ministry" Blog link to a Blog post entitled "Mychal Judge embraced his homosexuality as a gift of God" (Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan priest and chaplain for the New York Fire Department who lost his life during the World Trade Center attack on 911), in which the author writes, "Some have asked, Why do we need to know that Fr. Mike was gay? First, because Mychal himself brought it up. He felt it important to share this aspect of himself, to put a human face and name upon the despised label of 'homosexual'. Recall how Christ, when asked, 'Who is my neighbor?,' tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, putting a human face on the Samaritans who were despised by the Jews. To truly understand Mychal Judge, to fully appreciate how God worked through him, we must recognize this truth about him. Mychal’s gayness was a major reason for his deep empathy with others, especially outcasts. He was holy in part because he was gay, not despite the fact.

Second, we should know that Fr. Mike was gay because Rome wants to purge many good, gifted gay seminarians. Mychal Judge and many like him would be barred from the priesthood under this regime. Christ had no problem with Mychal’s orientation, but Rome does.

Third, awareness of Fr. Mychal’s gay identity saves lives, and we are a pro-life Church. 1500 gay and lesbian teenagers commit suicide each year in the U.S., succumbing to intense rejection and internalized shame.

Mychal intervened in at least one family whose teenage son came out to his parents. That story had a happy ending, but thousands of gay kids are still rejected, abused, driven to suicide, and thrown out to the streets by their parents.

Public awareness of Mychal's gay identity continues to save lives by providing greater understanding, fulfilling Christ’s command to “go and do likewise” as the Good Samaritan.

Some have asked, Shouldn't sexual orientation be kept private?

Intimacy is a private matter. But identity and prejudice are public matters affecting the mental, social, physical, and spiritual health of millions of families and individuals.

Those who are embarrassed by this serious, mature discussion wrongly associate guilt and shame with homosexual orientation and relationships. They ought to examine where their visceral reactions really come from. They ought to question Rome’s faulty assumptions and, indeed, Rome’s own 'objective disorders' which more often resemble a severely dysfunctional family than the Body of Christ.

For centuries, Catholics were also taught to fear left-handed people as 'servants of the devil,' and the left-handed were burned at the stake along with faggots and heretics. (The word faggot, literally “burning bundle,” derives from these church burnings of gay men).

Now we know that homosexuality is no more 'disordered' or 'sinful' than left-handedness. Medical and scientific research strongly point to sexual orientation as determined at birth; that it’s nature over nurture for most people. Therefore, homosexual orientation, like left-handedness, is a Divinely created, normal variation within natural law. As such, gay people face the same moral challenges as everyone else.

The truly disordered homosexuals, psychiatrists say, are the ego-dystonic ones -- the self-loathing and dis-integrated, those who don't accept themselves. The most strident homophobes often have unresolved fears and wounds of their own which they project onto others. Christ warned of such projection: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but not the beam in your own eye?!”

Homophobic guilt, shame, and fear are pathological reactions; they are not of Christ. Christ spreads healing, not pathology -- holiness, not neurosis. Whatever is psychologically unhealthy can never be spiritually holy. (The very words “holy” and “holiness” derive from healthy, happy, and wholeness).

Mychal Judge rejected pathological shame, and embraced his homosexuality as God's will for him."

Again, one of the chief characteristics of a group which engages in cultic behavior is that it does not tell the truth about itself.  Father John Unni has not told the truth about his agenda.  Nor have other members of the "Rainbow Ministry." 

The competent local authority needs to investigate St. Cecilia's "Rainbow Ministry." 

We read here that: "Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, has noted that, "sects are marked by dissent from the Church’s teachings, promoting heresy and even schism."  Now John Kelly, Chair of the "Rainbow Ministry," has said that he doesn't look to the Vatican for guidance or teaching.  His group has promoted same-sex "marriage," and links to a Blog which describes the homosexual orientation as a "Divinely created, normal variation within natural law" while accusing Rome of "faulty assumptions" and "objective disorders."

It doesn't take a theologian to discern that something is radically wrong with the "Rainbow Ministry."  Only someone whose eyes are open.


Wendy said...

The rainbow ministry is extremely crafy and devilish. They put on the face of fidelity and respectability but behind the scenes undermine Catholic teaching. Fr. Unni claims to have no other agenda but his parish bulletin shows that he promoted individuals who are committed toward advancing "gay marriage." Rome should investigate this bizarre "ministry" in Boston.

NoMoreTithesforBoston said...

What really blows my mind is the Cardinal's naivete. The rainbow ministry links to a blog denouncing Rome as being confused and as being mentally ill and His Eminence doesn't view that as problematic? Or the promotion of same-sex "marriage"? How much evidence is necessary before he orders a thorough investigation into this fringe group? Honestly what more does he need at this point? I no longer trust the hierarchy in Boston. I don't enjoy writing that. It really bothers me. But things are what they are. And they are truly confused here in Boston.

Ellen Wironken said...

One website which addresses cults and sects within the Catholic Church says that, "In the Catholic Church there are liberal cults and conservative cults. They both have one thing in common. They divide people from their bishops, the Pope, the Teachings of Vatican II. They divide bishops against bishops; they divide bishops against the Vatican Teachings; they divide Catholic people against Catholic people.

Examples of liberal cults in the Catholic Church (although they are not really Catholics, which we will prove), are 'Call To Action', 'Charismatics', 'We Are Church', 'Catholic Woman’s Network', 'Woman’s Ordination Conference', and the like."

St. Cecilia's rainbow ministry falls into this category. Just look how the group divides Catholics and draws people away from sound Catholic teaching.

This work is not of God.

Betty said...

If their behavior is not suspect or cultic, why do they delete blog posts and church bulletins? People who are on the up and up don't do such things. They don't worry about "covering their tracks." It is all rather odd if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

The truth about homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

Betty, no one has deleted blog posts or bulletins. You are rather odd if you ask me.

Jonathan said...

Then Joe Sacerdo is a liar. He has asserted otherwise. He has written that Blog posts were deleted. As for bulletins disappearing, I have seen this for myself. Which makes you a liar anon.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious that "Joe Sacerdo" is a disgruntled employee of the Boston Archdiocese. He appears to work in education. Which is why he blogs heavily during the summer and not as much during the rest of the year. We will find out his identity eventually and then it will be time to pay the piper.

Robert said...

Anonymous, you don't know that for a fact. So please avoid making comments about sacerdo when you have no personal knowledge about him or her. Having said that, I will agree that he/she should drop the pen name at this point. If you're not willing to take a stand using your real name, it speaks to character.

Stewart said...

Paul, the "rainbow ministry" blog has removed the link to the "saint mychal judge" blog and replaced it with the Wikipedia entry on Fr. Judge.

The Wikipedia link:

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