Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yes, there can be cults in the Church

by Juan Manuel Escovedo

In his article "Are there cults in the Catholic Church?", published in the January 2003 issue of This Rock Magazine, Jay Dunlap argues that "Church Approved" groups are not and cannot be called "cults". His argument seems to be essentially a self-defense of the group he is part of. I will not deal with the particular groups mentioned in this article but prove that in principle it is possible for a church-approved group to be a cult.

Peter Vere, J.C.L. M.C.L., canon lawyer, previous writer for Envoy Magazine, as well as Catholic Answers' very own "This Rock" magazine wrote an article entitled "Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group" for the International Cultic Studies Association's E-Newsletter in June of 2005, which outlines warning signs to look for in a Church-approved group that is or possibly turning into a cult.

Peter Vere's article is written based on the experience of Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI, a professor of Canon Law at Saint Paul University and a former consultant to the Congregation for Religious. Surely if anyone were an expert on new groups in the Church it would be someone who worked directly for the Congregation for Religious, the Vatican office that oversees all of the Catholic religious orders in the world. Surely Fr. Morrissey has had experience with a wide range of new groups in diverse countries of the world, not just ones that are popular in the English-speaking world. Those who are convinced that Church approved groups cannot be cults, would do themselves some good to read Peter Vere's very objective article.

Mr. Dunlap's arguments do not touch upon how complex and subtle a "Church-approved" cult may really be. Hence, aside from the eloquent article written by Peter Vere which already addresses much of the issue, my refutation article is needed to make some necessary distinctions.

Read the rest here.

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