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  #1  
Old Jan 6, '08, 11:57 am
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monicatholic monicatholic is offline
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Default 12-Step Catholics, please help

Can a faithful Catholic act as a sponsor* to someone in a 12 step program who lives an objectively sinful lifestyle (cohabitation, active homosexual, etc.)???


*sponsorship is practiced with intention of helping them achieve sobriety or any other addiction release.
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  #2  
Old Jan 6, '08, 12:13 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by monicatholic View Post
Can a faithful Catholic act as a sponsor* to someone in a 12 step program who lives an objectively sinful lifestyle (cohabitation, active homosexual, etc.)???


*sponsorship is practiced with intention of helping them achieve sobriety or any other addiction release.
Prudence might counsel avoiding such situations.
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  #3  
Old Jan 6, '08, 1:40 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Eric,

Can you expound on this? Can you share some personal experience?

Here are the tensions as I've experienced them:
sponsorship is good. especially concerning an individual who has hit bottom, it's akin to giving first aid. first aid is almost always given without judgment.
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  #4  
Old Jan 6, '08, 1:52 pm
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SpiritMeadow SpiritMeadow is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Nuns run food pantries and offer counseling services. They don't as far as I know ask those that come whether they are living by appropriate Catholic standards. I'm not sure Jesus asked anyone how faithful they were before ministering to them and I doubt we should either.
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  #5  
Old Jan 6, '08, 2:15 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

(the above post was sent incomplete)

sponsorship of an individual through 12 steps requires many conversations focusing on discerning and doing God's will. Is it acceptable to confine those conversations to matters directly affecting sobriety, at least for a while? or does silence equal consent?

sponsorship can be viewed as visitng the sick, or, even more, visiting the prisoner. when does that corporal work give way to the spiritual work of instructing the ignorant, and correcting the sinner?

is it fair to sponsor someone in a 12 step program with the undosclosed intent that someday, if they stay sober long enough, you'll open conversations about their sinful lifestyle? is it more honest to begin the relationship with this disclosure "I'll help you work the 12 steps but it should in no way imply my approval of your sinful lifestyle"?

or does one just shut up and try and administer the first aid of AA, driving them to meetings, talking to them on the phone, working with them through the 12 steps?

my personal experience was this: my conversion was years of sobriety process during which nobody in AA outwardly judged my sinful behavior. (granted, many of them didn't see it as particularly problematic.) God in His Mercy, allowed me to stay alive long enough, and to suffer the bondage of my sinfulness long enough for a conversion to happen. when i was broken enough, His Holy Spirit convicted me.

is it presumption to conduct myself similarly (withholding judgment), helping wherever i can, waiting for God's Holy Spirit to convict and heal the sponsee?

mine isn't a question of hypothetical situations. instead, i've begun sponsoring a profoundly disordered indivdual. she has been struggling with sobriety for many years and has failed. she's recently hit an all-time new low for her. as a result, she's become very willing to work for sobriety and has opened up about astonishing childhood abuse. (i've known her for a long time. this communicative, vulnerable behavior is very new for her and i believee every word of it.)

i've prayed a lot about her. i get the strong sense that God wants me to love her. how to do that in a way most pleasing to God-- i'm confused.
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  #6  
Old Jan 6, '08, 2:24 pm
Leopard Leopard is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

A definition of terms may be in order here. At first, I thought the OP was talking about being a baptismal or RCIA sponsor for someone in a 12-step program, but now it seems perhaps she means something else by sponsorship.
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  #7  
Old Jan 6, '08, 2:36 pm
Other Eric Other Eric is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by monicatholic View Post
Eric,

Can you expound on this? Can you share some personal experience?

Here are the tensions as I've experienced them:
sponsorship is good. especially concerning an individual who has hit bottom, it's akin to giving first aid. first aid is almost always given without judgment.
If you are going to love this individual, then you cannot help but acknowledge the destructive influence both her struggle with sobriety and her disordered indiscretions have upon her relationship with God. Silence on either issue would constitute passive participation. You would, in effect, be enabling the behavior.

Sexual issues are often thorny with much psychological trauma that needs to be resolved. Same-sex attractions are even more extreme. Such ought to be handled by trained professionals. Your confusion over how to handle this speaks to its complexity and I suggest again you may be out of your depth. Allowing the possibility that your attempted help may do more damage than good, it is probably best to leave the sponsorship of this candidate to someone better quipped to handle the serious issues this individual must deal with.
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  #8  
Old Jan 6, '08, 2:43 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Nuns run food pantries and offer counseling services. They don't as far as I know ask those that come whether they are living by appropriate Catholic standards. I'm not sure Jesus asked anyone how faithful they were before ministering to them and I doubt we should either.
SpiritMeadow,
Please don't mistake these following points of internal conflict as outward combativeness:

There are sisters here in our town who run a counseling service and they have as clients several of the people i know in AA. the nuns are so nonjudgmental (?) that there are a few clients who believe their adulteries and cohabitations are acceptable moral practice-- because the sisters remain quiet about the objective sinfulness of the behaviors and only focus on whether the behaviors are conducive to sobriety (or some other such subjective tests.)

i really hear your words about feeding the poor without reserve. but there's a simplicity of the mission of feeding the poor. the sponsorship relationship is more complex-- it entails conversation about character defects, (though the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions does, in fact, refer to them in the context of the seven deadly sins), confession of wrongs (again, the BIG BOOK assumes the religious person will disclose these sins to a priest, minister, or rabbi according to the prescriptions of his religious tradition), making ammends, discernment, and obediance to God's will.

can you see how this creates a conflict to the potential Catholic sponsor?

on the other hand, there's an evangelical church nearby that has a sobriety group. to be allowed in the group you have to profess an experience of having been born again, or express an openness to someday have such an experience. how is a messed-up, disordered drunk supposed to make a determination like that? how can the evangelical justify only helping other evangelicals toward sobriety?

and 'round and 'round it goes.
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Old Jan 6, '08, 3:00 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
If you are going to love this individual, then you cannot help but acknowledge the destructive influence both her struggle with sobriety and her disordered indiscretions have upon her relationship with God. Silence on either issue would constitute passive participation. You would, in effect, be enabling the behavior.
i believe this is very true. is it presumptuous to wait for a right time-- say after some measure of sobriety has been achieved?

Quote:
Same-sex attractions are even more extreme. Such ought to be handled by trained professionals
it's my experiece that the professionals don't view this as a disorder.

as for being out of my depth, you are most correct. in every single sponsorship relationship i've ever had, i've felt i was out of my depth. to me, there's nothing easy, simple, second-nature about this. and yet, someone did it for me. i have some responsibility to active alcoholics reaching out for help.
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  #10  
Old Jan 6, '08, 3:04 pm
cascherman cascherman is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by monicatholic View Post
Can a faithful Catholic act as a sponsor* to someone in a 12 step program who lives an objectively sinful lifestyle (cohabitation, active homosexual, etc.)???


*sponsorship is practiced with intention of helping them achieve sobriety or any other addiction release.
I don't agree that prudence would advise staying away from that situation.

You are counseling the person in an objectively moral program, and whether or not they are "more" of a sinner than you or I does not disqualify them from your help.
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  #11  
Old Jan 6, '08, 3:23 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Leopard,
a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous is someone who's achieved sobriety (usually more than 2 years) who is willing to help another person work the 12 steps with the puropse of achieving sobriety. It is often an intense relationship, given the newly sober individual (life, family, job, thought process, morals, legal status etc.,) is usually a mess.
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  #12  
Old Jan 6, '08, 3:25 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
You are counseling the person in an objectively moral program, and whether or not they are "more" of a sinner than you or I does not disqualify them from your help.
casherman, how would you proceed? what about my concerns of presumption, agenda etc?
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  #13  
Old Jan 6, '08, 6:35 pm
Leopard Leopard is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by monicatholic View Post
Leopard,
a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous is someone who's achieved sobriety (usually more than 2 years) who is willing to help another person work the 12 steps with the puropse of achieving sobriety. It is often an intense relationship, given the newly sober individual (life, family, job, thought process, morals, legal status etc.,) is usually a mess.
Thank you. That helps.
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  #14  
Old Jan 6, '08, 6:51 pm
cascherman cascherman is offline
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by monicatholic View Post
casherman, how would you proceed? what about my concerns of presumption, agenda etc?
First off, I have ZERO experience with the 12 step program.

But, my initial reaction is this; if being a sponsor for this person is not dangerous for your spiritual life and is ultimately moral in its goals (maybe even whether or not they address moral issues as being wrong) I feel it is OK for you to participate.

IMO, The best evangelization for a broken down person is seeing a peer and close friend be a positive moral example. If it were me I would focus on the program almost exclusively without 'dropping the God bomb' at first, while being a rock solid spiritual example.

Throughout this time, I feel like your sponsee will inevitably ask about your life and how you stay positive. I feel that would be a good time to share with him/her that not only is your faith your lifeblood but also it is a way of focusing on your acheivements and feeling like they have a purpose.

I find with any addiction, if it is not out of shear habit, a person is usually trying to fill a lacking feeling that they have for purpose with alcohol or another substance.

That's what I would do I think.
I'll pray for your situation.
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Old Jan 6, '08, 8:30 pm
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Default Re: 12-Step Catholics, please help

cascherman and all,

i do thank you for your concern, advice and prayers. i'm amazed to report this:

after re-reading all your generous posts and praying throughout the day, i called her tonight to invite her to an AA meeting tomorrow. said woman informed me she's been drinking for a couple of days. i said, "OK. if and whenever you want to try this sobriety thing again, you can call me."

later, she called me and said, "I have one question. why didn't you quit me tonight?

I said, "i've been praying about you. God loves you. I have a responsibility to that."

she said, "God hates queers."

i said, "God hates sin. He loves you."

she said, "I want to know your God."

it would be unfair for me to make a regular report, but I ask you for so many continued prayers for both her and for me. please pray that I humbly do God's will. please pray that she is changed, healed, reborn through HIS grace.

tonight i'm just sitting here astonished by God's love and mercy.
Praise be to God.
Praised be HIS Holy Name.
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