I am Catholic who is in recovery for alcoholism and drug addiction. I am currently involved a Christ-centered 12 step program called Celebrate Recovery which was developed by Saddle Back church in California. It uses basically the same 12 step approach as AA but it has support groups for many different areas of recovery, chemical dependency, co-dependency, sexual addictions, anger, sexual and physical abuse, the list goes on and on. As a Catholic I see a need for a Catholic Recovery program similar to this which puts Christ and the Church as an essential part in the recovery of its members in need. But Celebrate Recovery is a protestant recovery program.
Many in the Church have found recovery in AA and it related programs. But I also see this as problematic for many Catholics which seek help. In AA, NA, al-anon other non-Christian spiritual programs I have seen many active Catholics become more dependent on going to meetings and trashing the Church for never teaching them that God was merciful. I have seen very active Catholics who will go to AA meetings every day of the week and totally quit being involved in parish life at all, things like this I seen hundreds of times.
But I see other problems with AA. I have done alot research on Bill W, the roots of AA and the influence of New Age spirituality in program and its founders. The problem of New Age influence in AA really dates back to its beginnings. Both Bill W and Dr Bob was associated with a spirituality movement which seemed to be a Christ Centered Group as we all know in AA circles called The Oxford Group, Bill pulled away from that group to concentrate on Alcoholics. The Oxford Group went on to be the Moral Re-Armament movement lead by a Dr Frank Buchman. The Catholic Church gave warnings about this group from the beginning, because of its Cult-like evangelism and principles it incorporated. This group became very powerful throughout the world and spread its methods even into politics and non-Christian religions. Its effects spread through many members of mainline churches throughout the world. Bill W incorporated many of the methods used by Bachman into the AA program, he just put a different spin upon them divided them into the 12 steps and begin the movement of AA. Bill W. himself adhered to many New Age and occult spirituality techniques and practices which can be confirmed in biographies about Bill W, even in official AA material. Many things that even Fr Dowling warned Bill about. Of course in the beginning many of the people drawn into AA had Judea-Christian upbringings and it seemed to be a generic form of Christianity. Many will point out the influence Fr Dowling had on the program, but did he have an influence on the program or did Bill W have more of influence on him. Bill W. talked Fr. Dowling to experiment with LSD with him to expand on his spirituality.
My sobriety though 12 stepped based, it is not “AA”, it was suggested I go to AA by the leader of the Celebrate Recovery group I attend, during my early days of drying out. I had resigned my job and had too much time on my hands so during those first days of not drinking and having a place to go which had four to five meetings a day was good, but I saw from the beginning that the old timers were drawing new comers away from their Christian beliefs and claiming to have the “Truth” which didn’t include Christ in any shape or form. It is strange now how I see many of the guys that started back at that time and how they (the very few still in recovery) have become almost clones of their sponsors. I hear over and over AA members claim to have had a spiritual awakening in one breath then curse God and the Church in the next. These are the old timers in the groups in this area. The only reason I attend AA meetings now is to give encouragement to other Christians that attend, but the longer they are in AA many tend to reject the Church and the vast majority quit doing any Church related activities at all. AA had been accused of being a cult forty years ago by those in the medical society, but now it has become acceptable, which I believe is because so many in the psychiatry field have adopted many of the teachings of Carl Jung into their practices and that New Age influence was one of many of the influences which Bill W bought into. I could go on and on. Do your own research for I’m not an expert, but it might surprise you.
I truly believe that the Catholic Church, those of us Catholics that are in Recovery, need to be more aware of influence of the New Age spirituality on all of our culture and AA in particular and need to actively find a way to serve alcoholics and others in need within the Church more, other then to depend on groups like AA or protestant groups like CR
I do not doubt nor challenge those Catholics that have long term sobriety in AA, nor do I judge their sobriety, what I would like to discuss should Catholics develop a Catholic Christ-centered recovery program and how could we do it?