catholic alcoholics?

I have found the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous to be very beneficial in my recovery from alcohol addiction, My question Is does the catholic church endorse “the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous”? It seems like there take on “a higher Power” is at times almost offensive to me.

My dad is catholic and used to be an alcholic. It had a positive effect on his life , But he began to talk down on catholicism. He kind of sounded like a philosopher after several years in AA.

I dont know, he kind of started questioning traditional faiths. I think he is baptist now, out of social norms. He is smart but not well read on catholic faith.

He ocassionally goes to mass. But does speak more of a higher power, instead of Christ.

But I dont doubt he is a christian.

But he did stop drinking. He even helped several other new members stop drinking.

AA does not embrace any particular faith nor asks for an endorsement from any church or organization.

How is a higher power offensive? AA was not developed just for catholics or even christians hence why this aspect is left so opened ended. Alcoholism does not just effect a single faith or group. As a Catholic my higher power is Christ but should that be the same for a Jew or a Hindu? AA seeks to help those who struggle with alcohol not to impose any specific religous beliefs on those who seek help.

My roomie is an alcoholic, not Catholic, and has been on a bender since Christmas, storming out of Mass when the priest preached on forgiveness which was too much for someone horribly abused in the past. Crunky is drunk now, belligerent, and groan singing to the MP3 player. I have to get up at 4:45 to get to work at 6:00. Please pray for this sad soul and for me. Miracles happen.

what has been offensive is that I have been chastised for bringing up Christ in meetings, that I am “disrespecting” the meeting by bringing my religion into my understanding of a higher power

Some people might be offended if you’re “pushing” your religion during a meeting as that might get in the way of some people finding recovery. You can preface with “for me, the higher power is Jesus” there’s also nothing preventing you from forming your own AA meeting that has a more religious aspect to it. As long as it’s not a true MIXING of AA with Catholicism it should be ok. The Catholic Church as an institution has been quiet about AA. However, I know of more than one priest and even higher that have been involved with AA. As long as you remain firmly rooted in your faith you’re fine where you’re at.

It actually brought me back to Catholicism. In the literature t talks about those who had once belonged to a particular religion many times return to it. It also mentions that those who need to do their 5th step would be wise to do it with a priest.

My alcoholism totally separated me from God and once He was back in my life and I started praying and meditating on a daily basis, the call back to the Catholic faith was strong.

Religion is not discussed in meetings. God is, sure. Not religion. AA is all inclusive. It does not discriminate. Many who come to AA believe in NOTHING and eventually see the difficulty of staying sober by one’s willpower and do come to believe in God (or Higher Power, if you will). Some of the stories I hear are pretty incredible.

For me, my faith has only enhanced my sobriety and although AA is a big part of my life (fellowship, helping new people, sharing my recovery story), so is the Church. By the way, I don’t know if it’s my geographic location, but there are many Catholics in the groups I go to, and practicing ones at that as I see them at Mass, Adoration, etc.

It’s really not for me to judge another’s conception of God. As long as they know they ain’t Him, that’s a beginning. God takes care of the rest, huh? He certainly did in my life.

I place my trust in the Lord and all is well. :slight_smile:

I just wanted to add this for you to take a look at.

That’s just because AA is for EVERYONE including atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. who don’t necessarily call “their” Higher Power God or Christ. That’s why it’s a spiritual and not a religious program. If it was religious it would exclude a lot of people.

You can always say, “My Higher Power, whom I choose to call God…”

You can be Catholic outside meetings. AA helps (so does Al-Anon).


Officially, there is no conflict between AA and the Catholic Church. When the Big Book was being written, draft copies were sent out for review. There was at least one change made to satisfy Catholics - “Heaven on Earth” was changed to “Utopia.” It also plainly states on page 74
Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course, will want to go to the properly appointed authority whose duty it is to receive it.

Bill Wilson spent a lot of time talking with a Jesuit named Fr. Ed Dowling. You can see some Catholic influence in the 12X12.

And a guy named “Fitz”, who I think was #4, was Catholic. He was the one who researched titles and discovered that The Way Out was already used by several books - I think something like 30 - and pushed for the alternate name of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

That being said, in modern days, at least in California, admitting your Higher Power is named Jesus and that He left a guy in Rome with a big hat as His representative will get you a lot of grief. And you will hear more Catholic-bashing at meetings than any other religion. If you talk about the power of crystals, or the goddess, or a lightbulb, or any other lame idea, you’ll be fine.

My dissatisfaction started growing after I heard a most excellent priest speak - he normally teaches at the Pontifical University in Rome - who brought up the point about people who are “spiritual but not religious.” His answer cut right to it: If you’ve created your own conception of a Higher Power, you’ve built yourself an idol.

That being said, I did find AA useful for many, many years. I doubt I could have gotten sober without it, nor is it likely I would have found my way back to the church without it. But AA in the 80’s was a lot different than it is now.

I agree with this. I too returned to the Catholic Church after entering AA. I did my Step 5 with my sponsor and my Priest(seperately).
That for me that power was God.
Well I understood Him to be God that I grew up with in the Catholic Church. So I returned to the church after being away from it for 29 years.

I bought a book from 12-step review org called Father Fred and the twelve steps. It’s a fab book about a priest Father Fred who was an alcoholic who was in AA and he tells of his story of doing the 12-steps. I found it very helpful and enlightening.:slight_smile:

Then find another group this is not proper as everyone may have a different higher power and none should be criticized. Such behavior is not in keeping with the AA movement. Sounds like some people may be putting personality before recovery. Don’t let the actions of a few keep you off track to your own sobriety though and keep going even if with the same group.

Thank you all so much. I took a lot of good stuff from all ur posts, Just last night a friend told me about a meeting called “AFC” (Alcoholics for Christ) Think im gona check it out. God bless you all

No, the OP was violating the principles by making his Higher Power specific to Jesus Christ. You can use the term God because it is more generic, as long as you don’t specifically start discussing religious practices during the meeting. It’s usually stated, “My Higher Power whom I choose to call God.” But not everyone does that, some just say “Higher Power.”

His fellow AAs were right to stop him from speaking about Jesus Christ. Just as I am right when I stop someone who states that he/she is a “recovering Catholic,” or makes any other reference to our Church. There must be no Catholic-bashing, Protestant-promoting, or any other specifically religious program mentioned. AA is for EVERYONE, including people with no faith. The Higher Power can be the group at first, for those without faith. Eventually, they may come to know God in a more personal way but that is not a requirement for membership in AA or Al-Anon. AA and Al-Anon are SPIRITUAL programs, not religious.

Yes it does. Bill W sent a copy of the big book
to differnt religons for thier input, they all came back supporting it. The Catholic Bishop actually made a suggestion which Bill did change in the big book.

Also Bill had a Catholic preist as his spiritual advisor, his name was Fr. Dowling. And Dr. Bob had a Catholic nun named Sister Ignatia, it is said that between the both of then they helped over 10,000 alcoholics. She was the one who started giving out sobriety chips, she also started the first rehabs.

Do a google search “The Catholic contribution to Alcoholics Annonymous.”

AA also brought me back to my church and has made me a better Catholic then ever before. In may home group thier are sevral Catholic Preist, one belong to the church I go to.

Anyhow, God bless you all

jesus g

The extent of this varies depending on where you are, but in general there does seem to be a double standard. No one seems uncomfortable with Pagan nonsense, you see some people squirming a bit at the name of Jesus, and the only thing I’ve heard openly bashed is the Catholic Church.

When that happens, I always speak up and talk about how my emotional wreckage growing up as a Protestant was just as bad as theirs was as a Catholic, that a lot of my earlier difficulties were due to my own distorted perceptions (insanity, remember? It started long before I had my first drink!), and that through working the program I not only returned to my Protestant faith but in the end become a Virgin Mary lovin’, Bishop’s ring kissin’, weekly Mass goin’, loyal to the Pope and crazy happy about it Catholic.

In general, everyone in my area knows I’m Catholic, but I don’t feel the need to talk about it every time I open my mouth.Most of the time it would seem forced to do so.

Nonsense, they were absolutely in the wrong to do that; if I had been there I’d have spoken up quite vigorously in his defense, doubled down on the Jesus talk, and thrown in something about how awesome Eucharistic Adoration is.

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking and not talk about what happened as Step 11 worked in your life? You’re conflating the importance of the group not pushing a specific belief into a requirement that the individual member remain silent about his own experience, strength and hope.

Sounds to me like someone needs to take a deep breath and remember who’s really in control of the meeting.

Thank you, Neophyte.

I was planning to post something about the double standard and denying Jesus but practiced restraint for a change.

There’s a guy named Dick B. who has done a whole lot of research on early AA and written extensively about it. Put a few of his titles on your Christmas list, everyone!

Did you know Dr. Bob used to read from the Bible at meetings? Imagine what would happen if he showed up at a meeting today!

Read alot of DickB stuff x:)

Not as long as the Higher Power is God!:smiley:

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