I wasn’t sure what other topic to post this to, so forgive me if it’s misplaced.
I’ve been a member of AA for three years now and a Catholic for a little over two. As I grow more and more in my Catholic faith, I’m starting to have some misgivings about AA. Although I realized that 12-step programs are largely accepted by many Catholics as consistent with Church teaching, I have some major issues that I just can’t seem to get around. I was wondering what other people’s thoughts were.
AA encourages people to seek a God of their understanding. We are to pray to a higher power, but get to choose what higher power to pray to. If people don’t like the idea of a higher power, they are told that a doorknob or a chair is acceptable (I’m not joking), or to use G.O.D. standing for “group of drunks” or “good orderly direction” as a higher power. The Big Book itself (the text for AA) says we accept people on the broad road to make things easy. However, this philosophy seems to say that ANY belief in God is equally valid, which explicitly contradicts the words of our Lord that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that none come to the Father except for Him. Christ also tells us that the way is narrow and the path is hard. As a member of AA, I am supposed to reach out to newcomers and introduce them to AA philosophy, sometimes in the role of a personal “sponsor.” I do not feel comfortable telling people that any God is valid and exhorting them to form their own image of God or to even commit the idolatrous act of praying to an object or putting a group of people above them as a higher power.
Although not explicitly stated, any reference to Christianity or Jesus, even in sharing one’s own experiences is discouraged in meetings because we don’t want to “scare off” newcomers who might be hostile to the idea of religion. How is this compatible with sharing the Gospel?
AA’s sexual ethics are at odds with the Catholic Church. Again, people are encouraged to form their own sexual ethics, with the general idea that anything is OK as long as nobody is hurt.
AA does encourage spiritual reflection, examinations of conscience, and confessing sins, but none of this is done with trained, experienced, Christian individuals - only to other AA members, who’s qualifications and trustworthiness is, in my mind, quite suspect.
I personally can find my own way in AA and sort of ignore all this and go ahead and practice my Catholic religion, but since such a big part of AA is spreading the program to newcomers, I just don’t feel comfortable teaching people what to me seems like outright heresy.
Any thoughts? Input from other Catholic members of AA or those familiar with the program is especially welcome.