Catholicism as Alcoholic Control


I’ve been reading books on children of alcoholics, and something I notice is that in these situations certain roles are created in the family, and these roles are maintained to keep focus away from the alcoholic parent’s problem. What does one do when an alcoholic parent seems to see Catholicism as a means of making there appear to be family unity and harmony when in fact the alcoholism and problems with anger make the relations between members very tense?

I ask this because I myself grew up in this situation, and still feel bitter and angry about feeling as if I’m under psychological control. Growing up, we all went to Mass every Sunday, but there was cursing to and from, and drunkenness and anger in recent memory. In my mind, the attractiveness of Catholicism to my parent was, among other things, about the factor of control. My other parent and I no longer are Roman Catholic, and even nowadays, when my one alcoholic parent comes home drunk and deliberately prays in drunken Latin (in nomine Patris…) I feel a great sense of rage against Roman Catholicism, as it appears contrary to the Christianity espoused in Scripture and the early Church. At one time I felt that my parent wanted me to become a priest. My parent didn’t push it heavily, but I felt conflicted and at unease about this, and felt angry inside because of it.

I have Catholic friends who are pious, so I know Catholicism need not be lived this way, but I still struggle with anger against Roman Catholicism, and since I’m living at home now, I was wondering if there is any practical advice how to keep my sanity but also not become anti-Catholic.



Hi Madaglan. I’m a convert coming from the opposite side of the tracks,but I think I can help. My parents did not raise me with any faith. They didn’t know who God was when I asked them, they said, “He’s energy.” Long story short… there were major woundings in our family of origin, and because of it, one of my siblings got very lost in the bottle. She’s hurt me, broken up a marriage, crossed lines no one should ever cross… Enough said. Leaving out the devastating impact the problems had on the rest of family… lets talk about the alcoholic for a minute. Although I’m her younger sibling, I’ve been older than her for I don’t know how long. She calls me drunk in the middle of the night, suicidal. It gets pretty bad. I picked up the Rosaries. I know, I know… You’re already rebelling because it seems so darned Catholic. But listen, Jesus HEALED me. And He healed me though praying and meditating on the Rosaries every day. Deep healing. The kind of real life devastating pain that goes so deep, only God can reach it. Your parents were (am I allowed to say this?) ****-poor Catholics. And I am so sorry for the perpetual trauma they have caused you. My words can’t make years of living with Alcoholism all better, but I get it. I have lived it, albeit differently. Give Mary one chance… one chance to rescue you and show you what you need to see and what you need to know… If you try it, really surrendering yourself to Jesus through Mary, and meditate on Him, and it has no impact on you, then I give you permission to come back and tell me what to do with my advice. Seriously. It’s that powerful. If that’s not an option for you, I have but one other REMEDY. Not a bandaid. I left the first aid kit in my trunk. A real remedy. If you want something tougher,and even more powerful, honest to God, find a Catholic church in your area. Go in and spend one hour sitting, kneeling, talking, ranting, raving, shouting, crying, whatever is in your heart… to Jesus. I don’t know what you believe, but the truth is… He is really there. And an hour a day for one whole week… will change your entire life. I PROMISE you. Now the ball’s in your court. Do you want to stay mad, or really heal? It’s right in front of you. All you have to do is reach out. And by the way, you NEVER have to tell ANYONE you did it. :0) It can be your secret. But bring those angry questions… Why do they…?! And, How am I supposed to …?! He will answer you. For real. Just stay after you ask and wait for His answer. It would be the best decision you’ve EVER made. I guarantee it. God bless you.


This is not really different from other people who grow up under the tyranny of alcoholism. The only difference is that your parents used their religion as the weapon of choice.

It’s safer to be angry at the Church than your very damaged parents. That’s normal too. But your parents might have been any faith, or no faith, and they would have been just as damaged.

There is an organization called Al-Anon, which is for the families of alcoholics. It is a support group and you would find that there are lots of people who have lived the kind of life you have. In fact, there is even a sub-group for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Both of the groups use almost the same 12 steps as AA, slightly adapted, but with different literature to help the members. Please consider going to a meeting as soon as possible, and just listen - and then try another meeting in case the first one is not healthy.


I totally agree w/both of these posters. I grew up in an alcoholic home and became just like the person I despised the most…and became an alcoholic myself. It’s a family disease…the control issue lies purely with the alcoholism. Most likely whatever you have learned from your alcoholic father regarding Catholicism is so twisted and distorted.

It is easier to be angry at the Catholic Church, but in reality you have no idea what the Catholic Church is really about…unless of course you believe your father.


I don’t think your generalization about the Catholic Church is fair or true.

I’m Catholic, my alcoholic father was Lutheran, and both my parents insisted the family go to church; oftentimes both churches the same weekend. The faith identification of the church has nothing to do with it, and your anger really, isn’t about the church, but about your alcoholic parent finding a way to publicly mirror normal family relations.

So it seems to me. Do you perchance have, buried there, the notion that Catholics are more pro-drinking than other faiths? If so, this might be an anti-Irish thing of some sort.


Captain America makes a good point. i'm Catholic and i'm not pro-drinking, or pro-gambling,etc.. A few people in some parishes decide to make their parish known for something like.. I don't know.. Bingo night, or whatever. But that is not what Jesus established His Church to be. He made His Church to be Holy. And I agree that the pews are filled with imperfect people every day. Some of them are even our family members...and US. The sins of the individual is not a good representation of Christ, or the Church that He is transforming and will one day present to the Father as His spotless bride. If you're looking for a perfect example of Catholicism lived out perfectly, it's Jesus and Mary, even though they were born Jewish. I believe that technically, Mary would be considered a convert by any modern standards. :0) And the lives of the Heroic Saints are so inspiring also. But if you remember nothing I've said, I hope you remember this. God replaces all that the devil has stolen - if you are one of His children. If your parents were not and continue not to be parents to you, and that's what you truly desire, God provides. He always does. He is ever faithful. Forgive... release yourself from the chains they have put you in. Please forgive and hand them over to God.


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