Living in the Church vs. Living in a Cult

Waiting for Godot to Leave

Kevin O’Brien

There’s a strange phenomenon that’s been at work within the Church for the past sixty years or so.

A number of groups have sprung up within the Catholic Church that have become more or less full-blown cults. These groups present themselves as Catholic, but they share several of the following characteristics with cults …

* An “us vs. them” mentality
* The attempt to control every aspect of the lives of their members
* Secrecy – not being open about who they are or what their intentions are
* Recruitment of new members is done thorough “love bombing” and false friendships
* Members are isolated – cut off from their families and from society at large
* An emphasis on sex – either sexual purity or sexual license – which becomes almost obsessive
* Members are abused either psychologically, physically or sexually
* The founder is adored, and his sins or flaws are hidden or excused away
* Totalitarian techniques are used: history is rewritten, dissidents are shamed, expelled and stripped of their dignity and humanity, and brainwashing is practiced
* A spirit of sadism and masochism can begin to flourish
* Esotericism – the full truth of the aims of the cult is revealed only to a select few who have become sensitive and keen enough to appreciate the secret, after a long process of initiation; the true aims of the cult are hidden from the public and from new members
*A narrow and bizarre doctrine is taught and sick and perverse discipline is followed

Many Catholic sub-groups like this make a lot of money and cultivate a large following of powerful people.

The response by bishops and the Vatican to the formation of cults withing the Church? Typically they sit on their thumbs, or else praise the cult leaders, until, like the founder of the Legionaries, the founders are demonstrated to be wolves in sheep’s clothing, or worse.


My question is this.

Is there a tendency within the “devout” demographic of the Church toward seeing the divinely constituted Body of Christ itself as being nothing more than a narrow, sick cult?

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