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ITEMS

OF CONCERN
And Other Documents From The Mother of God Covenant Community 1995-1997
Including: Cardinal Hickey’s address to MOG (with historical commentary by Judith Tydings), the “Items of Concern” from the initial review of MOG and a letter to the Bishops from Judith Tydings, co-foundress of the Mother of God.

This "Items of Concern" paper escaped the shredding that went on in the MOG Office as the old leaders were leaving. It is the confidential findings of the Assessment Committee established by Cardinal Hickey. The members of this committee were: a psychiatrist, a priest-theologian, a pastor of a parish, and a canon lawyer (a woman religious, Sr. Elizabeth McDonough, who was also the Cardinal's canonical consultant). This paper was given to the MOG Pastoral Board (three Difatos, Edith and two sons, three other loyal lay leaders and the four priests: Francis, Peter, Theo, and Mike Duggan). MOG members never saw this paper until it was found by accident about a year later which was six months after the Cardinal came.

ITEMS OF CONCERN FOR YOUR RESPONSE AT THE MEETINGS ON FER 14 & 15
Please note that this Committee is fully aware that there are many good people committed to MOG and that many good fruits are evident in the lives of these people. It is especially because MOG seeks to provide a religiously based construct and ambience for many good people, that this Committee considers it imperative to assess carefully and thoroughly the possibility of any error or untruth as present or operative within this avowedly religiously based endeavor. The following non-exhaustive list represents what the Ad Hoc M"'O"'G Committee considers the most serious of our many concerns to be referred to Cardinal Hickey about the Mother of God Community. As we prepare to do so. we invite your candid and truthful response. The specific items under any of these concerns have been drawn from the communications and materials gleaned during this process. They are not to be considered taxative.

1.

There seems to be pervasive use of language by \10G in an equivocal manner. That is to say. the connotations \lOG attaches to words are simply different frum the accepted and acceptable denotations for these same words as understood and used by others. These disparities cannot be explained merely by reference to various levels of formal learning or to subtleties of interpretation or to miscommunications. ,.. for example. some words with different meanings in MOG are: pastor: care: pastoral care: mission: outreach: discernment: unity: body: prayer: teaching: anointed: commitment: submission: obedience: accountability: repeut.v.tetc) ...

.,

Recourse to on-going evolution and to the "newness" of :\10G seems to be used to avoid compliance with standard legal. moral. and theological boundaries in the Catholic Church. At the same time. however. ;\lOG has requested legal recognition. seems to affirm exemplary moral practices. and seems to claim an unmediated ability to "illumine" and "bring to life" the "central truths of the faith." ,.. numerous comments indicate that recognition is important for your credibility in and beyond [he Archdiocese. but you also say that you engage in evangelization and outreach both in and beyond the Archdiocese "in your own name": ,.. there is third party "sharing" of private information about members in the buddy/head system without explicit prior knowledge and permission. yet you claim high moral standards. especially for "community marriages" and for the behavior of children: ... yourcomments repeatedly evidence a highly questionable anthropology. spirituality and ecclesiology, while you claim long-term. sound Catholicity in all "teachings:" ... members of the Pastoral Board "talk over" doctrine and teachings to assure soundness: ... Catholic catechetical instruction for children/adults is not adequately identified: ,.. there seems to he little distinction between public and private revelation: ",MOG members arc said to know more about the spiritual life than 99c~ of all believers.

3.

There seem to be both non-recognition and casual dismissal of widespread and unreflective "pastoral care" exercised by the untrained. Conflicts of interest are evident for professional members at levels of organizational structure (coordinators; board; region, etc.) and in degrees of "care" provided (assistance, encouragement, discernment, sharing, etc.) • ... there is no certified training for those who move in and out of "pastoral care" roles; ... members "share their lives" extensively with buddies and heads at various levels of initiation and membership with no prior assurance of confidentiality and no prior specific permission for third party revelation of private/confidential matters: ... those giving "care" deal with both conscience matters and family matters: ... Andre "gives tips" (0 MOG leaders on dealing with problems and sends members who consult him professionally back to their tvlOG buddies or heads: ... leadership roles are awarded on the basis of (unspecified) natural gifts. experience. practical skills and maturity as judged by those .already in leadership: ... the self-formulated and self-summarized Survey corroborates the correctness of all MOG patterns. choices and practices: ... the degree of "care" given is related to the degree of commitment which is not considered contractual but which can be terminated for unspecified dis-obedience: ... in reference to those who "care" for others. members exhibit a pattern of extreme learned dependency in a wide variety of matters that are inappropriate for reasonable persons who are responsible adults and professionals: ... members claim to make their own decisions but cannot name decisions made which have not conformed to the suggestion and/or consultation of a head/buddy: ... several MOG leaders direct multiple corporations related to the community.

4.

There seems to be lack of a sense of moral obligation on the part of :\IOG leaders to admit responsibility for possibly wrongful/harmful actions or omissions in the past exercise of "pastoral care." Recourse to human error ("we made mistakes") or nonknowledge ("we didn't know") is used to avoid direct or indirect responsibility • ... many now in leadership have been in these positions for decades and have chosen and carefully trained others for their "pastoral care" roles: ... problems referred to the long-term leaders (verbally and in writing) by members over the years have not been fully acknowledged or appropriately addressed: ... dating has been considered as a shorterrn pre-requisite to "community marriage" ... dating has been controlled by selection/approbation through third and fourth parties in the buddy/head system with the involvement. knowledge. and consent of leaders: ... members have been "paired" with others in dating/marriage without full and adequate knowledge of one another as intended spouses: ... members in head/buddy positions have acted in obedience (0 heads/leaders without training or awareness about the rightness or wrongness of what they were told: ... non-conformity (0 or disagreement with MOG practices or teachings has resulted in
shunning or avoidance of those who question or act otherwise:

... according to Joe. people who leave MOG "slip back" into Mass. into the Rosary. into saying the Office, and do nor maintain their relationship with Jesus.

5.

There seems to be a significant dichotomy in MOG between charismatic/pentecostal theory and actual practice, especially re: control of leadership and of information . ... members are convinced they are blessed, chosen and called by God, and are "baptized in the Spirit" and fulfill an unusually lengthy preparation prior to commitment, but =they were not made aware of the Statute contents before this assessment began. --they do not enjoy. equal access to ~omm.unity information, /'1 --they are not considered capable ot electing new leaders, . ( =they were not fully informed about the conditional recognition inn~;~3~/ IJ =they were not told the truth about the sexual misconduct matter i.~

6.

The ecclesiology embodied in \-IOG worship, as well as the theology, anthropology. and spirituality contained in \IOG teachings seem only marginally Roman Catholic. The role of \Iary, the -"lot her of God, ill \IOG. is recent. minimal, and apologetic . ... MOG claims significant parish involvement by numerical participation in liturgical roles but members prepare for and receive sacraments outside the parish: ... sacraments in the parish are done with "Community priests" unless that is impossible: ... key liturgical feasts arc celebrated isolated from the parish for the sake of a minute number of non-Catholics: ... concern was expressed that reading the Magnificat might offend non-Catholics: ... Catholic and/or Marian symbols are notably absent in/on your buildings. stationary: ... order is considered a most significant part of individual. family and community life: ... anger is considered a primary "sin pattern" and is referenced as "sin" in the covenant: ... angry children are "influenced by a network" without reference to cause/circumstance: ... organized apostolic endeavors by MOG in areas of preaching. teaching and spirituality are considered as not subject to the jurisdiction/vigilance of [he diocesan bishop: ... MOG seeks recognition from Catholic authorities and has listing in the OeD but considers its outreach on college campuses is "ecumenical" and. therefore. supposedly. not subject to Church authorities.

7.

There seems to be a pattern of evasiveness regarding finances coupled with an apparent lack of recognition by MOG leaders for the import of their actions and for the seriousness of our concerns in this area . ... financial data given to the Archdiocese over the years has provided no significant information according to the Archdiocesan Finance Officer: ... financial data given to the Archdiocese since the beginning of this assessment has provided no significant information according to the Finance Officer: ... MOG members have not been provided with appropriate financial reports . ... MOG leaders have "pastoral care" over. and require "obedience" from. members who are bound by the covenant to donate to MOG: ... there are no articulated financial obligations from MOG to its members: ... MOG leaders have double salaries & retirement plans in MOG corporations . .. .MOG leaders have significant ownership in or significant direction of several corporations which employ and/or service the community or MOG members.

8.

There is evidence of obfuscation and evasiveness by MOG leaders in dealing with the Archdiocese, with their own members and with this Committee . . .. the Archdiocese was not told about Unio Crucis which existed when formal recognition of MOG was requested in October 1990 and temporarily granted in January 1993: '" in SEPT 93. when Unio Crucis requested inclusion in the Official Catholic Directory, it listed specific members. but in NOY 94 this Committee was told it had no members: ... in OCT 94 MOG leaders said Unio Crucis did not have formal statutes. but a 1986 document composed by Joe (40+ pages long and including a covenant agreernenn was already in the possession of this Committee before OCT 94: ... the sexual misconduct incidents were not properly reponed to the Archdiocese in accord with Archdiocesan policy. but MOG members were told they were properly handled by [he leaders: ... while possessing temporary recognition as a private association of the faithful. and while publicly presenting itself as such. MOG leaders judged they were "not bound" by Archdiocesan guidelines regarding the sexual misconduct matter: ... MOG leaders told Bishop Corrada the sexual misconduct matter was properly reported: ... members had not seen the Statutes which were submitted when MOG requested recognition and still had not seen them at the time of the survey: ... when MOG was granted (temporary) recognition. membership categories were not the same as those in the Statutes but the Archdiocese was not informed of this: ... MOG leaders say there is no "reparenting" but Joe himself used the term on December 12 and numerous parents and children relate a pattern of systematic. erosion of pare nta I authority in relation to children by MOG leaders and those assigned to the "care" of children at various age levels: ... MOG members have been told that leaders keep the diocese well-informed on all community matters and problems.

9.

MOG leaders repeatedly locate substantive and procedural problems in persons. practices. and realities external to MOG as a whole and to themselves in particular. '" former members who verbalize difficulties with MOG are labeled as from families with "problems" or are judged as "propagandizing": ... activities of members and former members since the assessment began arc unriburcd to "ami-cult activities [which] have released energy vulnerable to demonic manipulation": ... direct expressions of "re-parenring" are supposedly motivated by someone "who has convinced them" of th is. ... negative experiences related about MOG either "never took place or even remotely took place": ... the interview process has been unfair because of the judicial style the interviewer: ... leaders of MOG have been unjustly subject to character assassination: ... criticism of MOG is motivated by forces of evil: ... erroneous comments by MOG leaders have not been stated by them as such but haw been "misunderstood" by those who claim to have heard them as such.

I

10.

MOG leaders have attempted to impose a double standard in the assessment process regarding the sources and validity of information/data gathered and judged by them versus sources and validity of information/data gathered and judged by anyone else . ... this assessment should rely on evidence of long-term "fruits" affirmed by members; ... past negative experiences are not to be admitted or considered reliable, but past positive experiences are significant. if not determinative, for approbation; ... data not certified by MOG and persons not recognized by MOG cannot be used: ... this assessment should concentrate on how MOG has evolved and changed. but past relationships with the Archdiocese argue for present recognition: ... significant information has been gleaned by MOG outside of the June 25th survey. but the survey is tile ultimate norm for validity/reliability of the entire assessment: ... negative information about MOG has no substantive content or sound basis it is an evil attack on God's sovereign work: it is a matter of miscommunication: it is an isolated. out of context minconception: it is denial of good at/through/in MOG: ... MOG is both "better than" and "not like" other Catholic charismatic covenant communities. while it relies on a former Steubenville member to discredit the Cult Awareness Network and uses the head of the Baltimore community to assure MOG members that all is well in Baltimore despite recent Church intervention: ... if recognition of MOG is not given. rather than address what might be amiss. Edie will "dog" the Cardinal.

THE FOLLOWING A.

QUESTIONS ARE SPECIFICALLY

AND ONLY FOR THE PRIESTS:

As a presbyter who belongs to MOG. do you function in preaching. teaching. "pastoral care." spiritual direction. counseling. and sacramental ministry your own name? ... in the name of MOG? .. in the name of the Archdiocese of Washington? .. in the name of your diocese or Order of incardination? .. or in the name of the Church'.' As a presbyter who belongs to MOG. are you bound by Archdiocesan policies'!

B. C.

Have you at any time .in your association with MOG observed on your own or had referred to you by others any matters of moral wrong or theological error within or connected to MOG? If so. what specifically have you done to address or correct the wrong or the error? If you have not acted to correct moral wrong or theological error recognized by you or made known 'to you. why have you not done so"! Have you used sound and completely Catholic theology. anthropology and spirituality in the sacrament of penance or have you used theology. anthropology and spirituality from MOG "teachings"? Do you scrupulously maintained confidentiality in all internal non-sacramental forum matters re: MOG members as well as absolute inviolability of the seal of confession? Since you are nor incardinated here and hold no diocesan office. why should this Archdiocese gram you faculties and permit you to remain and to function here?

D.

E.

F.

Finally, the Committee would like the Pastoral Board to comment on the following excerpt in relation to the Mother of God Community. The material below is quoted from the book entitled Funher ALong the Road Less TraveLed: The Unending Journey Toward SpirituaL Growth, by M. Scott Peck, M.D., Simon and Schuster, NY, 1993, pp. 2 1lff.

Ten Characteristics of a Cult
I.

idolatry of a single charismatic leader.
A

revered inner circle ... all large cults have an inner circle of members who are revered by others almost as much as the leader. They are held in awe: they are feared: they are envied: they are gossiped about... The question is the degree of reverence or awe and hence the potential for the abuse of power.

3.

Secrecy of management ... cult leaders do not maintain even the pretense of accountability for their actions. Financial evasiveness . Dependency ... authoritarian leadership nurtures the dependency of the followers. Rather than encouraging their followers to become a group of leaders, cults tend to discourage the capacity of their members to think for themselves. Conformity . SpeciaL language ... The more closely the organization moves toward being a cult. the more special this internal language (natural to any group of people who work closely and intensively together) tends to become ... Such groups have become so imbued with their special language that they have lost the capacity to communicate effectively with the outside world. Dogmatic doctrine ... doctrinaire. Heresv ... The relationship between cults and God is virtually almost but of kilter and heretical. God in captivity ... cults--one way or another--feel they have God all sewn up. They have God captured. If you are trying to evaluate a particular organization. let me point out that to be a cult. a group does not have to satisfy all ten criteria. If it meets three or four. I would be suspicious.

.+.
5.

6.
7.

8. 9.

10.

NloTHER

OF GOD COMMUNITY
GENERAL COMMUNITY RETREAT GAITHERSBURG, MD MARCH 23, 1996

I have asked Jody Bosnick, who is a member of the Statutes Committee, participated in the listening team process and collated the feedback from these listening sessions to summarize the major findings from these sessions. Presentation by Mrs. Jody Bosnick

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Leadership The leadership exerted pressure on members for total loyalty and conformity. To be Vl (J) c 00 .•..... judged as not loyal or nor conforming had consequences such as negative labeling, loss of c c « .- .3 job if working for the Community, or other forms of marginalization. ro .•....• 0 •....•.. c (,/')
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The information heard and received by the Listening Teams came from people who represented married and single people, men and women from every region. It represented experiences of those who have been members of the Community for varied lengths of time, both those who have held headship/leadership positions, and those who have not. They were people who came because they wanted and needed to be heard, because they knew that they and many other people need healing in many ways. The concerns have been grouped into a number of categories: Leadership; Pastoral Care; Membership, including Initiation and Regions; Marriage; Family Relationships; Singles (households and dating/marriage preparation); and Teachings and Prayer Meetings. There was an overlap of categories. What I will be saying now, in each of these categories, represents the words and concerns of the many people who have shared their experiences.

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The leadership did riot listen when concerns about practices were brought up. There was a lack of openness or response to concerns. There was no way to work out differences. When feedback was provided or suggestions made it was usually ignored. There was no collegiality in decision-making. Members of the Pastoral Team, which included Region Heads, did not make decisions nor was there ever a decision-making process which included consensus of the Pastoral Team. There was secrecy regarding Community finances and pressure regarding members' finances, the amount oftithing, and pressure to work for low salaries and live the simple life. People were told they should be grateful for the opportunity to work for the Community, for little or no pay, because it was an honor to work there. The structure of the Community corporation was kept a secret.

Interim Committee Address .:. MOC Retreat .:. 03/23/96 .:. page -9-

There was no financial oversight of the Community by anyone other than the two Coordinators. There was widespread judgementalism expressed about nearly everyone in the Community. This occurred frequently and in front of many listeners.

Pastoral Care There was a high degree of control, coercion and manipulation. Young people in households were told they couldn't live in their parents' homes; they could not move back home; they were told their parents did not want them back. There was pressure to take certain jobs or quit jobs. Some people quit good career jobs to take menial jobs in the Community as training for being sent out on missions, but went nowhere. Young people were discouraged from going to college out of this area or were told not to attend graduate school. People were told not to serve outside of the Community even when they felt they were being called by God to do so. Young people in households were not allowed to spend time with their friends in the Community. Young people were told they were no good and that they would never amount to anything. They were told they were headed for trouble. They were never affirmed; rather, always told how they needed to change. People were judged or blamed for their struggles. They were told you are a "problem person," "not producing," "holding the Community back," "holding your husband back." Psychological needs were ignored, including those diagnosed by a professional. Professional counseling and medication were discouraged. Pat answers were given that were not appropriate to the situation. People were told not to grieve over the death of a family member. Rather, they were told to get over it. There were countless occasions of violations of confidentiality; often very personal information was inappropriately shared without consent, with severe consequences. People were pushed to share details of their lives with their Heads, in relationships that were totally one-sided. Some were discouraged from going to the Sacrament of Confession.

Interim Committee

Address .:. MOC Retreat .:. 03/23/96 .:. page -10-

Some were told to disregard the Church's teaching on birth control. There was so much emphasis on the sinful condition of individuals that they were convinced they couldn't trust themselves, couldn't hear from God themselves, and, therefore, had to trust and submit to their Heads, who were "more mature."

Membership Initiation

People were told to change the way they prayed or did examination of conscience. There was pressure to sever relationship with friends outside of MOG. The work of God in people's lives before they came to the Community, including Baptism in the Spirit, was disregarded. One comment described Baptism in the Holy Spirit as "shackled" to years offormation teaching, rather than seen as, or considered, a free gift of God to individuals. It was suggested that if someone couldn't keep up with writing papers perhaps she wasn't called here. Regions Covenant! Associate eligibility requirements were not clear; to the extent they were .described, they were not followed. Different reasons for not qualifying were given to different people. Emphasis was placed on writing papers and going to meetings to qualify. There was a widespread feeling that people were never good enough, never here long enough, could never make the grade. Many people were not allowed to serve because they were not totally loyal, did not conform to the teachings or were otherwise judged not worthy to serve. Some expressed the feeling of being shunned. People felt they were not included because of health reasons. There was a feeling of competition between regions. Some regions were seen as better than others. Associate members found that Covenant members cut off their friendships with them. People were to spend so much time with their own regions or clusters that friendships were lost. There was control over friendships. People were pushed to spend time and share their lives in a growth group or cluster, and then moved to a different groups and had to start all over.

Interim Committee Address .:. MOC Retreat .:. 03123196 .:. page -11-

There was no freedom of choice or personal input on cluster or growth group assignments. Parents of young children were pressured to attend meetings. For example, one woman was told, "If you don't go to these meetings now, when your children grow up you'll have nothing." . Marriage One comment expressed that there was outrageous interference in the marriage. Unity in marriage was often undermined rather than encouraged. Some examples:

Men were to talk with men in their groups, and women with women, in a way that took precedence over good communication between husband and wife or making decisions as a couple. The marriage relationship has not been respected as the primary one, to be treasured and trusted. Husbands were told not to tell their wives everything, and not to trust them with finances. Wives did not feel free to expect honest communication from their husbands; the blame for problems was always put on some wives. On the other hand, while the Community teaching was that the husband is the head of the household, some wives were told to be the spiritual leader in their home because the husband was not doing well ( e.g. not teachable). Some wives were told by their Heads that if they changed (for instance cooked better, dressed differently) then their husbands would change. This was even in cases of serious problems. Couples who did not submit their marriage relationship to this interference knew that they were looked down on for not conforming. Family Relationships Family relationships were strongly discouraged. For example: Parents were talked about, criticized and put down in front of their children. (Children means older teenage and adult children.) Single people in households were to trust their Heads more than their parents (in or outside of the Community). Children in households were told not to tell their parents things. Single people had to get discernment and permission before spending time with their families, which was seen as sentimental.

Interim Committee Address .:. MOC Retreat .:. 03/23/96 .:. page -12-

Adult singles in households always had to take someone with them when they visited their families, both locally and out of State. Parents in the Community were told not to spend much time with their children in single households. Singles - Households There was a lack of personal freedom in decision-making; for example, where and with whom to live. Some household Heads were directed to have high control over members, such as over their activities, friendships, phone calls, and to report back to the next Head up the line on the details of peoples' lives. There has been so much emphasis on relating only to those of the same sex that young people have been unable to learn to relate to members of the opposite sex in a natural way. For some, the age for being allowed to participate in a mixed recreation group keep being moved up -- as far as age 26. People were not allowed to have friends outside the Community, even other Christians. There was concern that to go out from the Community at all was to put oneself in danger of losing the life of God. Some people were told to leave households because they were considered problem people. There was negative talk about household members, tearing them down in front of others. People felt pressured to convince the others that they really were not defensive any more but wanted to give up their own ways and ideas and submit. Dating - Marriage Preparation There were «arranged" marriages. Couples needed permission to date. There was pressure about whom to date and many. The time couples spent with each other was controlled and phone calls limited. Some had very few (as little as one) dates alone before being married. This prevented couples from really getting to know each other. Couples were pressured for decisions, and told to trust their Heads' discernment more than their own feelings. Couples needed permission to become engaged.

Interim

Committee

Address

.:. MOC

Retreat .:. 03/23/96 .:. page - 73-

Although couples needed to discuss their past personal lives with each other in front of their Heads, there were also cases where information was withheld by Heads who knew information about one or the other person. Couples were told to change their honeymoon plans to places in nearby States. Some had to agree to have a married couple join them after the first day or so. Teachings - Prayer Meetings The goal of teachings seemed to be conformity, and understanding of the teachings became a measure of brotherhood. Prayer meetings got to the point that only certain people could share, if it was an approved sharing relating to the teachings, not on God's work in an individual's life. Many people felt they did not have permission to exercise a gift of prophecy or other spiritual gifts. The exercise of these gifts was restrained. Peoples' theological study was discouraged; especially Catholic Theology. Those with a background in theology found that this was considered to be an obstacle to living a spiritual or Christian life or understanding Community teachings. Those who questioned things about teachings were criticized, put down, and marginalized. I will conclude this portion of the talk with a few examples of how people find that their lives have been deeply and negatively effected by the pastoral practices of the Community. One person who was always given the impression that she was doing something wrong (not praying well enough, not standing on the truths, etc.) came to believe that she had failed, that Jesus was angry with her, that God couldn't work in her. She is unable to pray or go to Church. Another person related that her relationship with her family was destroyed. In addition, she has lacked confidence in relating to her son due to so much emphasis on same sex relating, and found that she has difficulty in speaking up in her marriage because she was so used to having to trust her Head and not herself. Experiences have caused "inauthentic relationships," dependency on Heads and confusion in the minds of individuals. It was expressed that: "We have crossed over a line of intimacy, becoming so involved in each other's lives that we have no privacy, and we mistrust and judge one another's motive and actions." People are going to counseling to restore right relationships with their spouses. People feel betrayed. People realize that their dignity as an individual person was not upheld.

James Cardinal Hickey Address to Mother of God Community September 23, 1995

CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT RESERVED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE MOTHER OF GOD COMMUNITY
Dear friends in Christ, Let's begin with a prayer. Heavenly Father, we come before you this day bearing in our hearts a deep love for this community as well as our concerns. We ask you, 0 Lord, to send upon us Your Holy Spirit so that in all we say and do we may follow Your Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth and the life," who speaks to us through the Church. Give us, Lord, hearts that are humble, courageous and open so that we may preserve what is good and change what must be changed and do all this in a spirit of love for you, Our Heavenly Father, for one another and for the entire Church, the Body of Christ. Through the overshadowing of Your Holy Spirit, may we receive Your Word and know Your will, as did Mary, the Mother of God. Give us hearts like that of Mary whom we claim as our Mother and our Patron. We ask this, through Christ Our Lord.

* * * * * * ** ** *
Dear friends, with me today is Bishop Lori. Father George Kirwin, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, and President of Oblate College in Washington was with me earlier but was obliged to depart because of two previously scheduled weddings. Later on I will speak to you more about him and the role I am asking him to assume.

* * * ** * * ** * *
I wanted this opportunity to speak personally with you today as the assessment process draws to a close. I come to 'you this day in love and respect. I come to you this day as your pastor; I come in truth and in love. Let me first affirm my belief that the Mother of God Community is a gift from the Lord. I want to recognize the gifts which the Lord has given you during these past three decades. Through this community, you and so many others have striven to take your faith much more seriously, to grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There has been a sincere attempt to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you strive to lead a truly Christian life, not just on Sundays but every day of the week.
1

On a more personal note, I remember so well your participation in the special celebration at the National Shrine to welcome me as Archbishop of Washington back in 1980. I especially remember the young people and their joy in the Lord. I remember as well my visits with members of the community through the years. I recognize the contributions of the priests of the Community to the Archdiocese and to its many ministries. And so I come among you not as a stranger, but rather as pastor and as friend. It is in a spirit of respect and love, that I will share my concerns -- not in a spirit of blame or retribution. It is in that spirit that I will ask for some changes which I believe will promote the authentically Catholic spirit of this Mother of God Community. If, at times, it seemed that the assessment process focused too much on the negative aspects of the Community, I want to assure you I have not lost sight of the positive aspects nor of the vision and insight that brought the Community into existence. Yet it is my responsibility as your pastor to address forthrightly whatever needs correction and change. In sharing concerns and asking for changes, I recognize that the Mother of God has always had an ecumenical outreach and that some of you belong to other Christian confessions -- Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals. I speak respectfully to those of you who are not of the Catholic faith. And such respect demands that I speak to you clearly even as I speak to all Catholics who are present here about the Catholic roots and identity of this community. I shall ask for full fidelity to the teaching of the Church. Teaching The first duty of every bishop is to be the teacher of his people in the ways of faith. My responsibility is to ensure that all the people entrusted to my care have a genuine understanding of what the Church believes and teaches. As a bishop for nearly three decades, I can attest that this is a challenging calling, and one that I take very seriously. And I take it very seriously in my parishes and in the schools of the Archdiocese.. I take it very seriously in the universities and institutes of higher learning in the Archdiocese. And I take this same responsibility very seriously in your regard as well. I have spent much time studying the teachings of the Mother of God Community. I have listened to tapes and I have read letters; I have studied reports and transcripts; I have spent long hours of prayer and discernment. I do find that there are misunderstandings in the Community about what the Church teaches. There is an urgent need to ensure that community teachings fully reflect the living faith of the Church as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church's doctrinal teaching is not taught and studied fully and systematically within the Community. What is not said is just as important as what is said. Any preaching 2

and instruction that fails to draw its foundation and inspiration from the magisterium of the Church runs the risk of not being of the Holy Spirit. I am particularly concerned that young people, children, adolescents and young adults, lack a solid foundation in the Church teaching. Many older members came to the community well instructed in the basic truths of the faith and were better able to integrate community teachings into their life of faith. But younger people have not had the benefit of a full and systematic instruction in the faith; yet the faith of the Church, in its entirety, is their rightful heritage as baptized Catholics. More specifically, I believe there is a great need to clarify the meaning of 'baptism in the Spirit" as it relates to all the sacraments, but especially in relationship to sacramental baptism and the sacrament of confirmation. Sacramental baptism is recognized by all Christians -- Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant churches as the principal sacrament of initiation and the foundation of the Christian life. "Baptism in the Spirit," a gift characteristic of the charismatic renewal, helps one live out the call to holiness received in baptism; it helps to revivify the divine gifts received in sacramental baptism, in the other sacraments and in the entire tradition of the Church. However, 'baptism in the Spirit" is not essential to the Christian life; those who do not receive 'baptism in the Spirit" are not second-class Christians! There is also need to clarify and strengthen the community's understanding of the centrality of the Eucharist which the Second Vatican Council taught is "the source and summit of the Christian life." [SC,8] Indeed the Eucharist is much more necessary than the Sunday prayer meetings, good as those may be. I know that you go to Sunday Mass; many of you attend Mass on weekdays. But the materials I have read convince me that too many see the prayer meeting as more central, more satisfying, more important than the Eucharist. There is need for a clear and consistent formation to guide your deepening faith to full, active and conscious participation in the Eucharist as the "source "and summit of the Christian life."(SC 8, 14). So also there is need for a better grasp of the crucial role of a frequent reception of the sacrament of penance in the spiritual life. Community teaching needs to re-focus itself and to anchor itself much more firmly in the sacramental life of the Church. There is also need to clarify for the members of this community the authentic Catholic understanding of the essential goodness of creation and the dignity of the human person, a point so central in the Holy Father's teaching and in the long tradition of the Church. The Catholic Church teaches that the human person, though wounded by original sin, retains dignity and worth in the eyes of God. It is true that the human intellect is darkened, that we experience a leaning toward evil; indeed we are incapable of saving ourselves! However, it is erroneous to speak of human nature as "depraved", as lacking in any goodness or worth. In our Catholic tradition, God's grace heals and builds on our human nature as we die and rise in Christ. And even our darkened intellect can know something of God and of his truth. [cf. GS,13] 3

Every effort must be made to achieve a correct understanding of marriage -including the equality of the spouses and the rights and duties of parents in natural law and in the teaching of the Church. There are serious theological and pastoral dangers from delving into literature and practices drawn from fundamentalist groups often deeply hostile to the Catholic Church. I have deep concerns about the Toronto Blessing, from the Vineyard Church, '-7"resting in the Spirit" -- as practiced in the Mother of God Community. I know some of you feel that this practice has been beneficial; nonetheless it has proven to be divisive for this community and is theologically questionable. I now ask you to cease its use as of this day and until such time as I can discuss this matter further with theologians and spiritual directors as well as with Father Peter Hocken. But to be perfectly candid, I do have grave reservations about this practice. The true union among Christians, which as Catholics we all must seek, will happen only by our being true to the faith of our Church. In order to address these problems, I ask that a new systematic catechesis based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church be undertaken for the whole community. The priests have acknowledged deficiencies and omissions in community teaching and have also acknowledged their responsibility in not correcting and guarding against those deficiencies. Because of their awareness of the problems which I have outlined and because of their renewed resolve to strengthen your life of faith, I shall designate the priests, together with other qualified community members, to give teaching that shall cover doctrine, worship, morality and spirituality. I am asking the community to accept, without reservation, the Catechism, a truly anointed teaching, which the Holy Father has given to all of us as the sure norm of belief and instruction. Let me also say a word about the teachings at the Sunday night prayer meetings. I am asking that community members who are well-trained in theology take a much more active role in reviewing such teachings as are prepared ahead of time and in gently but firmly correcting spontaneous teaching that contains errors or statements that may lead to misunderstanding. Any teaching that does not clearly reflect the fullness of the Church's teaching risks not being of the Holy Spirit. In addition, I ask that the Mother of God School take steps to be affiliated with the Archdiocesan School System. This helps to ensure compliance of this school with all that is required of every Catholic school in this Archdiocese. I am asking my Superintendent of Schools, Lawrence Callahan, and Father Charles Parry, my Assistant Secretary for Catholic Education, to visit the Mother of God School and to prepare an evaluation for my review. We will work with you to ensure that the Mother of God School not only meets appropriate standards and follows sound policies but most importantly that it presents authentic Catholic teaching as befits a truly Catholic school.

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Pastoral Practice Teaching and pastoral practice are very closely allied. Again, I speak to you as a pastor, as one who spent almost fifty years in one or another pastoral role, as a parish priest, as seminary rector and as a diocesan bishop for nearly three decades. I can tell you this: to provide good spiritual direction, sound guidance, and compassionate help is a very challenging work. For in engaging in this ministry, we are not simply dealing with externals but with the very mind and heart of those we seek to serve. We are dealing with the conscience, that secret, inmost core of the person, that privileged sanctuary where each of us is alone with God and where His voice echoes in our hearts. [GS,16] This work is more delicate and demanding than that of any surgeon! That is why the Church has always demanded that anyone who offers pastoral care be carefully trained, not only in theology but in the very art of caring for the human soul. The Church always insists that those who engage in pastoral work fully res ect the legitimate autonomy and freedom of those th ~orking with; if as always inSlS e at relationships e ween spouses and between "parents and children be respected and fostered in all cases but especially whenever pastoral care is given and received. It also insists, with greatest clarity, that people receiving pastoral care havea right to privacy and confidentiality. That applies in the strictest way to the confessional, as we know; but it also applies to various forms of spiritual direction, counseling and other efforts to enable people to come to terms with all that impedes them from following Christ. The Church also insists that those in authority exercise their responsibility with love, care and restraint. Some of you have attested that they have benefitted from pastoral care in the community as they understand it. Others have experienced very serious problems; still others have had a mixed reaction to the pastoral care they have received. Yet, as your pastor, I must address the very serious difficulties which many people have shared with me. After careful study, I have come to the conclusion that the very notion of pastoral care needs to be clarified for the community at large. There is need to understand the goals and methods of authentic pastoral care. It. is not a detailed series of directives to be obeyed but rather a healing of the soul centered around the Word of God as it comes to us through the Church and the sacraments of the Church. In the pastoral care of this community, members were led to speak of very personal things in a manner that did not protect their right to privacy and confidentiality and which had the effect of leaving them vulnerable. Great damage has resulted from this. In addition, I am concerned that the authority of those giving pastoral care be clearly understood and properly limited. No private individual can say that he or she presents the absolute will of God for another person in life's personal decisions. Unlike bishops and religious superiors, no lay leader has a right to demand religious obedience from a fellow adult lay Catholic. We can help each other on the journey but we must all walk in freedom!

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5

Because of my deep concerns for you, I require that the pastoral care now being offered by the current community leadership, including region heads, coordinators, and other small groupings for pastoral care and direction be discontinued at once..Df course, small gatherings for prayer can continue; but in these groups it must be understood that all participants are of equal rank; and the practice of ''headship'' must be stopped in all its forms. All current covenant and associate agreements, including any continuing relationships of the Unio Crucis, are to be terminated until the Statutes are completed and approved. I invite the priests of the community to work closely with myself, Father Kirwin and Bishop Lori in providing sound pastoral care for the community. They will work under my authorization and along lines which I shall indicate. I esteem the three priests currently serving you and I know they are very much a part of the life of this community. I want them to remain be with you during this difficult time of renewal. As the future unfolds, I also want to ensure that anyone else who provides pastoral care is well-trained in theology and other necessary skills. The pastoral needs of this community are many. In addition to the need for sound teaching, the community suffers from a lack of charity for one another; from the failure to reach out in reconciliation; from anger, suspicion, slander and fear; from being judgmental of one another and of those who are not members of the community. The words of St. Paul come to mind: "If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community." (Gal. 5:14). All these sinful tendencies need to be healed for they are not of the Holy Spirit. For the immediate future, special efforts must be made to bring about reconciliation within families, some of whom find themselves at odds. There is also need to make available the.services of trained counsellors from outsjde-t;.h,acommunity to offer anyone who wants it the opportunity to share the burdens of their mind and heart without fear or hesitation. ,We need to be especiallY.-£Qnsciolls the-children of and oung eople in the community, some of whom have been seriousl harmedy __ the s stematic nderminin of arent authorit. We need to be attentive to their needs, especially by working hard to strengthen their relationships with their parents. I also re uire, out of love and res ect for one another, that an one who has ersonal. information about other members -- in note 00 , In computer files . ate er form, that you destroy 1, St it 0 ~ e source 0 uture emharrassment or harm. All of you must cease using any personal information about others game rom preVIOUS pastoral practices.

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Leadership

This morning also, I must speak to you not only about teaching and pastoral care, but also about the leadership of the community. I know this is a very delicate and difficult area and I have given it much thought and prayer. First, I want to recognize the dedication of so many who have worked at various levels of leadership within the community. I know of your desire to live the faith in a very intense way and to help others to do the same. Yet in every community made up of human beings -- whether it is a diocese, a parish, a religious community or any other type of community r: there is need for ~o.dic-Ghange-in-le(IcterBhip. It is not good for any community when a relatively small group is always in charge of all aspects of community life -- teaching, pastoral care, policies, funds, etc. Next month, when I am in Rome, upon my 75th birthday, I will submit my own resignation to the Holy Father and simply put myself at his disposition for however long or short a time he wants me to serve as your Archbishop. The Church recognizes the need to rotate leadership at every level. That is why, in 1993, ~~1 w~ke.cLto..give recognition to the Moth..ex:...offiruLCillIDlllulity as an association of the faithful, I directed that steps be taken for an orderly rotation ina change in eaaershi . UnIort1l1TIrtelOfiat directiv:e..w.as..notmade known wIDely ..t9 e communit nor was its oal achieved. The assessment process confirmed my original perception of three years ago that a change of leadership is not only wise but indeed necessary. As one deeply concerned for the welfare of this community, I judge it necessary to ask that some in leadership positions step aside for a period of three months. This includes coordinators and region heads. During this period I will be in conversation with Joe and Edie. I also have serious concerns about the Corporations which I shall address in the coming months. tJW W~

-.

~?

It is above all important that we begin the process of enabling all of you, as a community, to define in a better way the role of leaders; and when the Statutes are completed and approved by me, then you will be enabled to elect your own leaders. However, when elections do take place, I must reiterate what I asked for in 1993 -there must be a change in leadership. In the meantime, I ask the following individuals to provide interim leadership to the Community on a day by day basis for the next six months until the statutes are completed and approved, and new leaders are elected. They include:

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1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

Mr. Robert Roche Mrs. Marjorie MacLeod Mr. Stephen Miletic Mr. Anthony Bosnick and a younger member of the community, possibly someone from the current Region #3. team. I ask that these

I have asked Mr. Roche to chair this interimleadership leaders take up their duties immediately.

The functioning of this temporary leadership will be crucial until permanent leadership is installed. Your interim leaders will work with you and me to ensure that the vision and spirituality of the Mother of God Community be enhanced and forwarded. Your interim leaders will work closely with Father George Kirwin, OMI, of whom I spoke at the beginning of my address. Because of his prior experience, I have asked him to assist the Mother of God Community during this time of transition. Father Kirwin is President of Oblate College in Washington; he is a trained theologian, a former Provincial and a man of proven wisdom and love for the Church. Father's role will be to oversee the implementation of what I am asking of the community. I have also asked your interim leaders to select an advisory board of about ten members to represent various segments of the community. Their role is to listen to all of you, and to meet with the interim leaders on a regular basis to share their concerns in an orderly and charitable manner. In addition, as I have already mentioned the priests will continue to serve the community in a pastoral role, especially as teachers and spiritual directors. I also ask Father Peter Hocken to serve as your interim Chaplain for the next six months; he is to work closely with you and your interim leaders. As Chaplain, he bears special responsibility for the pastoral care of the Community in the months ahead. As I mentioned, already in 1993 I asked that Statutes be drawn up as a prerequisite to the Community's gaining definitive recognition as an association of the faithful. I ask that the Statutes Committee continue to function under the direction of the interim leaders. This committee is to follow the directives which I give today; its members also need to take into account the strengths, problems and recommendations which surfaced in the assessment process. They are charged to '!rite Statutes that describe well the gifts and goals of the communi~; but it is also_ important that the Statutes protect the dignity and rights of members as well as he es onsibilities and limits of those who serve as leaders. I ask Father Theo Rush to continue working WI e Statutes ommi ee.

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The good of your community also demands a careful review of community corporations, the Potomac Charismatic Community, Incorporated and the Word Among Us, Incorporated. For the protection of all, however, I will be asking that the corporations undergo a comprehensive legal audit going back to the very beginning of each organization. I also ask that the corporations have a comprehensive financial audit covering a period of ten years. These audits should be available for all the members to read. Members of the community should be aware of any changes in board membership. They should be aware of the assets of these corporations. There should be no attempt to sell assets, to transfer assets or to dissolve these corporations during the coming months. Policies regarding the operation of these corporations must be clarified with input from the entire community. In general, there is a great need for much more community input regarding these corporations. As members of the community, you need to know much more about the finances of the community and have a say in the disposition of community resources. So also there is need to develop fair and consistent policies on matters such as pay scales and benefits for those employed by the Community. In no way is it my desire to be directly responsible for the corporate affairs of the community nor control its assets. I would be less than responsible, however, if I did not insist that your community, as a non profit organization, follow the same high standards that I have set for the corporations of the Archdiocese. I ask of you nothing that I do not ask of myself and my co-workers.

*****
Conclusion

As I come to the conclusion of these remarks, I want to make the canonical status of this community clear. In 1993, I gave a tentative three year recognition to the Mother of God Community as a private association of the faithful. In January 1996, that three-year period will be over. As of this time, I am NOT withdrawing recognition but I will continue recognition until the end of April 1996, to give your community the opportunity to implement all that I have asked of you today. It is the responsibility of the interim leadership to implement these directives. I will ask the opinion of your interim leaders and rely on the judgment of Father Kirwin in reaching my own judgment about whether or not these directives have been adequately carried out. I must say, in all candor, that if I judge that they have not carried out in adequate fashion, I shall withdraw my recognition. I do not want to take that step; rather, it is my hope that we shall work together to strengthen the community now and in the years ahead.

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J. Tydings's Reflection on the Cardinal Hickey's 9/23/95 Message to Mother of God Please read the "Items of Concern" paper before you read Cardinal Hickey's Statement to Mother of God Community. The "Items of Concern" paper was delivered to the Mother of God Pastoral Board in February, 1995. The Cardinal didn't come and issue his judgment until seven months later. Between February and September, 1995, some of us woke up. None of us, however, had seen the "Items of Concern Paper." I know that Sr. Elizabeth McDonough, a canon lawyer and a member ofthe Cardinal's MOG Assessment Committee, told Cardinal Hickey that the three priests, Fr. Francis Martin, Fr. Peter Hocken, and Fr. Theophane Rush, should be removed from Mother of God and sent home. She also was very aware of the cult-like nature of the community. The Cardinal, as you can see from his statement, not only did not send the priests home, he encouraged them to teach and spiritually direct the members of Mother of God, who were going to be faithful to him in the reconstituted Mother of God. Sr. Elizabeth, however, was "sent into Coventry." One person close to the process told him that Sr. Elizabeth had been fired. It is my understanding that much of the Cardinal's document was written by Bishop William Lori, who had been the Cardinal's personal secretary for years. The Cardinal had arranged to come out to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and meet from 8:00-9:00 a.m. with the Difatos and their friends and he expected them to resign when he asked them to. They refused and said that they had never been told what the charges were against them. The Cardinal and Bishop Lori seemed to have forgotten at that point that the "Items of Concern" paper listing the findings of the Cardinal's Committee had ever been written. Meantime there were about 400 members of Mother of God who had been told to assemble at 9:00 a.m. waiting to hear the Cardinal's judgment on the community. Although Edith Difato' s husband Mike had never joined the community, he was present with his wife and sons at this meeting with the Cardinal. I know from someone who was present at the meeting with the Difatos that the Cardinal was so dismayed and confused by the Difato stance that he thought he might just go home. The Cardinal finally decided to revise his address and an hour and a half late (at 10:30) met with the assembled community. He did not hand out his prepared statement because he had had to change it. The address he gave, as you can see from the copies that were distributed later, reflects the Cardinal's haste and lack of thought about some of the issues which created problems for us as time moved on. 1. Instead of distancing himself from Edith Difato and Joe Difato, he used their nicknames "Edie" and "Joe" when referring to them. To those loyal to the Difatos it implies an intimacy and respect for Joe and Edith which of course was not the case. 2. While he says that he has asked the leaders of Mother of God to step aside for three months, he puts an interim team of leaders in for six months. 3. During the three months he said that he would be in conversation with Joe and Edie but he never got back to the community to tell us whether it had ever happened. It is my understanding that there was never any subsequent conversation with the Difatos. So of course those who continue on loyal to the Difatos--like my daughter--can say that the Cardinal never permanently removed the Difatos and that he was so close with them that he was using their nicknames. 4. He asked the lay leaders all to step aside but he left the priests. Not only did he leave the priests but he directed that they serve the community in a "pastoral role" especially as teachers and spiritual directors. And he chose a priest from inside the community to serve as a chaplain. 5. Some ex-members of Mother of God had communicated with the Cardinal and with Bishop Lori their opinion that no member of Mother of God be asked to serve in any interim leadership position because everyone in Mother of God had been too psychologically damaged by the whole experience and that people should be exhorted to relate socially and pray together, and put statutes and organization on hold. Instead, the Cardinal did appoint a leadership team from the community, the chairman of which had a number of conflicts of interest of which the Cardinal did not know--and the rest of us did not know-at the time of his appointment. So much so that he should have recused himself from any leadership position. January 2, 1997

1 Judith C. Tydings 2924 Green Hill Court Ijamsville, MD 21754 December 12, 1996 His Eminence James Cardinal Hickey The Most Reverend Alvaro Corrada, SJ. The Most Reverend William Lori The Most Reverend Leonard Olivier, S.V.D. Archdiocesan Pastoral Center P. O. Box 29260 Washington, DC 20017-0260 Your Eminence and your Excellencies, It has come to my attention that you and your brother bishops are preparing responses to the lineamenta for the Synod on the Americas. The Baltimore Catholic Review of August 7, 1996 carried a CNS article on the lineamenta, which stated that this preparatory document "identified several problem areas in the life of the Catholic Church in the region." The first problem area listed in the CNS article was: "a weak faith and lack of religious education, which makes Catholics easy prey for cults or religious sects." Often when people hear about sects or cults they think of the Moonies or Waco. They think of cults as something strange and outside their experience. However, for more than ten years, groups involving thousands of Catholics, calling themselves, "covenant communities", have been splitting into factions amidst the charge that the groups became full-blown cults. These groups include: Lamb of God in Baltimore, People of Hope in New Jersey, Bread of Life in Akron, Servants of Christ the King in Steubenville, Mother of God in the Washington, D.C. archdiocese and Word of God in Ann Arbor. Those who describe these covenant communities as cults are often portrayed as "bitter and disgruntled former members." These critics have not met people like Dr. Ray Dreitlein, a psychologist, who lived with the People of Hope Community in New Jersey, for seventeen years, and raised ten children there, and who is able, dispassionately and analytically to describe the process by which he became dependent on a very manipulative small

2 group of leaders. These covenant communities have included priests and professionals in their membership. Dr. Dreitlein talks about part of his brain "going to sleep," when he was with People of Hope. Many describe their experience of leaving these communities after many years, as "waking up." In covenant communities such as the ones listed above, people who are good businessmen never ask where their tithe money goes; Catholic priests, even those who are theologians, don't correct faulty teaching at prayer meetings when they hear it; parents, like myself, don't ask what the leaders are doing with their children. Reflection on the experience all of us have been through in the archdiocese of Washington in these last three years with the Mother of God Community, should hopefully help us and others to see that more religious education is perhaps not the entire answer to the problem of Catholics being drawn to totalistic groups; especially when you consider the number of talented priests who have participated in such groups. I would like to offer my reflections on the Mother of God Community experience in the hope that it will assist you and your brother bishops to respond to the lineamenta's area of concern regarding sects and cults. I feel uniquely qualified to do this, as one who is called one of the two foundresses of the community, and, who was a whistleblower in May 1995. And, as one, among many, who blindly enabled a very abusive, totalistic group to exist within the Church, within the archdiocese of Washington. It is my hope, that you and other bishops in the Americas will consider establishing a study group to search out what really happened in communities like Mother of God. By doing so, the Church in the Americas might be able to identify what truly constitutes cultlike characteristics, whether or not they existed in the covenant communities. In doing so, the Church might learn how to cultproof the faithful in a way that will protect them from cultlike groups both within and without the Church. A related goal would be for the pastors of the Church in the Americas to develop ways to reach out to those who have been abused spiritually, psychologically, pastorally, and sometimes even sexually, in these communities where the presence of Catholic priests and ordained deacons, made people feel secure. Sadly, I am not the only one who knows people who have been betrayed by Catholic lay leaders of covenant communities who took their

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money, their time, the best years of their lives and their children. Sadder still, many of these same people feel betrayed again, by the Church, due to the way they feel the Church dealt with their community, whenever the Church fmally did take a look at the situation. It is with the hope that my reflections will interest you, and perhaps other bishops, to set up a way of studying covenant communities that seem to have been abusive, that I offer the following reflections. I dedicate my efforts to the many victims who have suffered terribly in these communities, when all the time they were trying to live out a committed Catholic life, and to please God, thinking all the while that they were within the secure arms of the Church. II. As you know, groups called "covenant communities" emerged out of a current of grace called the charismatic renewal. Out of the many thousands of prayer groups in the Americas there emerged some communities of mostly lay people, who desired to help each other live out a more committed Christian life. Mother of God Community in the Maryland suburbs was one such community. From the time, in June 1968, when Mother of God prayer meetings began, in Our Lady of Mercy parish, Potomac, until things began to unravel, in recent times, almost thirty years later, members of the Mother of God Community felt they belonged to a Catholic group. The first prayer meeting (the first one held on the East Coast) was organized by the pastor of the parish, Fr. Raymond Cahill, and a Sister of Mercy who was the superior of the local Mercy convent, and myself. When our pastor, Fr. Cahill, after four weekly prayer meetings, made an appointment with Cardinal O'Boyle to tell him about the prayer meetings, and the fact that, with no publicity, attendance was now over a hundred, with many religious and priests coming, Cardinal O'Boyle forbade our pastor to attend any more prayer meetings, and said that prayer meetings would have to move out of parish buildings until he had had a chance to study the matter. Obeying the Cardinal, people moved the prayer meeting away from parish buildings and into private homes where they were visited twice by Fr. Edward O'Connor of Notre Dame University, who told our group of events at Notre Dame and Duquesne, which we had not heard
about.

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Subsequently our group was invited to use the Fathers of Mercy seminary, and when the group outgrew that, we moved to larger facilities, always in a Catholic parish hall or Catholic school. Many priests and religious came to the weekly prayer meetings to pray and some stayed for weeks and months to live with the lay people who were associated with the prayer meeting. Eventually, some priests became permanent members of the community. As you know, these included a canon lawyer, a moral theologian, a systematic theologian and a world-renowned Scripture scholar. All these priests had doctorates. Some other priests were in residence for many years. All these priests prepared young people for marriage, married them and baptized their children, in the parish churches where they did help-outs. As you know, the members of Mother of God Community produced a devotional periodical based on the lectionary, The Word Among Us. Many people, like myself, wrote for it for free, for years and years. At the time things began to unravel and Bishop Lori removed the imprimatur in 1995 (not for content but for other reasons), the magazine's circulation had reached about 250,000 and, monthly, the publication appeared in English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese and Polish editions! Thus this "Catholic" community had a world-wide impact. Although the Mother of God Community had no official approval from the Church for the first quarter century of its existence, and had not asked for any, the very presence of so many gifted priests, who had faculties from the archdiocese, gave the impression to all, that the community was within the mainstream of Catholic Church life. When I, or others, had doubts about some of the teaching at prayer meeting given by lay people, or we questioned some other aspect of life in the community, the presence of the priests in our midst made me and others conclude that somehow the problem was with our perception of things. That was probably true for all of you and for Cardinal Baum as well. In hindsight, the reality is, as we all know now, that as the Mother of God prayer group evolved into a community, power became concentrated in the members of one family and a few of their trusted friends. I was marginalized, as were others. The priests were marginalized, being given very little pastoral responsibility. How did it happen? Why did the priests stay? Why did people like me stay when others left?

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People left good jobs with security to move to Mother of God Community for many reasons, but most say they wouldn't have come had there not been priests present as members of the community. And such talented priests who wrote books, who gave retreats to groups of bishops and who were invited to preach retreats to Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in India and elsewhere! Many people who had problems with the community would not have stayed had the priests left. The presence of the priests in the Mother of God Community legitimized the life of the community which we now know was a life where many people suffered abuse: spiritual, psychological, pastoral, and some, even sexual abuse. You will be familiar with Cardinal Hickey's address to Mother of God Community of September 23,1995, which came almost three years after the community had received commendation and recognition as a private association of the faithful. Few specifics of the kinds of abuse found by the assessment committee His Eminence appointed were to be found in the address. For that reason, I want to mention a few of the findings of a subcommittee of the Mother of God Statutes Committee who initiated a listening process after the Cardinal's visit, and who reported the findings back to the community six months after Cardinal Hickey's address. I am appending the whole report of the Listening Committee to this letter. Here are a few of the findings. • There was secrecy regarding Community finances and pressure regarding members' finances, the amount of tithing ... The structure of the Community corporation was kept secret. Young people in households were told they couldn't live in their parents' homes; they could not move back home; they were told their parents did not want them back. Some were discouraged from going to the Sacrament of Confession.

• •

• There was pressure to sever relationships with friends outside of Mother of God community.

6 • Family relationships were strongly discouraged. For example: Parents were talked about, criticized and put down in front of their children. (Children means older teenage and adult children). • There were "arranged" marriages. The assessment committee that His Eminence put together in 1994 was excellent, with the presence of a canon lawyer, a theologian, a pastor, a psychiatrist, and Bishop Lori. Up until the time of the establishment of that committee, members of Mother of God had nowhere to go to appeal the arbitrary, often harsh, practices in the community. Over many months much venom was directed at Sf. Elizabeth McDonough, the canonical consultant to the Archdiocese of Washington, by the leaders and priests of Mother of God. Sf. Elizabeth was the member of the committee to whom scores of people went to relate their stories of abuse and suffering. Many, many people today speak of Sr. Elizabeth's kindness to them with great gratitude. When I "woke up" in April, 1995 (thanks to a visit from a Capuchin priest who had left Mother of God, Gaithersburg, to go to England five years earlier and who told me about fmancial and pastoral abuse in the community), I spoke sometime later with Sf. Elizabeth. In the presence of Bishop Lori she explained to me that what was going on in the Mother of God Covenant Community was "mind control." I asked her to define what she meant and as I can best remember, she explained that when a person has a particular expertise, like being a businessman, but does not exercise their expertise when they are a member of a community like Mother of God, then there is a way that mind control is going on. My opinion is that whether one calls it mind control or cultlike thinking, Sr. Elizabeth was correct. I believe that whether one calls Mother of God Community a cult or a community that was totalistic in nature, or a high demand, self-contained group, the reality is that the people's minds were trapped inside a system or, as Dr. Dreitlein would put it, part of our brain had gone to sleep. I think that is why there was so much trouble with the assessment process. The leaders simply couldn't deal rationally with the questions and issues presented to them. Those of us who have wakened up out of the Mother of God experience believe the Cardinal's assessment committee did an excellent job.

7 The six page document which contained their findings entitled "Items of Concern For Your Response" at the meetings on February 14 and 15 (1995)" was a confidential document that has only recently come to light and has circulated among members and ex-members of Mother of God Community. Papers were shredded by the old leadership before they left, and this document somehow escaped the shredder! What is germane to this paper is the fact that page six asked Mother of God leadership to comment on an excerpt from a book -- the excerpt was entitled "Ten Characteristics of a Cult" (see attachment). At the end of the list Mother of God leaders were told that to be a cult a group didn't have to satisfy all ten criteria--meeting three or four would cause suspicion. In my opinion and in the opinion of many others there is no question that Mother of God met all ten criteria. I would have wished that the Committee would have picked a book more well accepted by the academic community than the one they used by M. Scott Peck. Nevertheless the shoe fit! I think what is most important here is simply the fact that the Cardinal's Assessment Committee would be even considering that Mother of God Community was a cult. I would now like to reflect on Cardinal Hickey's address to the community on September 23, 1995. It goes without saying that I and many others are grateful for His Eminence's love and concern. But the enormity of the psychological damage escaped few people who had any connection with Mother of God Community--even the priests. It is regrettable that, while the lay leaders were asked to step aside, the three priest leaders were not only allowed to remain with the community, they were directed to function as pastors, teachers, and spiritual directors. This may not have given them the opportunity for recovery from their own psychological damage and it certainly caused immense suffering to people they had participated in abusing. In addition, one of the priests who was asked to continue working on the statutes shunned people whom he felt had betrayed the old leadership. One priest for a time told people that the archdiocesan process was arbitrary. Some people heard one of the priests saying unflattering things about Sr. Elizabeth and Bishop Lori. This certainly did not help people to recover or to back up Cardinal Hickey. Hindsight has shown many of us that it would have been far preferable to appoint a chaplain from outside rather than a community priest. The

8 appointed chaplain had been instrumental in bringing the Toronto Blessing to Mother of God, which received no pastoring and which added to the divisions already existing. The Toronto Blessing continues among those loyal to the old leadership. His Eminence pointed out in his address our real need for "the services of trained counsellors from outside the community" and yet that was never really implemented. Those exiting from Mother of God Community who had money or good medical insurance sought the psychiatric care that some of them needed. My observation of the present state of things a little more than a year after Cardinal Hickey's address to Mother of God Community is that there are three groupings of people. The first group are those who are loyal to the old leadership who continue on with the same way of life that the Cardinal judged as pastorally harmful. The second group are those who belong to the reconstituted Mother of God Community. The third group are those who are very unhappy with various aspects of the way the archdiocese attempted to resolve the situation and for various reasons cannot and do not wish to relate to the new community. One major issue for the third group is that they feel many of the people in the second group have no idea of the depth of the abuse that was perpetrated on people and that they do not want to know. People in the third group see people in the second group as people who want to "move on" without a true acknowledgment of what happened in the past, to the point of thinking that what His Eminence said last year was extreme and unfounded. People in the second group see those in the third group as people who want to "wallow in the past." Many in the third group believe that it was unconscionable that the interim leadership appointed by the Cardinal did not speak to the whole community about the conditions under which the buildings were transferred. Many would not have agreed that the financial books be sealed, that the old leaders be indemnified from law suits to the fullest extent of Maryland law or that the new community would make monthly payments on an insurance policy to cover legal expenses should the old leaders be sued--a policy that excluded one of the arranged marriages by name, as a possible legal liability. This concludes my reflections on the Mother of God Community experience. I hope that you will find it helpful.

9

III. I have been networking with ex-members of other covenant communities. I have been told that the bishop who intervened in the Steubenville community called in priests and others who were known to have experience with cults. I believe that the bishop also invited Dr. Margaret Singer, much maligned, but America's leading authority on cults, to Ohio. I believe that there is confusion surrounding the wisdom of this approach of Bishop Albert Ottenweiller because many people are still in denial, and many fmd it embarrassing to themselves and their careers to even entertain the idea that they have been a member of a totalistic group or cult. There is also the dynamic that when people like, say, John Flaherty, the musician who led the music at so many gatherings and Steubenville priests' conferences, wake up, they are initially very angry at having been betrayed and manipulated--and most of all, at finding out that the most Catholic of the covenant communities had been less than forthcoming with the local ordinary. The resulting explosion during Bishop Ottenweiller's examination of the Community of the Servants of Christ the King was caused, not by the presence of priests and others knowledgeable about cults and closed groups--such an explosion is simply what happens when you have people wake up in the same space with people who are still in denial. When there was a split in the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, some leaders there invited speakers with cult expertise to aid in recovery. According to Baltimore magazine, a priest who had formerly belonged to a cult brought to the local ordinary's attention the fact that Lamb of God Community was cultlike. Since at least four covenant communities have been thought to be cultlike in one way or another, and because the community in Ann Arbor has had extensions in Latin America, it seems to me that examining these covenant communities would serve as a good vehicle for the bishops of the Americas to study and gain information about cults and sects in general. Could some members of the Bishops' Conference set up a study group to:

10 • Look at what happened in the above mentioned covenant communities to see if they did become the closed, high demand, total life group that merits the name cult, which is what many ex-members believe. • Evaluate the various covenant community interventions made by Bishop Gilbert Sheldon in Akron, Ohio, by Archbishop Peter Gerety in New Jersey, by William Cardinal Keeler in Baltimore, Cardinal Hickey in Washington, and Bishop Ottenweiller in Steubenville. • Develop strategies for intervention, identifying abuse where it exists, and assisting the victims. • Assess a covenant community like People of Praise in South Bend, Indiana, where there has been no intervention despite allegations of sexual and financial improprieties. I would strongly urge that the knowledge and experience of exmembers of covenant communities, like Dr. Ray Dreitlein of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, be utilized. I would recommend that a way be found to help people exit and recover from closed Christian groups without former members losing their faith in God. There are now hundreds of ex-members of Catholic covenant communities who can no longer go into a Church, much less go to Mass. I would make the plea that such a study group function with out a mentality of "us" and "them." All of us have the potential to be victims. It is the kindness of Cardinal Hickey as expressed in the many hours and days that he and his committee gave to the Mother of God Community that encourages me to feel free to offer my thoughts as a contribution to the preparations being made for the Synod of the Americas. I will be praying for its success. Yours sincerely in Our Lord,

Judith C. Tydings cc: Attachments