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Abandon HOPE

A Sad Announcement:

The People of Hope was recently approved as private association of the faithful
in the Archdiocese of Newark. Unfortunately, the Church failed to address or
even consider the concerns and proof of physical, psychological & emotion abuse
on fellow Catholics who were a part of this group before they broke away from
the abusive practices of the Shepherding & Discipleship Movement in this group.

The Archbishop of Newark is being considered as a candidate to replace
retiring Cardinal Egan of New York.  Read the article
on Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests for more information.

This "new day" for the People of Hope is a constant reminder
of others being abandoned by the Church.

Home Whats New Abandon HOPE Leader Resigns The Pope of Hope The Warren Land Covenant HOPE Groups Renewal Resources Koinonia Academy Formation Process

The following is a reprint of a letter to the editor of Fidelity Magazine:

Abandon Hope?

The article on Schism in Ann Arbor brought to light many interesting facts to those outside of the charismatic covenant community circle. As a former member of one of the communities mentioned, The People of Hope, the article reaffirmed the concerns of many former members who are Catholic. Mr. Nash starts with a quote by Ralph Martin which started with 'I almost feel like I'm in recovery. ." For myself, I would humbly admit. I am in recovery. I have been deprogrammed. My life is being reprogrammed to normal Christian living. Veils have fallen off my eyes and I now see the controls and manipulations of an oppressive 'pastoral system' in my family’s life.

The People of Hope (herein referred to as HOPE) is a Catholic Charismatic Covenant Community centered in the Warren Towns hip and Berkeley Heights area of northern New Jersey. The membership of the community is comprised mainly of Roman Catholics. The community’s formation in the 1970s was from an ecumenical group, the Word of God In Ann Arbor, Michigan. HOPE at one time was affiliated with the large International ecumenical community, Sword of the Spirit. The community resigned from this affiliation at the directive of the Archbishop of Newark. Peter Gerety. The archbishop also directed the community to drop the word 'Catholic,' to cease evangelization activities and enter into a one year period of reorganization. These and other directives of the archbishop were never implemented. The leadership appealed the Archbishop's directives to Bishop Paul Cordes, head of the Pontifical Council for the laity.

While claiming a fervent Catholic life, the foundations of the community were formed over the years from a non-Catholic theology non-Catholic pastoral system rooted in the Shepherding and Discipleship movement. The following four controls (identified by psychologists Leo. Festinger and Steven Hassan) permeated the 'system of the covenant communities. These controls are: behavior control, thought control. emotional control and informational control. The following briefly examines each control I experienced it in the HOPE pastoral system.

Behavior control was accomplished by the structuring. regulation and discipline of a member's physical reality. HOPE members schedule their week with the discernment of a pastoral leader. There are prescribed times for prayer, fellowship and meetings. This schedule is to keep the person committed to the community and becomes an end in itself. Missing a community gathering to attend an extended family of origin event (birthday, anniversary, etc.) is discouraged. When my own mother was sick with cancer, I was criticized for not attending the Saturday session of a weekend retreat. The fourth commandment is looked at differently when the extended family’s members are in the community than when the extended family is not in the community.

Thought control has only one goal: to transform the thought mechanisms of a person to be "one with the group." It instills the ability to think 'yes' to the direction(s) the group is taking without one's own conscious critical thinking. This accomplished through the use of language, simplistic solutions and minimizing critical thinking against the group. Language needed to be sensitized to reflect the ecumenical nature of the community. 'Lent' became the '40 Days' in community teaching and practice. The crucifix was replaced with a barren cross. Members were told to turn off the TV or discard newspapers when critical stories of the community appeared in the press in 1985. As recently as June 23, 1991, at a general gathering of the community a senior head coordinator decided that it is a sin of deception and unity to read material that is critical of covenant communities and HOPE. When he declared he would not answer any allegations, the response was loud applause and shouts of 'Amen' and 'Alleluia'

Emotional control uses fear as an effective way to keep members committed to the group. Very often many were prayed with to be delivered from fears, the group in its own way instilled them. By the false creation of fears (How could you want to leave the community? Where will you get your support for your family, your children and your life is now? Why would you give up all that God has given to you?) and enemies, and making those enemies seem imminent (Islam. Communism, etc.), the community imposed an unconscious fear to leaving the confines of the group. Shortly after leaving the community, we still kept contact with members and former members of the community. We were told by a mutual friend that someone stated: "l pray for them. I hope they come back. I'm afraid they will go to hell because you can only get to heaven through the teachings of (name of coordinator)."

Information control was identified by Mr. Steven Hassan. People are encouraged to avoid access and use of TV, radio and magazines that do not deal with the spiritual life or the Church. Information and emotional control are evident in the community’s courtship and dating patterns. There are rules on how members of the opposite sex date and relate as singles; how many dates before a couple should enter into a commitment; when to enter into a 'commitment,' and to schedule the wedding without interfering with the community schedule. Some Catholic diocese set standards that the couple needs to notify the Church one year in advance to make arrangements. However, in HOPE, couples can be married within four months or less of their engagement. A couple may not even date for a year from the first date to the wedding date!

Sharing and relating is controlled. Discussions are controlled by a prescribed agenda. Men share on four points: 1) Relationship with God, 2) Relationship with family/spouse, 3) Meeting when the community meets, and 4) Generosity. Deviations from these four points usually included talking about a specific teaching or retreat weekend. Women getting together was also controlled. After all, women had to be protected from gossip or complaining. The general observation is that most women have superficial relationships and are missing a particular bond and support that women need with each other.

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06/10/2008 11:34:51 PM