The Traditional Catholic and 12-Step Programs, Part 2

I’ve divided this out into 16 parts in order to keep each post to a reasonable length and allow me to really think about each part.

Traditional Catholic and Twelve Step Programs
by Sean Romer
as written for the Angelus magazine, September 2002

TREATING ALCOHOLISM
Alcoholism deprives a man of control over his life by destroying his peace of mind, his body, and his spirit. The will to live is diminished, hope is poisoned by despair, and the world becomes a joyless place. An alcoholic feels alone and trapped: though he may have been guilty of irresponsibility and gluttony early in his drinking career, at the advanced stages he no longer exercises free will-he is effectively enslaved by the bottle. Such a man sees little prospect for improvement after experiencing many drunken episodes followed by failed efforts to control or stop his drinking.

It is small wonder, then, that alcoholism is a common source of unhappiness, poverty, birth defects, deterioration of mind and body, impaired leadership, collapse of moral values, abuse, unstable homes and family disruptions, divorce, violent crime and other public disorders, imperiled highways, disease, insanity, suicide, and death.3

Remedies for alcoholism have varied through the ages, but even the most promising ones have delivered only short-term or limited success. Representative cases include:

• The Washingtonians, a temperance fellowship with an evangelizing Protestant outlook, begun in Baltimore in 1842. At its peak it boasted 4,000,000 members, but it faded from view by I860.4

• The Pioneers, founded in 1898 by Fr. James Cullen, S J., and inspired by the temperance work of Fr. Theobald Matthew. The Pioneers is a Catholic temperance movement formally approved by Pope St. Pius X in 1905; its most well-known member was Venerable Matthew Talbot. The group was begun in Ireland and is present in a number of countries around the globe, but its members remain few in number.

There is a group, however, that claims success in enabling large numbers of alcoholics to attain and maintain sobriety: Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 by two alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Robert Smith, M.D. (“Dr. Bob”), A.A. reports to have helped over 2,000,000 men and women in over a hundred countries since its inception.

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