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EPISODE#220
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS SCOTT WEEMAN

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics.

Today’s in-studio guest has quite a story and testimony to share with us. His name is Scott Weeman; and, he’s the founder of a ministry called “Catholic in Recovery.” This is specifically for men and women who find themselves in search of

recovery from addiction.

Pick up a copy of Scott’s excellent and powerful book, “The Twelve Steps and the Sacraments, A Catholic Journey through Recovery”, and visit his website at catholicinrecovery.com

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 1/30/21

EPISODE #47
TRENDING WITH CHRIS & TIMMERIE: PORN PLEASE?

75% of those who say religion is not important view porn as morally acceptable. What’s changed? A new Gallup poll reveals that the majority of Americans think porn is acceptable. On Trending this week, you’ll hear Chris Mueller and Timmerie Millington speak about how to overcome a pornography addiction, how parents can help one teacher’s plea for better discipline of children, and how Hungary’s Family Policy drastically boosted marriages and lowered abortion and divorce rates in just seven years.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 6/17/18

EPICENTER FOR OPIOID ADDICTION A MISSION FIELD FOR CATHOLIC OUTREACH

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Philadelphia’s ongoing struggle with opioid addiction has found an epicenter in the Kensington section of the city, where open-air heroin sales, drug usage and overdoses have become commonplace.

In response to public outcry, city officials and law enforcement have intensified patrols of “heroin hotspots” in the area. As a result, many of those who are addicted and homeless have sought shelter in other parts of the neighborhood.

According to Father Liam Murphy of Mother of Mercy House in Kensington, several people recently took refuge in the former Ascension of Our Lord Church building.

After the parish closed in 2012 due to low membership, the church was relegated to nonreligious use by canonical decree and put up for sale.

The property was sold to a real estate investor in 2014 for $800,000 even though it had a market value of $3.5 million — yet it needed at least $3 million in repairs, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The sale was one indicator of how far the church, which at one time was one of the largest in the city, had declined. The same could be said of its working-class neighborhood that today is one of the city’s most troubled.

It also is the mission field for Mother of Mercy House, a Catholic neighborhood outreach launched in 2015.

Father Murphy, who staffs Mother of Mercy along with Sister Ann Raymond Welte, a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Father Joseph Devlin, said that he learned of the addicts’ new shelter from a tip.

So many addicts were in the church that “it looked like they were waiting for Mass to start,” he said.

Father Murphy and Sister Ann decided to visit them as part of Mother of Mercy’s regular “neighborhood walks,” an evangelization effort that “lets people know that Mother of Mercy House is here, the Catholic Church is here, and we’re present in case anyone would want to stop by,” Sister Ann told CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

During the walks, the Mother of Mercy team gives out snacks, information cards and words of encouragement.

But the visit to those sheltering in the former Ascension Church left both Father Murphy and Sister Ann almost speechless.

“There was something haunting about it,” Father Murphy said. “The people were in a daze. You could see the drug paraphernalia; it smelled of urine and whatnot.”

Those inside the former church were surprised to see the priest and the sister in full religious garb, but they were receptive to the unexpected pastoral visit.

“One guy actually said, ‘Oh no, you’re not taking the place back, are you? You’re not gonna make it a church again?'” said Father Murphy. “They were actually glad to show us around.”

The priest and religious sister attempted to learn more about those souls finding shelter in the former “cathedral of Kensington,” where city workers in recent days sealed up entrances to the crumbling structure.

While some were so high that “couldn’t have had a coherent conversation,” Father Murphy recalled “there was one gentleman who really talked to us. He did admit that he was addicted. He had had some clean time but was back in the addiction.”

The man asked his visitors for prayers to conquer his devastating habit.

The team at Mother of Mercy — which was created as a “storefront” church to enhance the archdiocese’s pastoral presence after Ascension’s closure — understands that pain.

“It’s just so difficult to believe that what used to be the ‘cathedral of Kensington’ is in the condition that it is, and that the people that are within it, more importantly, are in the condition that they’re in,” Sister Ann said.

Father Devlin noted that the migration of area addicts to abandoned structures will continue without a more comprehensive approach to opioid addiction.

“This is such a complex problem, and it’s really going to take a lot of people putting their heads together to help solve it,” he said. “The root causes aren’t being addressed.”

Among those causes, which include physical, psychological and emotional factors, is the spiritual aspect that is often overlooked, Father Devlin believes.

“There’s a spiritual vacuum, a hopelessness that sets in very quickly,” he said. “The addiction cuts someone off from God. They give up hope, they become entrapped.

“Part of this is the face of evil, particularly in the young who have had opportunities and where they were on a path to thrive, and the addiction just devastates them and leads them down a dark road,” he continued. “They’re really on a collision course racing to a brick wall, and I personally see that as evil at work.”

Opioid addiction entails a mixture of sin and sickness, the pastoral team of Mother of Mercy House believes, requiring both a spiritual and a physical response.

In their efforts to minister to Kensington’s addicts, the team first tries to meet their immediate needs including food and water. What results is a personal relationship that can be built upon.

“I just had a gentleman the other night, and I offered to take him to detox. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I hadn’t seen him those other times,” Father Devlin said.

The Mother of Mercy team provides spiritual assistance through Masses and prayer gatherings, sometimes held in neighborhood parks favored by addicts.

“You will find an openness among the addicted for prayer and blessing,” Father Devlin said. “If we can bring people to God, that power of Jesus — once they admit their powerlessness, they can be freed from this addiction.”

That admission is the first step in the recovery process, and Mother of Mercy House offers 12-step meetings — Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous — every Wednesday evening.

“The 12-step program uses the terminology ‘higher power,'” said Father Devlin. “But as a Catholic priest, I know who that higher power is, and that is Jesus Christ.”

Despite the scope of the problem, the Mother of Mercy team sees Philadelphia’s opioid addiction crisis as an opportunity to manifest the restorative power of Christ’s love.

“There is a way out, there is hope, particularly in this type of situation,” Father Devlin said. “Jesus can free them of this addiction.”

The grace of the sacraments, prayer and compassion are essential to bring healing, the pastoral team believes.

“And also, not to judge, since addiction could happen to any one of us or to any member of our family,” Sister Ann said.

 

WHAT CAN PRIESTS PRACTICALLY DO TO COMBAT THE PORN EPIDEMIC?

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2017 / 02:59 am (CNA/EWTN News) – Online pornography is one of the fastest growing addictions in the United States, on par with cocaine and gambling.

Once confined to the pages of a smuggled Playboy magazine, pornography can now be in the hands of anyone with a smartphone, and is more prolific and anonymous than ever.

PornHub, one of the world’s largest sites with porn video streaming, reports that it averages 75 million viewers per day, or about 2.4 million visitors per hour. In 2015 alone, the number of hours streamed from the site was double the amount of time human beings have populated the Earth, according to TIME Magazine.

And while pornography used to be a simpler problem for priests to address in the confessional – consecrate yourself to Mary, go to weekly adoration – the growing level of addiction makes it a much more complex problem for the Church to address.

That’s why Fr. Sean Kilcawley, the program directory and theological advisor for pornography ministry Integrity Restored, has started to put on intensive trainings for clergy, providing them resources and practical tips for how to address the growing crisis of pornography addiction.

 

How the trainings work

For an intensive training, Fr. Kilcawley takes a dozen or so priests for 3-4 days and immerses them in resources and training for the porn-addicted in their fold. He also facilitates shorter, one-day conferences.

“We try to equip the priest to get that person to come talk to them outside of confession, just to bring that into the light, so that the priest can then become the first responder in the field hospital of the church,” Fr. Kilcawley told CNA.

Smaller groups work best, he added, because it allows the priests space to process the information and to be more vulnerable with one another.

During these trainings, Fr. Kilcawley tackles the subject from an anthropological and theological standpoint, while Dr. Todd Bowman, a Christian psychologist and director of the SATP Institute, addresses the issue from a psychological viewpoint.

Modeling the relationship between a priest and a sex therapist during the trainings is key, Dr. Bowman said.

“I know that sounds like the start of a joke: a priest and a psychologist walk into a conference,” Dr. Bowman told CNA.

“But (it’s important) to demonstrate this relationship between soul care and care of the psyche or the mind, this process of healing often requires psychological care,” he said.

“So we’re trying to give priests the experience that not all psychologists are anti-church, or anti-Catholic. At the same time, not all Christian or Catholic therapists are equipped and qualified for this, so we’re trying to…(show them how to be) intentional in selecting therapists who will honor church teaching but who will also have the competence to do this work well with porn or sex addiction.”

 

Preventative action: Stopping porn addictions before they start

Practical things priests can do to address pornography addiction generally fall into two categories: preventative and interventional, Fr. Kilcawley noted.

One of the key things a priest can do to stop pornography addictions is to ensure that the parents of the parish are being provided with education and resources they need for pornography prevention in the home.

“We’ve always said that it’s the parent’s job to educate their children, but as a Church we haven’t done a great job teaching the parents how to educate their children,” Fr. Kilcawley said.

“And we now live in a world where it’s no longer optional to have those conversations.”

No longer optional, because studies show the average age of first exposure to pornography is 8 years old – and any kid with access to a phone or a tablet could accidentally stumble upon pornography, he said.

One thing he recommends is that parishes hold mandatory meetings for parents of children who are either receiving the sacraments or religious education at the parish, where they can give parents an overview of Theology of the Body, as well as tips and resources for internet safety and how to address pornography.

It can be especially difficult to know how to talk about such a mature topic with such a young age group. However, several books have been written in the past several years to help parents know where to begin, Fr. Kilcawley said, and some parishes hand them out during meetings with parents.

One of his recommendations is “Good Pictures Bad Pictures,” a read-aloud picture book that helps parents address the issue with very young children.

Starting at the 4th grade level, Fr. Kilcawley recommends the book “Wonderfully Made! Babies” which puts the content within the context of theology of the body and the sacrament of marriage.

For the junior high and high school level, he recommends “Plunging Pornography,” a book to leave in the bathroom for teens to find that can serve as a conversation starter.

Fr. Kilcawley said in some parishes, groups like the Knights of Columbus have paid for some of these books to be handed out to every parent.

He also recommends internet filters like Covenant Eyes, which sponsors a special service for parents, parishes and schools.

 

Interventional: What to do about those who are already addicted

Probably the most common place a priest will first find out about a pornography addiction is in the confessional.

When someone confesses viewing porn, Fr. Kilcawley said one of the best things a priest can do is to ask a few guiding questions to help them make a good confession.

“Ask questions like, ‘How frequently do you fall into porn and masturbation in general?’” Fr. Kilcawley said. The question is not meant to pry – it helps determine whether the person needs additional help.

It’s also helpful to ask when the problem started.

“If it started before puberty, which is most common now, almost everyone who started before puberty is going to need extra help stopping, they might need counseling or group support, and spiritual direction,” Father said.

A third question to ask would be if they’ve tried to remove porn from their life – are they already using filtering software? Are they seeing a therapist or going to a 12-step group?

And then finally, Fr. Kilcawley advised priests in the confessional, ask them if they want to stop.

“Just to help them make a good firm purpose of amendment,” he said, adding that when they answer yes, that’s a good opportunity to offer them more resources.

But it’s important that the help be personal. Simply handing the person a flyer and telling them to call a therapist or a group typically doesn’t work, Father noted. It should either be the priest, or someone involved in that specific ministry at the parish, who is the first point of contact for that person, and can help them get in touch with additional resources.

Another thing priests can do is start a porn or sex addict support group in their parish. Fr. Kilcawley said he started one in his office once a week, with a small group of men who were all struggling with porn addictions.

“Most people who are stuck in addiction, they need a support group, whether it’s a 12-step group like Sexaholics Anonymous or a spiritual support group, where they are open and vulnerable and accountable about their lives. They need that, plus a counselor, plus a spiritual director that they’re working with regularly,” he said.

 

Thou shalt not: The don’ts of porn ministry  

A mistake often made by untrained clergy in pornography addiction ministry is that they may suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that a pornography addiction is the fault of the spouse.

“It’s not the spouse’s lack of sexual interest that’s to blame for her husband’s sexual addiction,” Dr. Bowman said. Addicted persons will often try “blame shifting,” he added, which creates “a spiritual crisis that compounds the betrayal trauma” of the spouse.

The next mistake clergy could make would be to minimize the impact of the addiction on the spouse. Most people who find out their spouse has a sex addiction will experience varying levels of feelings of betrayal, Dr. Bowman said.

“There’s significant trauma in that loss of identity – but the Church can speak about identity as sons and daughters of God into that space,” he added. It’s when identity is only being informed by brokenness that bigger problems arise.

Another mistake would be to abandon those in recovery. If a priest commits to setting up support groups in his parish, he needs to follow through, Dr. Bowman said.

“If you are setting yourself up as a support that means take the phone call, schedule the meeting, even if it’s inconvenient, you’re going that measure and not abandoning folks in recovery,” he said.

 

Not a fringe ministry – this is evangelization 101

The biggest cardinal mistake that clergy can make in regards to pornography addiction ministry is never mentioning it, Dr. Bowman said.

It’s usually a more “omissive than commissive” problem, he commented. “It’s not like (clergy) are actively avoiding talking about this, but they may think, ‘My parishioners don’t want to hear about this, there are other things that are more relevant and important.’

But, according to Dr. Bowman, “There may be no more pressing topic for parishioners and priests alike…the only mistake would be not to bring it up.”

It may be helpful for priests to view this as part of evangelization, and not as a fringe ministry, Fr. Kilcawley said, because very likely, someone who is stuck in addiction is unable to have a good relationship with the Lord.

“Most people who are stuck in addiction believe they’re unlovable, and that if people really knew them they would reject them, and they don’t trust other people to meet their needs and so they have to meet their own needs, and their addiction is the best way to meet their need,” he said. “So if someone has those core beliefs, they can’t really know our Lord.”

“So anti-pornography work and anti-porn apostolates, they’re really the first stage of evangelization.”

Both Dr. Bowman and Fr. Kilcawley said they hope that increasingly, priests become aware of the urgent need to reach pornography addicts in their pews.

“We live in a culture where statistically, about half of Christians report looking at porn at least monthly,” Fr. Kilcawley said.

“So if that’s the case then, yeah we need a lot more (pornography ministry). It’s not a ministry for a few people, it’s more of a ministry for everyone.”

THE RISKS OF CODEPENDENCE

News about the rise in addiction in the U.S. focuses mostly on the addicts — how they got hooked on pills, and the dangerous consequences of that addiction.

But as experts know, addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum — people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are often enabled by family and friends in a web of codependence.

“Codependence is not an official diagnosis,” says Debbie Hutchinson, Psy.D., MFT, manager of the Outpatient Behavioral Health Programs at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach.

“It’s a pattern of behavior where one person relies on another person to meet his or her needs emotionally,” Hutchinson explains. “In addiction, one person often functions in the role of enabling another person.”

She gives an example: “If a husband says to his wife, ‘I’ve been using again, but I’m going to really monitor it this time,’ the codependent wife will say, ‘Honey I understand you’ve been really trying to do a good job with this.’ She is trying to be supportive but unintentionally minimizes the problem. She feels good in the role of being helpful to him and feels good receiving his acceptance and approval. However, he may not receive the encouragement to take the active steps that are needed to obtain sobriety,” explains Hutchinson.

Codependent people tend to tolerate the addict or alcoholic’s worst behavior, even if that means embarrassing public scenes, stealing and lying to family members or general lack of responsibility.
In this scenario, nobody gets a chance to recover.

Codependents are obsessed with other people, wrote Melanie Beattie in her groundbreaking book “Co-Dependent No More.” They can detail exactly what their addict or alcoholic friend or partner should do to improve, but they have no idea of what they need to make their own lives better.

Breaking the pattern
Hutchinson says that when codependent spouses or partners open up, they talk about frustration and feeling drained. They so consistently put their own needs last that they don’t even know what those needs are, she says.

“The codependent person is the caretaker,” Hutchinson explains. “And after awhile that’s draining. If you’re going through life not focusing on your needs, it’s like taking a glass water and pouring all the water out,” says Hutchinson. “You’ll run out of energy.”

She tells of a man who came to her for help who was codependent with his mother, and even with his friends. He found himself getting into abusive relationships. “He would try to be there for his friends 24 hours a day, and ended up losing his job because of all of the chaos that caused,” says Hutchinson. In therapy, he learned how to set boundaries, how to say no appropriately to friends who wanted his help. “With new coping skills, he turned his life around, and eventually found a new career,” she says.
“When you set a boundary for a person, when you put your needs in the picture, you’re helping the other person to know how to be in a relationship with you, that you’re not going to be walked on,” says Hutchinson. This is being assertive, not aggressive, she adds.

Parents and kids
Disengaging from set behaviors is not easy, especially when the addict or alcoholic is a teenager. But programs exist to help parents and their kids with these complex problems.

Mission Hospital offers a unique program called LIFE PLAN, designed for teens in recovery who have completed their program, to help them set goals and then form a network of support — mentors, counselors and teachers, like a personal “Board of Directors” — to help them reach those goals.

“I like to think of addiction as family treatment instead of one person having the problem,” says Hutchinson. “We’re all relational beings.”

Mission Hospital provides treatment for both adults and adolescents,
an in-patient detox program, a 28-day outpatient rehab program, parenting classes, cognitive therapy and family sessions. The hospital hosts a variety of 12-step group meetings.