You never know what might happen

Fr Ireneusz Skubis

It is summer and many of us have gone on holiday. During this time we can be especially exposed to proposals of sects. This is an international phenomenon. Acting in a decisive and effective way, sects absorb young people and make them change their systems of values to the extent that these young people leave their close family and friends, and let a given sect and their leaders manipulate them; these leaders do not know the term 'friendship' and they follow certain techniques aiming at achieving given objectives. A young man, especially the one who is lost, lonely or experiencing some kind of depression, thinks that he has found a friend, some very close person, someone who is very friendly. But it is the other way round: his life is being quickly penetrated; there is neither intimacy nor dignity. Such a young man gets mixed up and addicted; he falls into a trap of some psychological blackmail, which many a time leads to mental illness and even death.
In Poland it is the Dominicans that deal with the problem of sects and it is important to see how they define this phenomenon. According to them 'a sect is an institution that is totally submitted to the authority of its leader and the ideology he proclaims. A sect promises to meet simplified aims in a simplified way; it cuts itself off from the rest of society, creating sharp and insurmountable divisions between what is 'sacred', inside the group, and what is 'devilish', 'evil', outside the group. It manipulates and makes participants of meetings strongly dependent on the sect so that they lose their self-reliance and what they have at their disposal. It can also endanger their health. The leaders of sects can regard themselves as divine beings and make important decisions for the participants.'
The activities of sects have religious background. Their representatives also speak about God, about praising God and about religious experiences. Naturally, nobody would join any group, which is called 'sect'. Therefore, sects have various catchy names or they call themselves new religious, denominational movements or cults. They are everywhere - in the East and in the West, making use of the critical attitude towards life and conduct of parents as well as of the need to live a separate life, which are natural to the time of youth. Sometimes they urge to leave the 'hypocritical' world of adults and sometimes they just tempt people to choose the option of being original and different from the rest of the society. They appeal to those who are lost, who look for support but they also win those who are confident, society-oriented, modern, luring them to new theories concerning human existence.
In the beginning a person who wants to join a sect thinks that he has found people who understand him and who are friendly. He can be only astonished that they speak so badly about his environment, especially about priests and the Church. Then he becomes, quickly and almost unnoticeably, dependent - psychologically and psychically - but he must deal with this himself. We can see increasing activities of sects in the former Soviet countries. Sects make use of the increasing godlessness of society in these countries and since man is actually religious by nature, he wants to serve God and wants to pray. This explains the presence of sects in pilgrimages, which gather believers with bigger religious needs. A sectist melts into pilgrims, wins their confidence and becomes really dangerous. He gives certain texts for reflection. These texts shatter the clear picture of the world; sometimes they attack subconsciousness, wreak havoc and lead people astray. In Poland the problem of agitation for sects is evident and creates a need for defence. Thus there is the National Committee for Self-Defence Against Sects. Among other things the Committee organizes various meetings, aiming at helping promoters of social life to fight against sects. This year about 50,000 brochures that warn against sects will be distributed within the framework of the Campaign 'Summer 2006 without sects'. The Committee organizes a network of volunteers who will go all over Poland and distribute materials to young pilgrims or those who camp or gather in meetings or rallies where representatives of sects can go and wreak havoc in young souls.
May the concern about this problem motivate priests during this summer. A sect is not only disaster for an individual but also for family, parish and the whole society. This is a threat, which lurks waiting for each of us.
In summer you can contact the on-duty members of the Committee for Self-Defence Against Sects (0-75) 717-35-78 and 0-601-592--254 (from 8.00 till 22.00).
More information is provided at: and

"Niedziela" 29/2006

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: