Many thanks to Randy Hain and The Integrated Catholic Life along with Eileen Homire, our dedicated Atlanta friend, for coordinating the excellent interview below, with Archbishop Gregory.
In the secular world we frequently hear of drug and alcohol addiction affecting almost every segment of society. Nobody seems to be immune from this scourge. However, we don’t often hear about how addiction sometimes affects our Clergy and Religious. These men and women of the Church face pressures and stress that many of us seldom see or appreciate.
What happens if they become overwhelmed by these challenges and seek relief in alcohol or drugs?
How can we help them come to grips with their addictions, find healing and return to active ministry?
Looking for answers to these questions, I sought out an interview with Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Archbishop Gregory is hosting two educational workshops in his Archdiocese next month on April 1st (Spanish Track) and April 2nd (English Track) at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, Georgia. Both tracks are open to parishioners, counselors, social workers and therapists interested in learning more. The workshops will include sessions on:
- Steps for Spiritual Living,
- Establishing a Parish Substance Abuse Ministry,
- Addiction and the Older Adult,
- Internet Addiction, and
- Addiction and Prevention for Older Youth.
Archbishop Gregory, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be interviewed for Integrated Catholic Life.
I would like to discuss a sensitive and often misunderstood subject: What happens to Catholic clergy and men and women religious who struggle with addiction problems? Can you help our readers understand the unique pressures and challenges which affect these men and women of the Church? Are there programs available to help them?
Clergy and Religious, like people everywhere sometimes find themselves captive to an addiction and they
go through all of the usual emotional and physical experiences of anger, denial, depression, rationalization, etc. What makes their situation unique is often the fact of their public character and responsibilities. There are some important resources that have developed that are specifically intended to assist Clergy and Religious in seeking and maintaining sobriety and healing from their addictions. Among the best known and widely respected resources are Guest House and its affiliate programs. Guest House was originally established to care for and to assist Clergy and Religious who are willing to confront and to admit their need for addiction intervention.
Archbishop, you mentioned Guest House in your previous answer. Many of our readers have likely not heard of this Catholic treatment center and the wonderful work it does. Can you elaborate further on the purpose of Guest House and how we can learn more about supporting their mission?
Guest House was established almost 60 years ago through the wise and generous collaboration of some professionals, laity, and clergy who recognized addiction as a treatable illness and who wanted to offer clergy and religious an opportunity to seek medical and clinical therapeutic help so that they might once again function in a healthy manner and return to the ministry of the Church as “wounded healers.” I urge you to view their website – guesthouse.org – for more background information. You might also speak with an alumnus of the program for more complete evidence of the success of their efforts at helping clergy and religious discover and maintain a life of sobriety and health.
Click this link to read more of this powerful interview: