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Cult Watch - Caritas of Birmingham Alabama, USA

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posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 08:16 AM
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This isn't a new cult. But I thought I'd add a thread about it for those who are interested. At some point, this place will probably explode with issues ... either like the Branch Davidians in a literal fireball of death ... or in a court of law with long term jail sentences for the cult leader. (IMHO) Considering the amount of money involved with this cult, I'm guessing it'll be jail terms for the leadership when all is said and done. Which ever way it goes down, when it happens, this thread will be here for reference.

These people are Catholic, but they are considered a break away group. They are completely devoted to the 'alleged messages' of Mary in Medjugorje. Medjugorje is a town in Bosnia in which six children (who are now adults) claim to have been having visitations by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. They claimed visitations daily since 1981. They claim messages from Heaven. They claim that they each have (or will have) 10 'secrets' to tell the world and they will reveal those secrets eight days (I think it's eight days) before the event happens. The Catholic Church has not ruled that Medjugorje is authentic. (It can't until the apparitions are 'finished'). But it also haven't ruled them to be false. The bishops of the area believe it to be false, however the Vatican stepped in and has taken over the investigation process.

'Messages' from 1981 - Present here

As I said, they are completely devoted to the 'messages' of Medjugorje. They live their lives by them .. to an extreme level. All other teachings .. be it the bible or the Catholic catechism or writings of the saints or other spiritual leaders .. is not given attention. ONLY the 'alleged messages' of Mary from Medjugore. They call their cult compound 'The Tabernacle of Marys Messages'.

Whole families live in the compound. They bury their dead on the property. They raise and school the children within the compound. They work long hours, 6 days a week, giving their lives and their properties and monies to the cult leader and his 'mission'. This is classic cult behavior .. working for 'the cause' round the clock without proper sleep and without letting in any outside 'normal life' ... immersion in the cult mission.

(side note - I don't care if people want to live like this. That's their business. I feel bad for the brainwashed, but it's their choice. HOWEVER, large amounts of money are being fleeced from people and there are some wonky international money deals going on .. so not only is what is going on with the brainwashing immoral, but it now crosses over into the potentially illegal zone)

The name of the cult leader is Terry Colafrancesco . There have been multimillion dollar lawsuits against him and the cult. He won the lawsuits on a technicality. He continues to draw people in with the claim to fame that one of the alleged visionaries from Medjugorje - Marija - visits each year and experiences apparitions of Mary there.

It should be noted that all the visionaries except Marija, all the priests of Medjugorje, and many others who are well placed in the Catholic church have said that people need to stay away from Caritas of Birmingham because it's a cult and a money making business for the cult leader.

Disclosure note - I have been to this place two or three times in the early 1990s to check them out. It gave me a very uneasy feeling. I thought they were 'nice but nutty' back then (20 years ago). I have also been to Medjugorje back in 1991. (I saw supernatural events - I can't say if they were from Heaven or Hell ... but they were absolutely supernatural)

The Official Website of Caritas of Birmingham

Articles on Caritas of Birmingham

Nancy Wilstach, The Birmingham News, Birmingham, Alabama regarding Caritas of Birmingham: "Former residents and parents of residents accuse the Shelby County, Alabama, Caritas of Birmingham community, led by Terry Colafrancesco, of fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. They say Colafrancesco lures devout Catholics to Caritas and then takes all their money." ... "The community draws its membership from such people, who give up their property when they move into Caritas. The community also receives donations from the devout around the world."

Several former Caritas of Birmingham members underwent treatment at the Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center in Albany, Ohio, the nation's only clinic specializing in the treatment of people influenced by abusive religious groups.

Caritas of Birmingham business still drains millions of dollars from gullible Catholics in donations. In recent years, it was annually $3-4 millions, according to words of the leader of Caritas of Birmingham, self-styled "A Friend of Medjugorje", Terry Colafrancesco in 2011


Testimonies of Former Cult Members

"In early 1997, Terry, Joan and I flew to Tucson, Arizona to ask yet another rich couple for $3,000,000.00 to clear up all Caritas' debts and set us up in a good position to "evangelize"."


"Many times during the nine years I was there, Terry needed money for certain things. We were told the money was needed to pay property tax on Terry's acreage. The way they would handle this was that Ruth McDonald would give us a Caritas check for a certain amount. This check was then deposited in our checking accounts and we then wrote a personal check to Terry for the amount. I and my bank have proof of all these transactions and copies which totaled more than $33,000 in 1996 and 1997 alone. And mine was only one of the checking accounts being used to funnel money to Terry."


"The last two shipments of humanitarian aid to the Medjugorje region were bogus. We used the guise of charity to smuggle without tariffs our own goods and building materials for our own purposes. We placed at the last two feet of the container things such as blankets, clothing, and other relief supplies that make it appear as though the entire container was filled with these things.

Shake downs, fleecing, money laundering .... Many more stories like those at the above link.

Local Man Escapes Alabama Cult

Tom O'Neill, a Xavier graduate and former teacher at LaSalle High School, was also in the FBI for 20 years. But none of his past work prevented him from making one of the biggest mistakes of his life. Now, his daughter is the one at risk.

"What is happening at Caritas is exactly the same as Waco, Texas," claimed O'Neill.

In 1993, federal investigators easily recognized the 80-member Branch Davidian compound as a cult. The same realization came with Heaven's Gate and after 187 people committed suicide in Jonestown in 1978.

O'Neill is trying to shut down Caritas in Alabama before it too becomes a devotion disaster, taking his daughter down with it. But, his efforts are limited.




edit on 11/11/2013 by FlyersFan because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 08:48 AM
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This thread is an example of Catholic bashing at its very worst. Its author ought to be ashamed of herself.

I advise any and all here on ATS to pay no mind to such nonsense. Thank you for heeding the warning.
edit on 11-11-2013 by XionZap because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:00 AM
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Lemme' guess ... you are a member of the Caritas cult?


XionZap
This thread is an example of Catholic bashing at its very worst.

WRONG. Nothing in this thread bashed the Catholic church at all.
- I was very clear that the people in the cult are a BREAK AWAY group from the Catholic Church.
- I was very clear that much of the Catholic church has DISTANCED itself from the cult.
- I was very clear that the 5/6 'visionaries' of Medjugorje say STAY AWAY from the cult.


Its author ought to be ashamed of herself.

Actually, I am rather proud of myself. Warning people to stay away from a cult that has
a history of fleecing it's members of life savings and of telling lies .... it's a GOOD
thing for a person to warn others away from that. So for those reading this thread ...
my advice ... STAY AWAY FROM THE CULT CARITAS. Not that anyone with even half
a brain would need to hear that advice. It's pretty obvious that the smart thing to do
is to stay away from it.


I advise any and all here on ATS to pay no mind to such nonsense.

Actually your post is what is nonsense.
The activities of Caritas are well documented.
The calls of 'cult' against Caritas are coming from CATHOLIC sources as well
as those who understand cults and cult behaviors.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:01 AM
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XionZap
This thread is an example of Catholic bashing at its very worst. Its author ought to be ashamed of herself.

I advise any and all here on ATS to pay no mind to such nonsense. Thank you for heeding the warning.

How is it "Catholic bashing"? I see nothing against the Pope or any other Catholic institution, just a piece about a group of apparent nutters who are preferring modern "messages" that are unverified over actual church teaching.

I can understand how, if one believed that there were really messages coming from Heaven that could be trusted, one might give them a fair amount of attention, but it's a leap to go from believing in Fatima or Our Lady of Guadalupe to building a compound to keep some people in and others out.

Cults are bad things, no matter what their basis is, and bringing them into the light cannot help but be a good thing.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:05 AM
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reply to post by XionZap
 

Help me understand your thinking here? How is this a thread "bashing" Catholics, when it is Catholics who are the main targets of this group?

If you've never dealt with cult members first hand, it's a scary thing, actually. People should be warned about them.

edit on 11/11/2013 by Klassified because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:11 AM
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Klassified
How is this a thread "bashing" Catholics, when it is Catholics who are the main targets of this group?

VERY TRUE. The vast majority of people who have been fleeced by this breakaway group are Catholics. Conservative Catholics. Catholics with good hearts who want to find truth and help others to find it as well. Millions and millions of $$$ fleeced from these people. It's mostly Catholics who have been preyed upon.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:22 AM
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What's the difference between this cult and say the IRS? What's the difference between this and any other religion that asks for monetary donations because God needs money to put in gold plumbing? (I'm bashing all religions just in case you needed to know. You don't need religion to find the creator.)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:31 AM
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Interesting thread OP . Thank you for putting it up .I read a recent post that touched a bit on that group and thought it strange and was going to look into it further but did not . At least having a thread dedicated to it I can check in every so often and see how the battle is going . I see you have already got a bite from someone that wants to challenge you .best of luck and let the truth fall where it may ..S&F ....peace



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 09:35 AM
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qwerty12345
What's the difference between this and any other religion that asks for monetary donations because God needs money to put in gold plumbing?

Religions ASK for money and time donations to help their cause or to help the poor, etc.
This cult guilts a person into giving up everything to the cult leader.
All their money. All their time. All their free will.

That's the main difference that I see.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 11:26 AM
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reply to post by qwerty12345
 


If you truly can't tell a restrictive cult from any other religious group your hatred and bias against religion has gotten the better of you.

Eta the easiest test of a cult vs a normal religion happens when the member tries to walk away from it.
edit on 11-11-2013 by benrl because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 11:33 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


So when are everybody's ten messages going to be released. That's 60 messages in all, if I'm counting right, when are they going to start dealing them out (from the bottom of the deck)? Are all 60 messages related to the same event or separate events? As I understand it a couple of the people haven't received all ten messages yet, when they do is that significant to the event or to this cult? I dunno. Thanks for the thread and for more information about this phenomena as well. Are you ever going to tell us the experiences you had there, I for one am intrigued about what you witnessed.
edit on 11-11-2013 by Aleister because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 11:34 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


I dont know about this group but this has "money mule" written all over it.



"Many times during the nine years I was there, Terry needed money for certain things. We were told the money was needed to pay property tax on Terry's acreage. The way they would handle this was that Ruth McDonald would give us a Caritas check for a certain amount. This check was then deposited in our checking accounts and we then wrote a personal check to Terry for the amount. I and my bank have proof of all these transactions and copies which totaled more than $33,000 in 1996 and 1997 alone. And mine was only one of the checking accounts being used to funnel money to Terry."


Link



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 11:50 AM
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Aleister
So when are everybody's ten messages going to be released.

The 'secrets' are to be released something like 8 days before the events are supposed to happen. We don't know when the events are to happen. And the secrets won't come to pass until all 6 children have all 10 of their secrets. Last I heard, there were still a few children without their 10th secret.

Are all 60 messages related to the same event or separate events?

If I remember correctly, most are separate events. There are a few cross overs but most are different. (I should say ... 'allegedly' ... because we don't know if Medjugorje is from Heaven or not)

Are you ever going to tell us the experiences you had there,

I went the summer of 1991.

- When I went over, my rosary was silver. I returned with it having turned gold.

- We have a picture in which Mary showed up in it. She's got a grey dress that you can see through and a crown of dark stars around her head. It was taken on 'Apparition Hill'. It MIGHT be Mary, or it could be an evil spirit trick. I can't post it because it's taken at a distance and its with film from 20+ years ago .. not crisp enough to show up if scanned and then posted.

- Saw a statue of Mary cry inside St. James Church.

- Saw the 'miracle of the sun' at the time of the apparition - we were standing on the West side of St. James Church. The sun spun and spun and changed colors. This was for about 2 or 3 minutes.

- I had an 'infilling of the Holy Spirit' just before seeing the miracle of the sun. It was a good thing I was kneeling at the time or I would have fell over. I wasn't expecting it. I was on my knees in prayer ... nothing unusual. I wasn't all worked up or anything. POOF ... it happened.

- THE BIG ONE ... We went to site of the cross on Apparition Hill. Ivan was having a prayer group there. We joined in. It was night. The sky was lit by the moon. There were puffy clouds floating around here and there. At that time, Mary appeared. For about 2 or 3 minutes before Mary appeared, all of a sudden the clouds started coming in from all directions across the sky. It was like they were magnetic and the magnet was over where we were praying. They came fighting against the wind currents and made a perfect donut shape over the prayer group. THere was a hole in the middle. There were no other clouds in the sky by the time Mary came .. the clouds had all gathered in that one spot. There was a hole in the middle of the clouds like a donut. Ivan said Mary appeared in a beam of light from the cloud. We saw the cloud as it came together but we did not see Mary. She was there for about 2 minutes. As soon as Mary left .. the clouds disbursed and went back to their normal pattern .. all moving with the upper winds across the sky.

It was IMPOSSIBLE for the clouds to have done that. Completely impossible. They should have moved along with the upper winds, but instead, during the time of the apparition (ONLY during the apparition), they came together against currents and held together over us - in a donut shape.

ALSO - we have a picture of Mary that we got over there. We got it in one of the churches. It changes. It looks alive at times. Her cheeks flush and her smile widens and her eyes 'sparkle'. She looks alive in the picture at times. Both my husband and I see it happen. It looks like this picture shown here .
edit on 11/11/2013 by FlyersFan because: (no reason given)
edit on 11/11/2013 by FlyersFan because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 01:45 PM
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XionZap
This thread is an example of Catholic bashing at its very worst. Its author ought to be ashamed of herself.

This post is an example of you bashing everyone who isn't like you - at it's very worst It's author ought to be ashamed of himself.

You never came back and specified what, exactly, is 'Catholic Bashing' in this thread.
But I found a whole lotta' bashing by you on other threads ...
Bashing of protestants, atheists, 'non-believers', and mostly jews.

So tell us exactly what is 'bashing' on this thread. I double dog dare you to try.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 02:33 PM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


Thank you for telling us, those are wonderful personal experiences. Have you had the gold tested, to see if it's real gold or had turned gold colored? The other experiences, the sun, the clouds, the filling with spirit, you are very lucky.

So there are 100 messages in all. That would be a trip if the things actually started coming true once they're released. And if many people had or are having the types of experiences you had then I'm not surprised that the Catholic Church hasn't dismissed the case and the events. Maybe they too are waiting to see when the message quota fills up and then starts proving factual or false. Thanks again!


edit on 11-11-2013 by Aleister because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 02:58 PM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


Thanks for sharing your experiences.



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 03:02 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 03:05 PM
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reply to post by qwerty12345
 


Um .... none of that has to do with the Cult of Caritas in Birmingham Alabama ....
I don't know what it is that you are trying to say in relation to the topic ... ????



posted on Nov, 11 2013 @ 04:25 PM
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FF, thanks for an interesting topic! SnF for you


Any ideas if this is a cult with just a single operation or if they've branched out to other areas in the southeast? Wondering if there's anything to worry about in the state to the left


From the experiences you describe on your journey, it sounds as if the experiences you had made a lasting effect on you and your husband! You said the picture you have of Mary changes. How often, daily? This was a picture you took at the site, correct?



posted on Nov, 12 2013 @ 06:44 AM
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kingofyo1
You said the picture you have of Mary changes. How often, daily? This was a picture you took at the site, correct?

- It changes just about every time we look at it.
- I got the picture in a church in Medjugorje. It was a printed picture and not one that I took.
It looks like this picture shown here .





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