Chicago Cardinal Adds to Clergy's Criticism of Religious Movement

Associated Press/September 25, 2005

Chicago -- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is joining other Roman Catholic leaders in criticizing a secretive religious movement, banning the group from meeting in churches or other archdiocesan facilities.

Members say the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission, founded 12 years ago, is based on Catholic teachings and is trying to establish itself as a new religious order. It holds weekly prayer meetings in nearly 100 Catholic churches in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin.

On Friday, George announced that the Rev. Len Kruzel, who had been working full time at the group's headquarters on Chicago's Northwest Side, will be recalled to a pastoral position.

"While they have been functioning here for a number of years, the 'Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission' has no official approval as a lay movement or as a religious order in the Catholic Church," the cardinal said in a statement.

The cardinal's statement followed a six-month review of the group by priests and church scholars who received few answers to their questions about the group's operations and theology, archdiocesan officials said.

Love Holy Trinity member Dick Vogt said leader Agnes Kyo McDonald is unavailable for a comment "because of the persecution" of her group.

Bishops in Rockford, Ill., and Madison, Wis., have criticized the group in recent months. The strongest statement came Sept. 15 from Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque, Iowa, after some families in his diocese accused the group of using "cultlike" tactics.

Monsignor James O. Barta, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, said the diocese acted because of concern about a young woman, 19, who left home to become a "sister" in the group. Ashley Fahey's mother and stepfather said they have been cut off from her for more than a month.

"I feel so cheated, so lied to," Lora Knott told the Chicago Tribune. "How can they claim to be Catholic? The Catholic Church doesn't tear families apart."

The couple said that when they attempted to enter the Love Holy Trinity offices Friday, they were turned away by a man who reportedly told them: "Your daughter has made her choice. Respect her wishes."

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