Marija Pavlovic Lunetti, the U.S. Community Caritas of Birmingham and Protestant Fundamentalism

Other languages: English, Italiano

by Prof. Marco Corvaglia

The community Caritas of Birmingham (Alabama) has gained much publicity and visibility in the U.S. by hosting many times (162 from 1988 to 2011), year after year, Marija Pavlović's, the Medjugorje visionary, daily apparitions.

So it is particularly interesting and significant to know the doctrines that are observed in the community and are spread by its founder and owner, Terry Colafrancesco.

He published in the mid-nineties, under his usual pseudonym of Friend of Medjugorje, the book How to Change Your Husband [Caritas, Sterrett (AL), 1996], printed by the community itself and now also downloadable from its official website.

Reading the book one is astonished by the male chauvinism, sometimes grotesque, that seems to characterize it: for example, he writes that the devil, in order to hide to people the potentially destructive nature of women, got persons to quit the right habit of giving female names to hurricanes that each year lash the shores of the Atlantic.

Actually, this isn’t simply absurd male chauvinism, but rather adhesion to well-known religious ideologies.

Among the morals most often cited in the book are those of Elizabeth Rice Handford, wife of Baptist pastor Walt Handford, and authoress of the book Me? Obey Him? The Obedient Wife and God's Way Of Happiness and Blessing In the Home.

Therefore, not surprisingly, the doctrines set out in the book printed by the Caritas community (based on an extremist interpretation of the Bible) are typical of Protestant fundamentalism and, among other things, are in stark contrast to the current positions of the Catholic Church, as stated in the encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem ("The Dignity Of Women"), issued by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

It is worth noting that these are central doctrines of the Caritas community, which wants to present itself as specifically dedicated to the rebirth of the family.

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"The fact is that a strong clerical and masculine vision often confines the woman to servile and secondary roles. But this misinterprets the Heart of God who instead looks upon the woman with tender love and admiration, thankful for her capacity to love even when she is not loved in return, and to generate even when others would want her sterile. Who knows why she is so “feared”? Perhaps because she is unable to remain silent before hypocrisy and deceit? Or perhaps because her innate sense of gratuity is so much in contrast with the widespread quest for power?" [1]

Sr. Stefania Consoli of Medjugorje related newsletter "Echo of Mary"

"Terry Colafrancesco teaches a blind, fundamentalist version of wifely submission to his group and his readership through his writings namely, his book; How To Change Your Husband. Manipulation of the Holy Scriptures especially in this area has seriously endangered the spirituality and in many cases the safety of countless people in abusive churches and cults around the world. Colafrancesco's version of wifely submission differs greatly from the teachings of the Catholic Church." [2]

By a former member of Caritas of Birmingham

"The book purports to represent God’s solution to the problem with families today. The author presents this as an important Scriptural lesson that Our Lady is teaching from Medjugorje. In fact it simply repeats a fundamentalist Protestant teaching that the Catholic Church does not teach. In fact, it is a teaching that Pope John Paul II explicitly rejects." ...

"If this teaching of “Friend of Medjugorje” is really from God, then our current pope and the Second Vatican Council have failed faithfully to teach us a vital truth. Colafrancesco has, in fact, turned from the Catholic tradition and the Holy Father’s express teaching." [3]

From a review of the book "How to Change Your Husband: Owner’s Manual for the Family" by “A Friend of Medjugorje”, reviewed for priests of Medjugorje parish by Adrian Reimers, Ph.D.

"One thing Fr. Svet can show you if you care to ask is a letter he received from Dr. Adrian Reimers, who use to have the responsibility for translating into English and distributing "Medjugorje Gebetsaktion", throughout the English speaking world" ...

"Terry, Dr. Reimers is correct in his criticism of your book purporting to give the Gospa's teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage. I lived in a community for 13 years here in South Bend that taught exactly what your book teaches. Such teachings may seem to bear fruit in people's lives for the immediate present - for a couple of years. But the Church has centuries of experience behind her teachings, i.e., her understandings of how rightly to interpret Scripture. In the long run the teachings you are putting forward destroy families..... and will eventually cause young people to leave the church. The community I belonged to still puts forward the teachings you espouse in your book. It has become a cult." [4]

From Denis Nolan's letter to "A Friend of Medjugorje" Terry Colafrancesco, Caritas of Birmingham, Sterrett, Alabama

Additional detailed information on Caritas of Birmingham and self-styled "A Friend of Medjugorje" (Terry Colafrancesco) are available in English and Italian languages online at:


For God to live in your hearts, you must love.