Bizarre book "How to change your husband" by self-styled "A Friend of Medjugorje" (Terry Colafrancesco, Caritas of Birmingham)

troubles faithful Catholic women and their families

"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." [1]

By a former member of Caritas of Birmingham

Concerned faithful Catholic women posted their following reviews of the book How to Change Your Husband by self-styled "A Friend of Medjugorje" on Amazon bookstore. They found the book to be "un-catholic", "dangerous" and "extreme". You can also read the review made for priests of St. James Parish, Medjugorje by Adrian Reimers, Ph.D. from University of Notre Dame. [2]

June 12, 2007 review by Ms. Perusse: Mom of 6

"I really didn't like this book. I am a homeschooling mother of 6, deeply faithful, non-cafeteria Catholic and I thought this author leads Catholic women into dangerous territory and gave some seriously bad advice. The author uses a hidden identity and identifies himself/herself as a friend of Medjegorje. I think he/she does this to try to show his/her view points are based on authority. I have no problem with any of the scripture quoted, but I do have a problem with the interpretation of that scripture. The author makes statements like women should submit to their husbands even if they are being physically abused. The author also claims that women holding out on sex from their husbands plants great seeds of evil and that their husbands will seek sex somewhere else. I do not espouse holding sex from your husband out of vengeance. That is wrong, but I am studying to be Natural Family Planning Teacher and I have used NFP for the last 6 years and I know that in marriage both people must communicate and respect one an other. Not having sex during a fertile time for a non-selfish good reason to postpone children is seen as a great benefit by the Church. Men need to know self control too. The book never mentions NFP. JPII states there can be no equality without mutual submission."

This review received on Amazon, Oct 21, 2009 the following testimony on activities of self-styled "A Friend of Medjugorje" i.e. Terry Colafrancesco leader of "Caritas of Birmingham":

"I know that this is 2009, and this comment was made in 2007. I am warning people NOT TO READ THIS BOOK!! The author is a cult leader in Birmingham, Alabama. His name is Terry Colafrancesco and he has a very distorted view of Catholic teaching and how women are to be to men. His wife's name is Annette and the both of them have accumulated massive wealth through their Medjugorje cult. His is in the "visionaries" back pockets and has personally destroyed many many families. I know this first hand as I have had a family member escape this damaging cult. Years of therapy have passed for them, but they will never be the same. This book should be banned in all Catholic and non-Catholic homes if you REALLY value family life!!"

February 28, 2011 review by Ms. Flood: Not a Catholic book!

"This book initially seems "Catholic" in its devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Blessed Sacrament. However, it takes the Ephesians quote, "wives submit to your husbands" to an extreme that goes beyond anything I've heard in the Catholic church. (I'm not a cafeteria Catholic!)

An internet search reveals many critics questioning the author and the organization (Caritas of Birmingham), suggesting they are not loyal to the papacy, among other things that would qualify them as a "splinter" group, separating itself from the one true Church. These may be false allegations, but I don't see the group defending itself against these claims.

And it all makes sense. The book's references are sketchy, no-name authors. Wouldn't a Catholic book such as this reference papal writings, saints, etc.? Where is JPII?

I would have quit reading the book after a couple chapters, except that several faithful women whom I highly respect recommended it. I think people believe that society's extreme hostility towards marriage and family justifies the book's equally extreme "traditionalism" (wives must stay in abusive relationships, a husband's infidelity is the fault of the wife). Erring on the side of conservatism is still an error! The Church doesn't oppose contraception just to take an extreme position, it opposes it because it is wrong! Bottom line, if you are a Catholic, loyal to the papacy, do an internet search on "Caritas of Birmingham" and "A Friend of Medjugorge" before you buy this book. If you're looking for advice on marriage and family, read something that aligns with the Church's teachings."

August 4, 2011 review by Ms. Jennings: Not everything that calls itself Catholic is!

"This was without a doubt the worst, most dangerous, not to mention un-Catholic book, I have ever read. I formerly had a positive impression of Caritas of Birmingham based upon the reviews of some friends, but having read this book, it has thoroughly discredited itself in my eyes. The "heroines" quoted in this book sound likely seriously unhealthy, emotionally ill, co-dependent women. For instance, what woman would have 14 children with a violently abusive alcoholic man whose last action before his fatal car accident was to smash his wife's skull with a hammer! That is sick and distorted! I felt incredibly creepy reading this entire book, every last page. What is demonic is the thought that our good and loving God made women little more than degraded animals to serve the superior man's needs and to coddle him through his life. Why are so-called Christians always preaching at women about being more humble, but not about men's need for this great virtue? As a pro-life, strongly believing Catholic woman, I am very grateful that our Holy Father has never spoken such disrespectful things to women. Love means service and we are to serve each other. Period."

September 13, 2011 review by Ms. Granger: Perpetrates abuse, and spiritually abusive

"My mom changed when she got this book as a "joke" from my abusive father. haha, sure. "joke." She changed for the worse, giving up the little fight she still had in her, and let my father steamroll over the family and abuse the kids.

You can download it for free off of the cult's website (Caritas in Birmingham) and see for yourself without paying any money for it. It advises wives to stay in abusive marriages even when the husband abuses her and the children, which is DANGEROUS.

One particularly appalling story the book upholds as a shining example of submission is the wife who remained submissive even as her husband tried to kill her with a hammer to the skull.

If you still are tempted to buy this book, please google Caritas in Birmingham and Terry Colafrancesco before reading the book. It is NOT Catholic, and it is NOT true to the story of the apparitions at Medjugorje."

"I don't know about a lot of what is happening at Caritas, but what i felt in my heart about a book written by "A Friend of Medjugore" called How to Change Your Husband was it was not right and left me feeling like it was not in line with the church's teaching on what a marriage should be. The first four chapters are in error in my belief. I did have a local priest I talked to recently say that this book is not in line with the Church's teaching and that this seemed to be a "fundamentalist" group. My dad has always warned me about fundamentalist."

By Ms. Oliver

"That ain’t Catholic. That’s Colafrancesco-ism. That’s not Christianity, that’s fundamentalism. He just dresses it up all pretty. At a first glance, it seems innocuous, and even helpful. It looks spiritual. It looks Catholic. And women will read it for that reason. And if women are desperate to find a way to fix their marriage and fix their husbands so he won’t be abusive anymore, they will believe it."

By Ms. Granger

"The authorities that the author cites for the core of his teaching – the requirement of strict obedience – are all Protestant fundamentalists. When Our Lady is cited or the lives of the saints referred to, this citation is always as window dressing. Mary encourages us to pray and to love; the author then states that this means she supports his thesis. He quotes selectively from Pius XI’s encyclical on Christian marriage, interpreting him to say what he has never said." ... [2]

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." [3]

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

All documents quoted in this article, together with 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:


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