I’ve divided this out into 16 parts in order to keep each post to a reasonable length and allow me to really think about each part.

Traditional Catholic and Twelve Step Programs
by Sean Romer
as written for the Angelus magazine, September 2002

With thousands of meetings attended by hundreds of thousands of members, A.A. must face a number of administrative tasks, even on the level of a single A.A. group. Enter the group conscience: a consensus of members reached after all sides of an issue have been considered. This is an extension of the democratic principle that typifies numerous A.A. initiatives, traditions, and policies. Many A.A. members, though, believe that the “God of recovery”19 makes his will known through these group conscience discussions; in such manner, simple pragmatic decisions sometimes take on an aura of inviolability (and remember that A.A. was conceived over 25 years before the beginning of Pope John XXIII’s council).


A.A. is an amateur synthesis of elements from religion, medicine, and psychology. It was developed through trial and error efforts, many of them painful, over a period of several years. Early on it was essentially a Protestant fellowship with strong Catholic components. Later it was modified to accommodate different religions and philosophies. The A.A. of today has gone through numerous permutations since 1935.

It is beyond the scope of this article to describe all the influences on A.A. A few of the more significant ones, important when A.A. was conceived and laying the groundwork for much that followed, should be mentioned-particularly the religious influences.