In recent years a wave of ultra-traditionalist movements has swept the Catholic Church. The three most powerful of them, with a total world membership which may be as high as 30 million, have their own priests and even bishop-members, and are hierarchical, exclusive and highly secretive. The ruler of each is the focus of a fanatical personality cult. They are the Focolare Movement, Communion and Liberation, and the Neocatechumenate. All of these movements engage in aggressive missionary activity, yet their characteristics are not simply those of conservative Catholicism; some are sinister. They include secret initiation ceremonies, brainwashing techniques involving ego destruction and the inculcation of total dependence on the group, moral and spiritual intimidation, and highly questionable - even dangerous - psychotherapeutic practices. Although their views are, at least in some cases, not merely extreme but heretical, these sects have the support of the Pope, who has adopted them as his personal "armada", his task force for a crusade of ultra-right-wing values and reactionary theology.
Drawing on interviews with ex-members, on access to confidential documents, and on the author's own nine years' experience as a Focolare leader, this book explores the bizarre hidden world of these organizations, with their own languages, cultures and ideologies.