Introvigne's role in Plinio's war on the "anti-cult movement"
by Miguel Martinez
This booklet proves that TFP ("Tradition Family and Property") was already upholding the same line of cult apology three years before they found a "sociologist" to make an organization about it.
In 1985, sexologist Introvigne was still attacking the "Jehovaist cult". In 1987, the sociologist Introvigne published Il reverendo Moon e la Chiesa dell'Unificazione (Elle Di Ci, Leumann, Torino), the first book in his war on the "anti-cult movement". After all, even a recent curriculum (in Libertà religiosa, 'sette' e 'diritto di persecuzione", p. 150) admits that it was only "in the second half of the 1980's" that Introvigne became a specialist in "contemporary 'new religiosity".
May we suggest that Introvigne's sudden transformation around 1985 had a close relationship to this campaign by T.F.P.?
There are several reasons for thinking that this was no coincidence.
First of all, Introvigne's switch-over was not individual: the same symbiotic relationship between AC and Introvigne existed before and after the switch-over.
And the switch-over involved all of Alleanza Cattolica, which very clearly changed its policy on cults in the same radical manner.
Secondly, Introvigne's writings can all be read as an extensive series of footnotes confirming the original thesis by "Doctor Plinio" on "cults and brainwashing". However much he may have written, none of his subsequent work shows the slightest deviation from these guidelines.
Thirdly, in his more intimate writings
in Cristianità, Introvigne quite clearly reveals the strategic
nature of cult apology, presenting it as a necessary weapon in the struggle
against the "Freudian and Marxist anti-cult movement" and to protect Opus
Dei and other groups (T.F.P. is only mentioned rarely) against "persecution".
There is nothing unusual in T.F.P. affiliates taking up the "Doctor's" instructions and applying them around the world.
Documents of course may be quoted out of context to design almost any scenario; however I believe I have quoted the documents correctly, in their context and have not missed any important information to the contrary.
Of course publicly available documents are only the last, and the least authentic, step in a long process: crucial decisions are never taken in magazines.
However, the documents which are available seem to confirm a statement repeated by several former members of AC (who by the way were not "socialized" into any "anti-cult substructure"): that Massimo Introvigne decided to found CESNUR as the result of a trip he took to Brazil. Trips to Brazil, as the booklet Tradizione Famiglia Proprietà: Associazione cattolica o setta millenarista? shows, play a very important role in preserving the social cohesion of the organisation.
Not having been a member of T.F.P. myself, I cannot say whether it is a cult. What is however obvious is that T.F.P. has gone through the same experiences as groups like Scientology and Moon have: problems with parents and relatives of members, and accusations of secrecy, duplicity, manipulation, personality cult and aggressive proselytism. And the reaction has been exactly the same: to put the blame on an imaginary 'anti-cult movement', run by 'psychiatrists'.
Presumably, TFP decided to pick on such an unlikely enemy, since attacking the Catholic Church would have dried up their source of idealistic young Catholics (before espousing Introvigne's theories, New Acropolis founder, J.A. Livraga, put the blame on Opus Dei and the Vatican's fear of the "giant of history", meaning the tiny organization NA) ; while attacking governments is, of course, an unwise policy anywhere
Once this ideological picture has been drawn, everything must be fitted into it.
Anybody who knows anything about cult monitoring organizations, knows that nearly all were founded to solve a problem: that of grieving parents and disoriented former cult members. In this sense, cult monitoring organizations closely resemble other self-help groups set up by people whose lives have been destroyed. If such groups have any prejudice, these are typically parents' spontaneous prejudices - they are not ideological in any way, and every cult monitoring movement includes people of the most diverse ideas, whose common problem is however far more important. At least in Italy, a large majority of the members of what Introvigne calls "anti-cult movements" are practising Catholics, however ideological/theological issues are never discussed in any such movement I know of.
However, Introvigne tells us how we "must"
approach cult monitoring organizations:
By the way, psychiatrists are not always enemies. In Cristianità, a certain Bruto Maria Bruti suggests psychiatric treatment as the solution for the "vice" of homosexuality, quoting about as many academic sources as Introvigne usually does, and speaks of such things as the third interstitial nucleus of the front hypothalamus ("Omosessualità: vizio o programmazione biologica?", in Cristiantià, July-August, 1995).