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Caritas of Birmingham

News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Caritas of Birmingham
A Shelby county Alabama judge in July sentenced Phillip J. Kronzer to 15 hours in jail for making derogatory statements, in violation of a court order, about the Caritas organization, led by Terry Colafrancesco. Kronzar is a California businessman who “declared war on cults” when his wife left him for Caritas, an organization dedicated to hosting a Bosnian Catholic visionary [and the pilgrims who come to see her.] Kronzer, who admitted posting derogatory material on his website about Colafrancesco and his lawyers, has been ordered to pay them $225,000 for breaching a settlement agreement not to discuss the case. [csr 5.2 2006]

Brainwashing Suit Settled
Former members who claim they were brainwashed and drained of assets by Caritas have reached a settlement with the religious group. Caritas, a residential community with several locations, was founded by Terry Colafrancesco, in Alabama, in the wake of a visit by an eastern European woman who reported visitations from the Virgin Mary in Colafrancesco’s pasture. The group has settled similar suits in California and Florida. (AP in Tuscaloosa News, Internet, 4/7/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Caritas of Birmingham
Accused of “Brainwashing”
Former residents and parents of residents accuse the Shelby County, Alabama, Caritas of Birmingham community, led by Terry Colafrancesco, of fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. They say Colafrancesco lures devout Catholics to Caritas and then takes all their money. A judge has ordered principals in the three-year-old suit to submit to mediation.[csr 4.1 2005]

Colafrancesco created Caritas following the 1988 vision of a woman from Bossnia-Herzegovina who reported experiencing visitations from the Virgin Mary while standing in Colafrancesco’s pasture. She continues to have visions during her periodic returns to the US, and her most recent visit drew thousands of pilgrims. The community draws its membership from such people, who give up their property when they move into Caritas. The community also receives donations from the devout around the world. Caritas, which the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize, operates a school, sawmill, gift shop, and farm. (Nancy Wilstach. Birmingham News, Internet, 12/28/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Caritas Called “Cult” in Ex-member Suit
Five former members of Caritas, a multimillion-dollar organization that promotes visions of the Virgin Mary, have sued the organization in Alabama state court claiming that leader Terry Colafrancesco lures people into Caritas with promises of spiritual enrichment and then drains them of money, forces families to live in nasty trailers at the group’s compound, and controls their lives almost totally. [csr 1.1 2002]

Plaitiffs include a one-time Colafrancesco lieutenant and five parents suing on behalf of their children, who still live among some 50 mostly Roman Catholics at the Caritas mission, 50 miles south of Birmingham. Since the visit to Alabama in 1988 of Marija Pavlovic Lunetti, one of six young people who claim to have seen the Virgin in the town of Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia, Caritas has become one of the largest organizations dedicated to spreading the messages of Medjugorje. (AP, Birmingham, AL Ledger -Inquirer, 12/13/01, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

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