A little over a year ago, I first heard about Fr. Yozefu-B Ssemakula and his book The Healing of Families due a seminar he was giving in Edmonton. I was a bit leery, but after a third person suggested it to me, I decided to buy the book and go to the seminar. The book store was out of his book so I bought a CD and prayer card. Personal events on the weekend of the seminar prevented me from going, so that was the end of it.
The reason I was leery was because the whole idea of healing family trees seems quite odd to me. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that this is necessary, no saints have ever taught it or suggested it, including those that came from very troubled families, and no Church documents endorses it. In short, if an idea is “new” regarding catholic doctrine, it is almost guaranteed to be heretical. The idea of “generational bondage” is not really new, but seems to stem primarily from Voodoo, which is a syncretizing of Catholicism with incompatible beliefs originating form indigenous African religions.
Furthermore, before I began RCIA, I attended a seminar led by Fr. John H. Hampsch. This was my first exposer to popular, but erroneous, practices and teachings among Catholics. It took great effort to find out what the Catholic Church actually teaches (particularly regarding liturgy, which was problematic at this seminar; although, I didn’t know it), and it has been experiences such as this seminar that have made the search for truth even more difficult. Thus, when someone said that Fr. Ssemakula was expanding on what this person had learned from Fr. Hampsch, a major red flag went up.
Due to continual endorsements, I finally bought the book and listened to the CD. I haven’t had a chance to read the book, but I have listened to the CD. I found the misuse of some theological terms rather problematic, but I eventually attributed this to a problem of semantics as some of the underlying concepts were quite important and useful to me. However, the whole concept of “generational bondage” was irreconcilable with authentic catholic teaching for the above reasons.
When a priest began discussing the book with me, I mentioned that I had found problems with the CD (I had only listened to the first part at that point). He was immediately very interested and wanted me to write down everything that I found a problem with. Given I had a great deal of other things to deal with, I found the request a little overwhelming, and never did it. I just couldn’t write something short and incomplete.
I first became acquainted with Bruce Sullivan around 14 years ago when I was asked to contribute to a book that Bruce also contributed to. I have another book by Bruce, Christ In His Fullness; and, he has appeared on EWTN and Catholic Answers. I trust his opinion, and he has written a great critique on Fr. Ssemakula’s work.
I strongly urge you to read: “The Healing of Families” -- Critique and Concerns
Addendum: It appears that Fr. Yozefu-B Ssemakula’s bishop is aware of the theological errors in the book The Healing of Families, which could not be given an Imprimature and Nihil Obstat, and does not endorse the healing of families ministry/seminar: Statement on Reverend Yozefu Ssemakula and The Healing of Families.