Family Tree Mass 
(Generational Healing)

I often wondered where the Family Tree Mass & generational healing came from and why it is practiced in certain circles in our Catholic Church.  It didnt really make much sense to me as we have the Sacraments of Baptism and Confession as well as our beliefs in Purgatory and our prayers and Masses for the Holy Souls.  And we also have the Indulgence granted through the Divine Mercy devotion which is fully approved by the Church.  So I did a little bit of research on Family Tree or Generational healing Masses and here below are contents of some of the articles from various Catholic sources explaining that this practice does not have any foundation in our Catholic faith. 

This Family Tree/generational healing 'ministry' originated from an Anglican psychiatrist called Kenneth McCall.   Dr McCall wrote a book called ‘Healing the Family Tree’ in the 80′s .  

The practice of the Family Tree Mass began to take on in certain Catholic Charismatic groups.  The Family Tree Mass is a Mass celebrated for one's intentions, or apparently for the healing of any possible bondages afflicting the body, mind or spirit of any family members, living or dead (and also for the prevention of disorders in future family members who do not yet even exist). 

Below a paragraph taken from an article on the practice of Generational Healing...:

"Generational Healing" promotes the belief that there is a necessity to heal the family tree based on the alleged "too many cases" where recurring problems such as divorce, alcoholism, financial problems, accidents, run in families. When a person dies, it is believed that his/her spirits who caused such problems or natural spiritual tendencies or inclinations are passed on to the descendants. In other words, it is believed that children are adversely affected by the sins of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who were also affected by the sins of their ancestors.

Yet in Scripture we have the following passage from Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

There is nothing in Catholic teachings to support
"Generational Healing."

In 2007, the Korean Bishops issued a statement on this practice of the Healing of Generations or Family Tree.

Healing the "family tree", or "generational healing" spread from the United states to Korea. The Korean bishops express deep concerns that some Catholics have deviated from Church teaching and issue a pastoral directive against it.  They said it arises from an incorrect interpretation of the doctrine of original sin and an incorrect view of the world to come, adding that these errors are combined with shamanism.

Bishop Choi explains that "family-tree healing is a mixture of traditional Church teaching" on the souls of the dead and Oriental religious worldviews. "The belief that people inherit their ancestors' sins is not part of the Catholic faith," he stresses.
He points out that sins belong solely to the individual and cannot be inherited. Furthermore, Baptism frees all Catholics from their past sins, even original sin, he points out.
In his directive, the prelate prohibits meetings where erroneous "family-tree healing" beliefs are propagated. summary of the above document originally came from,

Fr Peter Joseph has a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University. He lectured in dogma at Vianney College, the diocesan seminary of Wagga Wagga, Australia, where he served as vice-rector. He has taught Theology at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. He is at St Dominics at Flemington, Sydney.
He wrote the following in relation to the practice of Generational healing...

In the Catholic schema of things, we need to remember that sin is the greatest of all evils. God has not promised to heal us or release us from all ills in this life, but He has promised absolutely to forgive our sins if we repent.
The belief in ancestral or generational curses, etc, is a perversion of the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin, which suffices to explain the evils and imperfections in this world.

The remedy is baptismal regeneration and the life of Grace, not special exorcisms and healing rites, etc.  If people make a good confession of the past, make reparation for their sins, keep the Commandments, receive the Sacraments regularly, and avoid the occult and superstitions, and so on, then they can be certain that any afflictions are not by reason of some occult cause.  

Some Catholics claiming to expel the influence of troublesome ancestors are really just misled by New Age influences, which play upon desperate people's sensitivities and susceptibilities. It is typical of the new agers to teach others to look elsewhere than themselves for the source of their problems. This is a big problem in today's world, namely refusing to take responsibility for our own choices and decisions. So some seek to blame their parents, or ancestors, or evil spirits, or a curse that was placed upon them.  It is also extremely imprudent to tell people afflicted with fears that their problems are caused by demons or ancestors binding them. Such explanations are only calculated to make them worse.

What they do need is formation in the virtues of fortitude and trust in God.  We all know that in certain families there is a bigger tendency to alcoholism or gambling or reckless daring or other vices or whatever. But we also know that within a single family there are some siblings who are like chalk and cheese. Our basic temperament may be a given, but our character, which is what we do with it, is up to us. If we co-operate with the grace of God, we can overcome temptation, unhealthy proclivities and bad example. We can acquire new virtues. From sinful parents, God can and does produce saints! Only mindless determinism tries to lock people into a box for the rest of their lives.

There is a book by an Italian theologian, Father Renzo Lavatori, on  demonology from the Fathers of the Church. In that thorough book, and in other learned tomes on the teachings of the Fathers, you will not find a single Father of the Church who taught anything about evil spirits following your ancestral line, or healing your family tree by identifying the ancestor who is holding you bound.

I would go further and say that no Father, no Doctor of the Church, no Saint, no Pope, no Council ever taught or even implied any such thing. It is a pure fiction without foundation in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. There is not a word on the subject in the 688 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a mythical notion imported from sects outside the Church.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press).  He says the following on this practice.  He writes .......

I think God does not hold children, or present generations, morally responsible for the sins of their parents and ancestors. This is clearly laid out in Holy Scripture when the Israelites were blaming their troubles on the sins of their forefathers (see Jer 23:5-6). In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 18, verses 1-4, we read:   "The Word of the Lord came to me again: "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?' As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: that soul that sins shall die."

So, despite the ancient temptation to blame our ancestors for our sins and misfortunes, we are each morally responsible for our own sins in the eyes of God. Indeed, we need to look into our own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to help us repent so that we can find forgiveness and spiritual healing. God is surely not so unjust as to force children (including infants, who have not attained the age of reason and therefore have not committed any voluntary sins of their own) to "pay" in justice for the sins of others.

Jesus Christ merited on the cross the forgiveness and sanctification of the whole world, but when people fail to fully receive that gift from Him, through repentance and faith — i.e., if their contrition for sin and love for God was "half-hearted" in this life — then they remain in partial moral debt to God (still owing, in theological jargon, "the temporal punishment for sin").

So by the grace and merits of Christ we can obtain further graces of contrition for them, and help relieve that moral debt. If this is what the offering of "Family Tree" Masses and "Generational" Masses means, then I see nothing but good in it. It is just another way of praying for the dead.   But if people think that they are thereby magically warding off the evil effects on their lives of the sins of their ancestors (effects such as I have described above), or "paying" for their ancestors' sins in ritual ways so that God will not make them "pay" for their ancestors' sins in real life, then I am afraid they are afflicted by superstition and a false view of God's justice. He does not force anyone to pay for the sins of anyone else, and in most cases, the ill effects of the evils of past generations on us today are best dealt with by Christian counseling and healing prayer.

Thus, the mercy of God can both pardon and heal the sinful hearts of our faithful departed ancestors, and heal us of the ill effects of any of their sins that we suffer from today. That is definitely part of what our Lord meant when He said to St. Faustina: "My Mercy is greater than your sins, and those of the entire world" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1485).

Former Anglican, now Catholic Priest serving in the Diocese of Charleston Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes the following on his blog...this is just a section of his article which can be located on the link below.

Posted by Fr Longenecker at Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Healing the Family Tree

The fact remains that we, as Catholics, follow in the ancient tradition of the church and the Hebrew religion before us, in celebrating the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of our dead. We believe this does them good spiritually, but we often overlook the benefits to the living. A proper funeral and requiem Mass ritually cuts the bonds between the dead person and the living. It frees the living from the negative bonds that may exist and allows the dead person to rest in peace. It also, if you like, allows the living person to exist in peace.

If Catholics simply practiced our age old tradition of having masses offered for the dead, for years' anniversaries to be observed and for requiems to be offered regularly--especially when there has been a traumatic death, an unresolved family trauma or an unresolved death, then the dead would rest in Christ's peace and the living family members would find resolution of many of their illnesses, mental problems, family 'curses' and continued inherited spiritual and psychic diseases.
It would be a natural part of our life together rather than a stupendous and 'amazing' ministry of healing. Why not use the month of November to continue to pray and offer Masses for your beloved dead? It can't do anyone any harm, and it is likely to bring about much good that you cannot now imagine.



  1. So much confusion because Korean bishops denounce it, but good priest fr. John Hampsch (in good standing with the church) supports it. What does the church teach?

  2. It is right and correct to pray for the dead, but it is not right to say that the sins of the Fathers affect the children in the way they claim. Each person is responsible for his or her owns sins. We are all suffering the effects of sin but we don't inherit the sins of our ancestors. We must pray for the dead. In Purgatory people suffer because of their own sins in their lives on earth. Everything is already explained above. As Catholics we must believe the graces received at Baptism for each of us. Yes there are good Priests involved in this 'Family Tree' issue but perhaps they should re-name it to just praying for the dear departed. The Family Tree / Generational healing as I know it has Protestant roots. It is not Catholic.

  3. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, "Adveniente Millennio Tertio," made affirming statements regarding the need to heal the effects in us in the present resulting from sins committed in past generations. He urged the Bible-based mentality of Leviticus 26:40: “Confess your iniquity and the iniquity of your ancestors.”

  4. So confused... looking for help for my family... and yes I am one of those desperate people. I have been back and forth on this issue for a while now. One priest cut through a lot of it and said, "You need to just come to Mass." AND that was true... I was desperate to help my family but not very obedient my self. I have heard so many different things on this from so many different people... some of those people are priests. I think that confusion is sown by we know who... so maybe I will rely on: prayer and penance. I know this is an old thread, but if anyone has anything helpful to add for me, please do so.

    1. Dear Anonymous, I don't know what your problem is but we can help our family by praying ourselves and coming closer to Christ. It is only Jesus who can change our families. Pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet (especially for your family), go to daily Mass and regular Confession yourself and it will bring healing and peace to your soul. Many of the Saints also had problems with their families. I would also recommend reading the Diary of St. Faustina. Get into a good habit of prayer yourself and good spiritual reading. Jesus wants you to draw closer to Him and work on your soul. Leave your famiily to Christ and witness to them through love and prayer.


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