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Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei

Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity.[1][2] The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests under the governance of a prelate (bishop) appointed by the pope.[1] Opus Dei is Latin for "Work of God", hence the organization is often referred to by members and supporters as "the Work".[3][4]

Founded in Spain in 1928 by the Catholic priest St. Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei was given final approval in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.[5] In 1982, by decision of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church made it into a personal prelature—that is, the jurisdiction of its bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses.[5]

The Prelature of Opus Dei has about 87,000 members in more than 90 different countries. About 70% of Opus Dei members live in their private homes, leading traditional Catholic family lives with secular careers,[6][7] while the other 30% are celibate, of whom the majority live in Opus Dei centers. Opus Dei organises training in Catholic spirituality applied to daily life. Aside from personal charity and social work, Opus Dei members are involved in running universities, university residences, schools, publishing houses, and technical and agricultural training centres.

Opus Dei has been described as the most controversial force within the Catholic Church.[8] According to several journalists who worked separately on Opus Dei, most of the criticisms against Opus Dei are less dramatic than its opponents assume,[8][9][10] and Opus Dei is a sign of contradiction.[11][12] Several popes and other Catholic leaders have endorsed what they see as its innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, and its fidelity to Catholic beliefs.[13] In 2002, in a move interpreted by both sides of the debate as signaling his approval of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II canonized Escrivá, and called him "the saint of ordinary life."[14]

Controversies about Opus Dei have centered around criticisms of its alleged secretiveness,[15] its recruiting methods, the alleged strict rules governing members, the practice by celibate members of mortification of the flesh,[16] its alleged elitism and misogyny, the alleged right-leaning politics of most of its members, and the alleged participation by some in authoritarian or extreme right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978.[17] Within the Catholic Church, Opus Dei is also criticized for allegedly seeking independence and more influence.[18]

In recent years, Opus Dei has received international attention due to the novel The Da Vinci Code and its film version of 2006, both of which many prominent Christians and non-believers protested as misleadingly inaccurate and anti-Catholic.[19][20][21][22]

Contents

History

Escrivá surrounded by working people, in a Filipino painting entitled, Magpakabanal sa Gawain or "Be holy through your work".

Foundational period

Opus Dei was founded by a Catholic priest, Josemaría Escrivá, on 2 October 1928 in Madrid, Spain. According to Escrivá, on that day he experienced a vision in which he "saw Opus Dei".[23][24] He gave the organization the name "Opus Dei", which in Latin means "Work of God,"[15] in order to underscore the belief that the organization was not his (Escrivá's) work, but was rather God's work.[25] Throughout his life, Escrivá held that the founding of Opus Dei had a supernatural character.[26] Escrivá summarized Opus Dei's mission as a way of helping ordinary Christians "to understand that their life... is a way of holiness and evangelization... And to those who grasp this ideal of holiness, the Work offers the spiritual assistance and training they need to put it into practice."[27]

Initially, Opus Dei was open only to men, but in 1930, Escrivá created a women's branch.[5] In 1936, the organization suffered a temporary setback with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, as many Catholic priests and religious figures, including Escrivá, were forced into hiding (the Catholic Church actively supported the Nationalist rebels). The many atrocities committed during the civil war included the murder and rape of religious figures by government loyalists.[28] After the civil war was won by General Francisco Franco, Escrivá was able to return to Madrid.[29] Escriva himself recounted that it was in Spain where Opus Dei found "the greatest difficulties" because of traditionalists who he felt misunderstood Opus Dei's ideas.[30] Despite this, Opus Dei flourished during the years of the Franquismo, spreading first throughout Spain, and after 1945, expanding internationally.[5]

In 1939, Escrivá published The Way, a collection of 999 maxims concerning spirituality.[31] In the 1940s, Opus Dei found an early critic in the Jesuit Superior General Wlodimir Ledochowski, who told the Vatican that he considered Opus Dei "very dangerous for the Church in Spain," citing its "secretive character" and calling it "a form of Christian Masonry."[32]

In 1946, Escrivá moved the organization's headquarters to Rome.[5] In 1950, Pope Pius XII granted definitive approval to Opus Dei, thereby allowing married people to join the organization.[5]

Post-foundational years

In 1975, Escriva died and was succeeded by Álvaro del Portillo. In 1982, Opus Dei was made into a personal prelature. This means that Opus Dei is part of the universal Church, and the apostolate of the members falls under the direct jurisdiction of the Prelate of Opus Dei wherever they are. As to "what the law lays down for all the ordinary faithful", the lay members of Opus Dei, being no different from other Catholics, "continue to be ... under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop", in the words of John Paul II's Ut Sit.[33] In 1994, Javier Echevarria became Prelate upon the death of his predecessor.

History of the spread of Opus Dei by country

One-third of the world's bishops sent letters petitioning for the canonization of Escrivá.[34] Escriva was beatified in 1992 in the midst of controversy prompted by questions about Escriva's suitability for sainthood. In 2002, approximately 300,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square on the day Pope John Paul II canonized Josemaría Escrivá.[35][36] According to one author, "Escrivá is... venerated by millions".[8]

There are other members whose process of beatification has been opened: Ernesto Cofiño, a father of five children and a pioneer in paediatric research in Guatemala; Montserrat Grases, a teenage Catalan student who died of cancer; Toni Zweifel, a Swiss engineer; Tomas Alvira and wife, Paquita Dominguez, a Spanish married couple;[37] and Bishop Álvaro del Portillo.

During the pontificate of John Paul II, two members of Opus Dei, Juan Luis Cipriani and Julián Herranz, were made cardinals.[38]

In September 2005, Pope Benedict XVI blessed a newly installed statue of Josemaria Escriva placed in an outside wall niche of St Peter's Basilica, a place for founders of Catholic organizations.[39]

During that same year, Opus Dei received some unwanted attention due to the extraordinary success of the novel The Da Vinci Code, in which both Opus Dei and the Catholic Church itself are depicted negatively. The film version was released globally in May 2006, further polarizing views on the organization.

Spirituality

Doctrine

Josemaría Escrivá teaching a crowd of men

Opus Dei is an organization of the Catholic Church. As such, it shares the theology of the Catholic Church.

Opus Dei places special emphasis on certain aspects of Catholic doctrine. A central feature of Opus Dei's theology is its focus on the lives of the ordinary Catholics who are neither priests nor monks.[40][41][42] Opus Dei emphasizes the "universal call to holiness": the belief that everyone should aspire to be a saint, that sanctity is within the reach of everyone, not just a few special individuals.[43] Opus Dei does not have monks or nuns, and only a minority of its members are part of the priesthood.[44] A related characteristic is Opus Dei's emphasis on uniting spiritual life with professional, social, and family life. Whereas the members of some religious orders might live in monasteries and devote their lives exclusively to prayer and study, members of Opus Dei lead ordinary lives, with traditional families and secular careers,[45] and strive to "sanctify ordinary life". Indeed, Pope John Paul II called Escrivá "the saint of ordinary life".[46]

Similarly, Opus Dei stresses the importance of work and professional competence.[47][48] While some religious orders encourage their members to withdraw from the material world, Opus Dei exhorts its members and all lay Catholics to "find God in daily life" and to perform their work excellently as a service to society and as a fitting offering to God.[49][50] Opus Dei teaches that work not only contributes to social progress but is "a path to holiness",[51] and its founder advised people to: "Sanctify your work. Sanctify yourself in your work. Sanctify others through your work."[52]

The biblical roots of this Catholic doctrine, according to the founder, are in the phrase "God created man to work" (Gen 2:15) and Jesus's long life as an ordinary carpenter in a small town.[53] Escrivá, who stressed the Christian's duty to follow Christ's example, also points to the gospel account that Jesus "has done everything well" (Mk 7:37).[54]

The foundation of the Christian life, stressed Escrivá, is divine filiation: Christians are children of God, identified with Christ's life and mission. Other main features of Opus Dei, according to its official literature, are: freedom, respecting choice and taking personal responsibility; and charity, love of God above all and love of others.[45]

At the bottom of Escrivá's understanding of the “universal call to holiness” are two dimensions, subjective and objective. The subjective is the call given to each person to become a saint, regardless of his place in society. The objective refers to what Escrivá calls Christian materialism: all of creation, even the most material situation, is a meeting place with God, and leads to union with Him.[55]

Different qualifiers have been used to describe Opus Dei's doctrine: radical,[56] reactionary,[57] faithful,[25] revolutionary,[56] ultraconservative,[58] most modern,[59] and, probably the most common, conservative.[60][61]

Prayers

All members - whether married or unmarried, priests or laypeople - are trained to follow a 'plan of life', or 'the norms of piety', which are some traditional Catholic devotions. This is meant to follow the teaching mentioned in the Catholic Catechism to "pray at specific times...to nourish continual prayer,"[62] which in turn is based on Jesus' "pray always" (Luke 18:1), echoed by St. Paul's "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). According to Escriva, the vocation to Opus Dei is a calling to be a "contemplative in the middle of the world," who converts work and daily life into prayer.

Daily norms:

Weekly norms:

Additionally, members should participate yearly in a spiritual retreat; a three-week seminar every year is obligatory for numeraries, and a one-week seminar for supernumeraries. Also members are expected to make a day-trip pilgrimage where they recite 3 5-decade rosaries on the month of May in honor of Mary.

Mortification

Closeup of a cilice-- a small metal chain with inwardly pointing spikes

Much public attention has focused on Opus Dei's practice of mortification — the voluntary offering up of discomfort or pain to God. Mortification has a long history in many world religions, including the Catholic Church. It has been endorsed by Popes as a way of following Christ who died in a bloody crucifixion and who gave this advice: "let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." (Lk 9:23)[63] Supporters say that opposition to mortification is rooted in having lost (1) the "sense of the enormity of sin" or offense against God, and the consequent penance, both interior and exterior, (2) the notions of "wounded human nature" and of concupiscence or inclination to sin, and thus the need for "spiritual battle,"[64] and (3) a spirit of sacrifice for love and "supernatural ends," and not only for physical enhancement.

As a spirituality for ordinary people, Opus Dei focuses on performing sacrifices pertaining to normal duties and to its emphasis on charity and cheerfulness. Additionally, Opus Dei celibate members practice "corporal mortifications" such as sleeping without a pillow or sleeping on the floor, fasting or remaining silent for certain hours during the day.[16][61] They may also wear a cilice, a small metal chain with inward-pointing spikes that is worn around their upper thigh. The cilice's spikes cause discomfort and may leave small marks, but typically do not cause bleeding.[65] Numeraries in Opus Dei generally wear a cilice for two hours each day.[16][66] This practice in the Catholic Church is "more widespread than many observers imagine."[8] In modern times it has been used by Blessed Mother Teresa, Saint Padre Pio, and slain archbishop Óscar Romero.

Critics state that self-mortification is a "startling," "extreme," and "questionable" practice — one that borders on masochism.[67] Critics assert that "due to modern psychology and thinking, the practices which inflict pain are sometimes considered to be counterproductive to one's spiritual development, as they can easily lead to pride and an unhealthy attitude toward one's body."[16]

Escrivá's opponents refer to his personal mortification practices that were even more extreme than those typically performed by Opus Dei numeraries— in one incident, Escrivá flailed himself over a thousand times.[68][69] Opponents likewise criticize Escrivá's maxim on suffering: "Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. Glorified be pain!"[16][70] Critics have cited mortification as one of the reasons for their opposition to Opus Dei.

Organization and activities

Governance

Monsignor Javier Echevarria, the current Prelate of Opus Dei

In Pope John Paul II's 1982 decree known as the Apostolic constitution Ut Sit, Opus Dei was established as a personal prelature, a new official structure of the Catholic Church, similar to a diocese in that it contains lay people and secular priests who are led by a bishop. However, whereas a bishop normally has a territory or diocese, the prelate of Opus Dei is pastor to the members and priests of Opus Dei worldwide, no matter what diocese they are in. To date, Opus Dei is the only personal prelature in existence. In addition to being governed by Ut Sit and by the Catholic Church's general law, Opus Dei is governed by the Church's Particular Law concerning Opus Dei, otherwise known as Opus Dei's statutes. This specifies the objectives and workings of the prelature. The prelature is under the Congregation for Bishops.[1][71]

The head of the Opus Dei prelature is known as the Prelate.[1] The Prelate is the primary governing authority and is assisted by two councils — the General Council (made up of men) and the Central Advisory (made up of women).[72][73] The Prelate holds his position for life. The current prelate of Opus Dei is Monsignor Javier Echevarria, who became the second Prelate of Opus Dei in 1994.[74] The first Prelate of Opus Dei was Monsignor Álvaro del Portillo, who held the position from 1982 until his death in 1994.[74]

Opus Dei's highest assembled bodies are the General Congresses, which are usually convened once every eight years. There are separate congresses for the men and women's branch of Opus Dei. The General Congresses are made up of members appointed by the Prelate, and are responsible for advising him about the prelature's future. The men's General Congress also elects the Prelate from a list of candidates chosen by their female counterparts.[75] After the death of a Prelate, a special elective General Congress is convened. The women nominate their preferred candidates for the prelate and is voted upon by the men to become the next Prelate — an appointment that must be confirmed by the Pope.[75]

Membership

Opus Dei has about 87,000 members in more than 90 different countries.[76][77] About 60% of Opus Dei members reside in Europe, and 35% reside in the Americas.[78] For the most part, Opus Dei members belong to the middle-to-low levels in society, in terms of education, income, and social status.[11]

Opus Dei is made up of several different types of membership:[6]

Supernumeraries, the largest type, currently account for about 70% of the total membership.[79] Typically, supernumeraries are married men and women with careers. Supernumeraries devote a portion of their day to prayer, in addition to attending regular meetings and taking part in activities such as retreats. Due to their career and family obligations, supernumeraries are not as available to the organization as the other types of members, but they typically contribute financially to Opus Dei, and they lend other types of assistance as their circumstances permit.

Numeraries, the second largest type of members of Opus Dei, comprise about 20% of total membership.[79] Numeraries are celibate members who usually live in special centers run by Opus Dei. Both men and women may become numeraries, although the centers are strictly gender-segregated.[60] Numeraries generally have careers and devote the bulk of their income to the organization.[80]

Numerary assistants are unmarried, celibate female members of Opus Dei. They live in special centers run by Opus Dei but do not have jobs outside the centers — instead, their professional life is dedicated to looking after the domestic needs of the centers and their residents.

Associates are unmarried, celibate members who typically have family or professional obligations.[80] Unlike numeraries and numerary assistants, the associates do not live in Opus Dei centers.[81]

The Clergy of the Opus Dei Prelature are priests who are under the jurisdiction of the Prelate of Opus Dei. They are a minority in Opus Dei— only about 2% of Opus Dei members are part of the clergy.[79] Typically, they are numeraries or associates who ultimately joined the priesthood.

The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross consists of priests associated with Opus Dei. Part of the society is made up of the clergy of the Opus Dei prelature — members of the priesthood who fall under the jurisdiction of the Opus Dei prelature are automatically members of the Priestly Society. Other members in the society are diocesan priests — clergymen who remain under the jurisdiction of a geographically defined diocese. These priests are considered members of Opus Dei who are given its spiritual training. They do not however report to the Opus Dei Prelate but to their own diocesan bishop.[82]

The Cooperators of Opus Dei are non-members who collaborate in some way with Opus Dei — usually through praying, charitable contributions, or by providing some other assistance. Cooperators are not required to be celibate or to adhere to any other special requirements. Indeed, cooperators are not even required to be Christian.[82]

In accordance with Catholic theology, membership is granted when a vocation, or divine calling is presumed to have occurred.

Activities

Leaders of Opus Dei describe the organization as a teaching entity, whose main activity is to train Catholics to assume personal responsibility in sanctifying the secular world from within.[15][83] This teaching is done by means of theory and practice.[84]

Its lay people and priests organize seminars, workshops, retreats, and classes to help people put the Christian faith into practice in their daily lives. Spiritual direction, one-on-one coaching with a more experienced lay person or priest, is considered the "paramount means" of training. Through these activities they provide religious instruction (doctrinal formation), coaching in spirituality for lay people (spiritual formation), character and moral education (human formation), lessons in sanctifying one's work (professional formation), and know-how in evangelizing one's family and workplace (apostolic formation).

IESE Business School of the University of Navarra

The official Catholic document which established the prelature states that Opus Dei strives "to put into practice the teaching of the universal call to sanctity, and to promote at all levels of society the sanctification of ordinary work, and by means of ordinary work."[1] Thus, the founder and his followers describe members of Opus Dei as resembling the members of the early Christian Church — ordinary workers who seriously sought holiness with nothing exterior to distinguish them from other citizens.[15][85][86]

Opus Dei runs residential centers throughout the world. These centers provide residential housing for celibate members, undertake recruitment, and provide doctrinal and theological education. Opus Dei is also responsible for a variety of non-profit institutions called "Corporate Works of Opus Dei."[87] A study of the year 2005, showed that members have cooperated with other people in setting up a total of 608 social initiatives: schools and university residences (68%), technical or agricultural training centres (26%), universities, business schools and hospitals (6%).[8] The University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain is a corporate work of Opus Dei which has been rated as one of the top private universities in the country,[88] while its business school, IESE, was adjudged one of the best in the world by the Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit.[89] The total assets of non-profits connected to Opus Dei are worth at least $2.8 billion.[90]

Relations with Catholic leaders

The bishop of Madrid where Opus Dei was born, Leopoldo Eijo y Garay, supported Opus Dei and defended it in the 1940s by saying that "this opus is truly Dei" (this work is truly God's). Contrary to attacks of secrecy and heresy, the bishop described Opus Dei's founder as someone who is "open as a child" and "most obedient to the Church hierarchy."[91]

In 1960, Pope John XXIII commented that Opus Dei opens up "unsuspected horizons of apostolate".[13] Furthermore, in 1964, Pope Paul VI praised the organization in a handwritten letter to Escrivá, saying:

Opus Dei is "a vigorous expression of the perennial youth of the Church, fully open to the demands of a modern apostolate... We look with paternal satisfaction on all that Opus Dei has achieved and is achieving for the kingdom of God, the desire of doing good that guides it, the burning love for the Church and its visible head that distinguishes it, and the ardent zeal for souls that impels it along the arduous and difficult paths of the apostolate of presence and witness in every sector of contemporary life."[13]

The relationship between Paul VI and Opus Dei, according to Alberto Moncada, a doctor of sociology and ex-member, was "stormy".[92] After the Second Vatican Council concluded in 1965, Pope Paul VI denied Opus Dei's petition to become a personal prelature, Moncada stated.[17]

Pope John Paul I, a few years before his election, wrote that Escrivá was more radical than other saints who taught about the universal call to holiness. While others emphasized monastic spirituality applied to lay people, for Escrivá "it is the material work itself which must be turned into prayer and sanctity", thus providing a lay spirituality.[56]

Criticisms against Opus Dei have prompted Catholics like Piers Paul Read[12] and Vittorio Messori to call Opus Dei a sign of contradiction, in reference to the biblical quote of Jesus as a "sign that is spoken against."[93] Said John Carmel Heenan, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster: "One of the proofs of God's favour is to be a sign of contradiction. Almost all founders of societies in the Church have suffered. Monsignor Escrivá de Balaguer is no exception. Opus Dei has been attacked and its motives misunderstood. In this country and elsewhere an inquiry has always vindicated Opus Dei."[94]

Pope John Paul II, who made Opus Dei the first, and so far the only personal prelature

One of Opus Dei's most prominent supporters was Pope John Paul II.[95] John Paul II cited Opus Dei's aim of sanctifying secular activities as a "great ideal." He emphasized that Escrivá's founding of Opus Dei was ductus divina inspiratione, led by divine inspiration, and he granted the organization its status as a personal prelature.[1] Stating that Escrivá is "counted among the great witnesses of Christianity," John Paul II canonized him in 2002, and called him "the saint of ordinary life."[96] Of the organization, John Paul II said:

"[Opus Dei] has as its aim the sanctification of one’s life, while remaining within the world at one’s place of work and profession: to live the Gospel in the world, while living immersed in the world, but in order to transform it, and to redeem it with one’s personal love for Christ. This is truly a great ideal, which right from the beginning has anticipated the theology of the lay state of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar period."[97]

One-third of the world's bishops petitioned for the canonization of Escrivá. During the canonization, there were 42 cardinals and 470 bishops from around the world, general superiors of many orders and religious congregations, and representatives of various Catholic groups. During those days, these Church officials commented on the universal reach and validity of the message of the founder.[11] For his canonization homily, John Paul II said: With the teachings of St. Josemaria, "it is easier to understand what the Second Vatican Council affirmed: 'there is no question, then, of the Christian message inhibiting men from building up the world ... on the contrary it is an incentive to do these very things' (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, n. 34)."[98]

Concerning the groups's role in the Catholic Church, critics have argued that Opus Dei's unique status as a personal prelature gives it too much independence, making it essentially a "church within a church" and that Opus Dei exerts a disproportionately large influence within the Catholic Church itself,[18] as illustrated, for example, by the unusually rapid canonization of Escrivá, which some considered to be irregular.[99] In contrast, Catholic officials say that Church authorities have even greater control of Opus Dei now that its head is a prelate appointed by the Pope,[100] and its status as a prelature "precisely means dependence."[101] Allen says that Escriva's relatively quick canonization does not have anything to do with power but with improvements in procedures and John Paul II's decision to make Escriva's sanctity and message known.[8]

The current pope, Benedict XVI, is also a particularly strong supporter of Opus Dei and of Escrivá. Pointing to the name "Work of God", Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), wrote that "The Lord simply made use of [Escrivá] who allowed God to work." Ratzinger cited Escrivá for correcting the mistaken idea that holiness is reserved to some extraordinary people who are completely different from ordinary sinners: Even if he can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life, a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend, allowing God to work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy.

Ratzinger spoke of Opus Dei's "surprising union of absolute fidelity to the Church’s great tradition, to its faith, and unconditional openness to all the challenges of this world, whether in the academic world, in the field of work, or in matters of the economy, etc."[25] He further explained:

"the theocentrism of Escrivá...means this confidence in the fact that God is working now and we ought only to put ourselves at his disposal...This, for me, is a message of greatest importance. It is a message that leads to overcoming what could be considered the great temptation of our times: the pretense that after the 'Big Bang' God retired from history."[25]

Controversy

Throughout its history, Opus Dei has been criticized from many quarters prompting journalists to describe Opus Dei as "the most controversial force in the Catholic Church" and Escrivá as a "polarizing" figure.[8][10][102]

Aside from the issues related to the Catholic Church, especially the practice of mortification of the flesh, controversies about Opus Dei have centered around criticisms of its alleged secretiveness, its recruiting methods, the rules governing members, alleged elitism, and the alleged right-leaning politics of its members and the alleged participation by some in extreme right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978.[17]

Supporting views

According to several journalists who have worked independently on Opus Dei, such as John Allen, Jr.,[8] Vittorio Messori,[11] Patrice de Plunkett,[103] Maggy Whitehouse,[9] Noam Friedlander[10] many of the criticisms against Opus Dei are myths and unproven tales.[104][105][106] Allen, Messori, and Plunkett say that most of these myths were created by its opponents, with Allen adding that he perceives that Opus Dei members generally practice what they preach.[107][108]

Opus Dei central headquarters in Rome

Allen, Messori, and Plunkett also state that accusations that Opus Dei is secretive are unfounded. These accusations stem from a clerical paradigm which expects Opus Dei members to behave as monks and clerics, people who are traditionally known and externally identifiable as seekers of holiness. In contrast, these journalists continue, Opus Dei's lay members, like any normal Catholic professional, are ultimately responsible for their personal actions, and do not externally represent the organization which provides them religious education. Writer and broadcast analyst John L. Allen, Jr. states that Opus Dei provides abundant information about itself. These journalists have stated that the historic roots of criticisms against Opus Dei can be found in influential clerical circles.[11][109][110]

As to its alleged participation in the Francoist regime, British historians Paul Preston and Brian Crozier state that the Opus Dei members who were Franco's ministers were appointed for their talent and not for their Opus Dei membership.[28][111] Also, there were notable members of Opus Dei who were vocal critics of the Franco Regime such as Rafael Calvo Serer and Antonio Fontan, who was the first Senate President of Spain's democracy. The German historian and Opus Dei member Peter Berglar calls any connection made between Opus Dei and Franco's regime a "gross slander."[5] At the end of Franco's regime, Opus Dei members were 50:50 for and against Franco, according to John Allen.[8] Similarly Álvaro del Portillo, the former Prelate of Opus Dei, said that any statements that Escrivá supported Hitler were "a patent falsehood," that were part of "a slanderous campaign".[112] He and others have stated that Escriva condemned Hitler as a "rogue", a "racist" and a "tyrant".[113] Opus Dei spokespersons also deny claims that Opus Dei members worked with General Pinochet.[10] Various authors state that Escriva was staunchly non-political. Allen wrote that, compared with other Catholic organizations, Opus Dei's stress on freedom and personal responsibility is extraordinarily strong.[8]

While Opus Dei spokepersons have admitted mistakes in dealing with some members and do not, as a rule, contest their grievances,[90][114] supporters have rejected generalizations merely based on negative experiences of some members.[115] Sociologists like Bryan R. Wilson write about some former members of any religious group who may have psychological motivations such as self-justification to criticize their former groups. Wilson states that such individuals are prone to create fictitious "atrocity stories" which have no basis in reality.[116] Many supporters of Opus Dei have expressed the belief that the criticisms of Opus Dei stem from a generalized disapproval of spirituality, Christianity, or Catholicism. Expressing this sentiment, one Opus Dei member, Cardinal Julian Herranz, stated "Opus Dei has become a victim of Christianophobia."[117] Massimo Introvigne, author of an encyclopedia of religion, argues that critics employ the term "cult" in order to intentionally stigmatize Opus Dei because "they could not tolerate 'the return to religion' of the secularized society".[110]

Opus Dei is not "elitist" in the sense in which people often invoke the term, meaning an exclusively white-collar phenomenon, concluded John Allen. He observed that among its members are barbers, bricklayers, mechanics and fruit sellers. Most supernumeraries are living ordinary middle-class lives, he said.[8]

Regarding alleged misogyny, John Allen states that half of the leadership positions in Opus Dei are held by women, and they supervise men.[118] The Catholic Church defends its male priesthood by saying that "the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints."[119]

Critical views

In the English-speaking world, the most vocal critic of Opus Dei is an internet based blogging website calling itself the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN), an organization that exists "to provide education, outreach and support to people who have been adversely affected by Opus Dei." ODAN is headed by Diane DiNicola, mother of a former member, Tammy DiNicola.[120] Other major critics are Maria Carmen del Tapia, an ex-member who was a high-ranking officer of Opus Dei for many years,[121] liberal Catholic theologians such as Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit writer and editor, and supporters of Liberation theology, such as journalist Penny Lernoux and Michael Walsh, a writer on religious matters and former Jesuit.[79][122]

Seal of the Prelature of Opus Dei: "A cross embracing the world"

Critics state that Opus Dei is "intensely secretive"— for example, members generally do not disclose their affiliation with Opus Dei in public, and under the 1950 constitution, members were expressly forbidden to reveal themselves without the permission of their superiors.[15] This practice has led to much speculation about who may be a member.[15] Opus Dei has been accused of deceptive and aggressive recruitment practices such as showering potential members with intense praise ("Love bombing"),[106] instructing numeraries to form friendships and attend social gatherings explicitly for recruiting purposes,[80] and requiring regular written reports from its members about those friends who are potential recruits.[123]

Organisations such as ODAN further allege that Opus Dei maintains an extremely high degree of control over its members— for instance, there used to be a time when numeraries submitted their incoming and outgoing mail to their superiors to read,[124] and members are forbidden to read certain books without permission from their superiors.[124] Critics charge that Opus Dei pressures numeraries to sever contact with non-members, including their own families.[106] Thus, David Clark, who assists people to leave what he calls cults, say that Opus Dei is "very cult-like".[106]

Critics assert that Escrivá and the organization supported the governments of Augusto Pinochet,[125] and Alberto Fujimori of Peru during the 1990s,[126] both of which allegedly included members of Opus Dei amongst their ministers and prominent supporters. There have also been allegations that Escrivá expressed sympathy for Adolf Hitler.[127][128] One former Opus Dei priest, Vladimir Felzmann, who has become a vocal Opus Dei critic, says that Escrivá once remarked that Hitler had been "badly treated" by the world and he further declared that "Hitler couldn't have been such a bad person. He couldn't have killed six million [Jews]. It couldn't have been more than four million."[129][130][131]

Opus Dei is also accused of elitism, of targeting "the intellectual elite, the well-to-do, and the socially prominent."[132] As a part of the Roman Catholic Church, Opus Dei has been open to the same criticisms as Catholicism in general— for example female members of Opus Dei cannot become priests or prelates.[133]

Based on his critical study of Opus Dei, the journalist John Allen, Jr. wrote that Opus Dei should (1) be more transparent, (2) collaborate with monks and nuns who belong to religious orders, and (3) encourage its members to air out in public their criticisms of the institution.[8]

Other views

Sociologists Peter Berger and Samuel Huntington suggest that Opus Dei is involved in "a deliberate attempt to construct an alternative modernity," one that engages modern culture while at the same time is resolutely loyal to Catholic traditions.[134] Van Biema of Time magazine emphasises Opus Dei's Spanish roots as a source of misunderstandings in the Anglo-Saxon world, and suggests that as the United States becomes more Hispanic, controversies about Opus Dei (and similar Catholic organizations) will decrease.[15]

In her 2006 book on Opus Dei, Maggy Whitehouse, a non-Catholic journalist, argues that the relative autonomy of each director and center has resulted in mistakes at the local level. She recommends greater consistency and transparency for Opus Dei, which she sees as having learned the lesson of greater openness when it faced the issues raised by The Da Vinci Code and other critics.[9]

Opus Dei in popular culture

  • In the 1997 novel The Genesis Code by John Case, the leader of Opus Dei is portrayed as the novel's antagonist. In the novel, Opus Dei members are sent on a mission to execute children who were conceived using genetically engineered oocytes.
  • Since 2003, Opus Dei has received world attention as a result of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code and the 2006 film based on the novel. In The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei is portrayed as a Catholic organization that is led into a sinister international conspiracy.[135] In general, The Da Vinci Code has been sharply criticized for its numerous factual inaccuracies, and its theory has been debunked by a wide array of scholars and historians.[136][137] According to the Anglican Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Dr Tom Wright, the novel is a "great thriller" but "lousy history".[138] For example, the major villain in The Da Vinci Code is a monk who is a member of Opus Dei — but in reality there are no monks in Opus Dei.[44] The Da Vinci Code implies that Opus Dei is the Pope's personal prelature — but the term "personal prelature" does not refer to a special relationship to the Pope: It means an institution in which the jurisdiction of the prelate is not linked to a geographic territory but over persons, wherever they be.[63] Nonetheless, Brown stated that his portrayal of Opus Dei was based on interviews with members and ex-members, and books about Opus Dei.[139] An Opus Dei spokesman questioned this statement.[140]
  • A Franco-Belgian comic book (bande dessinée) on the life of Escriva was published by Coccinelle BD in 2005. The title is Through the mountains, in reference to Escriva's escape from the Republican zone through the mountains of Andorra during the Spanish Civil War.[141]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Pope John Paul II. "Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit, Establishing Opus Dei as the first Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church". http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CBISUTSI.HTM. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  2. ^ "Address of John Paul II in Praise of St. Josemaría, Founder of Opus Dei". http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2002/october/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20021007_opus-dei_en.html. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  3. ^ "Decoding secret world of Opus Dei". BBC News. 2005-09-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4249444.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  4. ^ Bill Tammeus (2005-10-19). "Bishop confirms connection to group". Kansas City Star. http://www.rickross.com/reference/opus/opus60.html. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  mirrored on RickRoss.com
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Peter Berglar (1994). "Opus Dei: Life and Works of its Founder". EWTN. Scepter. http://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/ESCRIVA.ZIP. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  6. ^ a b "Opus Dei". BBC Religion and Ethics. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/opusdei.shtml. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  7. ^ Terry Mattingly. "`Da Vinci Code' mania opened up Opus Dei". Alburquerque Tribune. http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2007/mar/24/terry-mattingly-da-vinci-code-mania-opened-opus-de/. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l John Allen (2005). Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. Doubleday Religion. 
  9. ^ a b c Maggy Whitehouse (2006). Opus Dei: The Truth Behind the Myth. Hermes House. 
  10. ^ a b c d Noam Friedlander. "What Is Opus Dei? Tales of God, Blood, Money and Faith". http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article575959.ece. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Messori, Vittorio (1997). Opus Dei, Leadership and Vision in Today's Catholic Church. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0-89526-450-1. 
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  117. ^ Julian Cardinal Herranz, quoted in Javier Espinoza. "Opus Dei is not a Sect". OhmyNews. http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=279810&rel_no=1. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  118. ^ Julia Baird (2006). "Tall tale ignites an overdue debate". http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/tall-tale-ignites-an-overdue-debate/2006/05/17/1147545387121.html?page=2. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  119. ^ Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Approved for Publication by His Holiness Pope Paul VI (1976). "Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (Inter Insigniores)". http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/teach/inteinsi.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  120. ^ "The Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN)". ODAN.org. http://www.odan.org/. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
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  125. ^ Deborah Kovach. "Princeton Catholic Divided". The Trenton Times. http://www.odan.org/media_princeton_catholics.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  126. ^ Allen, John, Jr. Opus Dei, The Truth about its Rituals, Secrets and Power, 2005, Penguin Books, ISBN0-141-02465-8, pp 287-290
  127. ^ Barry James (1992-04-14). "Rocky Road to Sainthood for a 'Choleric' Cleric". International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/1992/04/14/sain.php. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  128. ^ Ron Grossman (2003-12-06). "Catholics scrutinize enigmatic, strict Opus Dei.". Chicago Tribune. 
  129. ^ Damian Thompson (2005-01-18). "A creepy scrape with the Da Vinci Code set". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2005/01/18/bbdavi16.xml&sSheet=/arts/2005/01/18/ixartleft.html. 
  130. ^ Kenneth L. Woodward (1992-01-13). "Opus Dei Prepares to Stand By Its Man". Newsweek. 
  131. ^ Robert Hutchinson (1999). Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei. Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 15. ISBN 0-312-19344-0. 
  132. ^ Paul Baumann (1997-08-10). "The Way of the Faithful". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/reviews/beyondthethreshold.htm. 
  133. ^ Craig Offman (December 2003). "Thank you Lord, may I have another?". GQ Magazine. http://home.netcom.com/~mjr40/od/gq.html. 
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  137. ^ Ehrman, Bart (2004-11-01). Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0195181401. 
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  141. ^ "L’Opus Dei adepte de BD". Univers BD: Magazine d'actualité de la bande dessinée. 2007-12-31. http://www.universbd.com/spip.php?breve1299. 
  142. ^ "Opus Dei founder gets 'The Mission' treatment". America Magazine. 2009-07-16. http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=43282913-3048-741E-5441352727319255. 
  143. ^ "Roland Joffee filming Opus Dei pic". The Hollywood Reporter. 2009-08-26. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3ia3f0e0ee831a6936dd0723f09a3e454b. 

Further reading

  • Allen, John, Jr. (2005). Opus Dei: an Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, Doubleday Religion. ISBN 0-385-51449-2 — Online excerpts: Opus Dei: An Introduction, Chapter I: A Quick Overview of Opus Dei, Chapter 7: Opus Dei and Secrecy
  • Berglar, Peter (1994). Opus Dei. Life and Work of its Founder. Scepter. — online here
  • Estruch, Joan (1995). Saints and Schemers: Opus Dei and its paradoxes. — online Spanish version here
  • Friedlander, Noam (2005). "What Is Opus Dei? Tales of God, Blood, Money and Faith" Collins & Brown. ISBN 1843402882. ISBN 978-1843402886. — a book review titled "A Wholesome Reality Hides Behind A Dark Conspiracy"
  • Hahn, Scott (2006). Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei. Random House Double Day Religion. ISBN 978-0-385-51924-3 — online excerpt of Chapter One here
  • Introvigne, Massimo (May 1994). "Opus Dei and the Anti-cult Movement". Cristianità, 229, p. 3-12 — online here
  • John Paul II. Sacred Congregation for Bishops. (23 August 1982). Vatican Declaration on Opus Dei. — online here
  • Luciani, Albino Cardinal (John Paul I) (25 July 1978). "Seeking God through everyday work". Il Gazzettino Venice. — online here
  • Martin, James, S.J. (25 February 1995). "Opus Dei in the United States". America Magazine. — online here
  • Messori, Vittorio (1997). Opus Dei, Leadership and Vision in Today's Catholic Church. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0-89526-450-1.  — online version here
  • O'Connor, William. Opus Dei: An Open Book. A Reply to "The Secret World of Opus Dei" by Michael Walsh, Mercier Press, Dublin, 1991 — online here
  • Oates, MT, et al. (2009). Women of Opus Dei: In Their Own Words. Crossroad Publishing Company. ISBN 082452425X.
  • Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal (Benedict XVI) (9 October 2002). "St. Josemaria: God is very much at work in our world today". L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, p. 3. — online here
  • Schall, James, S.J. (Aug-September 1996). "Of Saintly Timber". Homiletic and Pastoral Review. — review of Estruch's work, online here
  • Shaw, Russel (1994). Ordinary Christians in the World. Office of Communications, Prelature of Opus Dei in the US. — online here
  • Walsh, Michael (1989). Opus Dei: An Investigation Into the Secret Society Struggling For Power Within the Catholic Church. New York, New York: HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 230 w/Index. ISBN 0-06-069268-5. 

External links

Opus Dei Official sites

Sites supporting Opus Dei

Sites critical of Opus Dei


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see discussion on the talk page.

Opus Dei formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, is an organization of the Roman Catholic Church that teaches the Catholic belief that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity.

Contents

Civil leaders

  • Bearing a secret sword of goodness and truth, Opus Dei is the most important spiritual movement of our time.
  • Amidst the cynicism and materialism of our time, it is impossible not to be heartened by Opus Dei's dedication to cultivating the potential spiritual and practical gift of every person and every occupation.
    • Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
  • Opus Dei is dedicated to the peculiarly modern mission of sanctifying life - and especially work - in the world. The very title, which means the work of God, captures the essence of this mission.
    • Elizabeth Fox-Genovese [1]
  • I am convinced that the wake left by Msgr. Esciva de Balaguer is more profound, more lasting, and above all more luminous and salvific than what we the greater part of his contemporaries can imagine. His role in the economy of salvation is preeminent. Immersed in a 20th century which is incredulous and cold, he has known to set the world on fire: Ignem veni mittere in terram...He has contributed to the life of the Church a new impulse, a new youth, opening wide the door of sanctity to the laity. It is impossible to exhaust the richness of the contribution of Msgr. Escriva to the Church.
    • Gustave Thibon
  • Opus Dei plays an extremely important role in the Church today. Its mission of helping people find holiness in their work is a very important one. It also provides spiritual direction and inspiration to many people of all ages, both Catholics and non-Catholics. I have the highest regard for the work and members of Opus Dei.
    • Evelyn Birge Vitz, Statement, February 16, 2004.
  • On the surface Spanish society appears very secular, but in the twentieth century Spain gave birth to one of the most successful reform movements in contemporary Christendom, Opus Dei. My sense is that there is more to be hoped for from such radical and disciplined forms of Christian renewal than from praise bands and casually dressed clergy.
    • Robert Louis Wilken, [2]
  • The work of Escrivá de Balaguer, will undoubtedly mark the 21st century. This is a prudent and reasonable wager. Do not pass close to this contemporary without paying him close attention.
    • Pierre Chanu(Vue Culturell, 5-6 February 1983)
  • The Christian West cannot exist without the Christian East, and vice versa. That is why Pope John Paul II spoke about the “two lungs of Europe.” Escrivá, in proclaiming the idea of a “Christian materialism,” unites the two lungs. He spiritualizes matter, understood in the West in so pragmatic a way, and he materializes the spirit, which is too spiritualized in the East. That’s why I say that the teaching of Josemaría Escrivá is inherently ecumenical.
    • Evgeni Pazukhin
  • In my experience, the activities of Opus Dei are better organized, more unobtrusively hospitable, and more clearly thought through than are those of any other organization, religious or secular, known to me. In a church that lately has often mistaken incoherence for simplicity and disorder for spontaneity, Opus Dei breathes a refreshingly competent spirit. The Work, quite clearly, works.” “Opus Dei members seem to me as healthy, non-fanatical, and ordinary as any average group of Catholics who take their spiritual lives seriously. The young people in particular seem both happy and happy to have found a solidly Catholic group that encourages them to live good lives in the world of today.
    • Robert Royal
  • What happens in the Church always has repercussions in the world, and vice versa. It seems that the world perpetually feels the need for a sinister Catholic entity towards which it can direct its more general anti-Catholicism. The Jesuits in their heyday did nicely for that purpose. Now that they have, for the most part, become hard to distinguish from the Zeitgeist, it was probably inevitable that another Catholic scapegoat be found. Spanish in origin, ambitious in its disciplines, unusual in its organization, above all successful, and clearly destined to play a major role in the future of the Church, Opus Dei was a perfect candidate for the honor.
    • Robert Royal, “God’s Work,” First Things, May 1998.
  • [Opus Dei] is one of the Church’s most active and effective instruments of evangelization and renewal.
    • Matthew Bunson, From EWTN Catholic Q&A, May 1, 2003.
  • Now we have a saint for workers!
  • Opus Dei seeks to open the eyes of all mankind to the nature of holiness; it is precisely the spirituality needed in our times.
    • Charles H. Malik
  • I found it very moving and inspiring to see a humble priest proclaimed a saint in the presence of hundreds of thousands of people. I think the message is clear: when people are living their lives in a manner where they are fulfilling their responsibilities, being good husbands, sons or daughters, they are doing something very important in God’s eyes. You don’t have to be a rock star or an athlete to live your life right.”
    • James Nicholson, Statement made at the canonization of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, on October 6, 2002.
  • Having spent the greater part of my life working in the business world, I am conscious of the need to 'place Christ on top of all human activities,' as Msgr. Escriva put it, so that men and women in every honest working activity can come to know, love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Thomas A. Murphy

Catholic leaders

Popes

John XXIII lauded Opus Dei and said on 5 March 1960 that it opens up "unsuspected horizons of apostolate."

Paul VI said that the Work is "an expression of the perennial youth of the Church, fully open to the exigencies of a modern apostolate." (Handwritten letter to Msgr. Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer, 1 October 1964)

John Paul I said just before the start of his brief papacy that Escrivá's teachings are "radical; he goes as far as talking about "materializing" --in a good sense-- the quest for holiness. For him, it is the material work itself which must be turned into prayer and sanctity." [3]

John Paul II: “[Opus Dei] has as its aim the sanctification of one’s life, while remaining within the world at one’s place of work and profession: to live the Gospel in the world, while living immersed in the world, but in order to transform it, and to redeem it with one’s personal love for Christ. This is truly a great ideal, which right from the beginning has anticipated the theology of the lay state, which is a characteristic mark of the Church of the Council and after the Council.” L’Osservatore Romano, August 27, 1979. [4] He established Opus Dei as a Personal Prelature in 1982 and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in 1990, and canonized its founder in 2002.

John Paul II: “With very great hope, the Church directs its attention and maternal care to Opus Dei, which -- by divine inspiration --the Servant of God Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer founded in Madrid on October 2, 1928, so that it may always be an apt and effective instrument of the salvific mission which the Church carries out for the life of the world. From its beginnings, this Institution has in fact striven, not only to illuminate with new lights the mission of the laity in the Church and in society, but also to put it into practice.” Ut Sit, November 1982 (the apostolic constitution by which Opus Dei was made a personal prelature of the Catholic Church in accord with Code of Canon Law sections 294-97).

John Paul II: "In the 65 years since its foundation, the Prelature of Opus Dei, an indissoluble unity of priests and lay people, has contributed to making Christ's saving message resound in many walks of life. As Pastor of the universal Church, echoes of this apostolate reach me. I encourage all the members of the Prelature of Opus Dei to persevere in this work, in faithful continuity with the spirit of service to the Church which always inspired the life of your founder." Address to Theological Study Convention on the Teaching of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, October 14, 1993.

Benedict XVI, three years before becoming Pope, said "the theocentrism of Escrivá...means this confidence in the fact that God is working now and we ought only to put ourselves at his disposal...This, for me, is a message of greatest importance. It is a message that leads to overcoming what could be considered the great temptation of our times: the pretense that after the 'big bang' God retired from history."

Cardinals and bishops

Many Cardinals and bishops support Opus Dei. According to Messori, one-third of the bishops around the world petitioned for the canonization of Escriva, an unprecedented number, he says.

Here are some examples of the comments of some of the Cardinals. Franz Cardinal König, Archbishop of Vienna, who, according to Messori "is considered one of the leaders of the so-called "progressive current," wrote in 1975:

"The magnetic force of Opus Dei probably comes from its profoundly lay spirituality. At the very beginning, in 1928, Msgr. Escriva anticipated the return to the Patrimony of the Church brought by the Second Vatican Council. For those who have followed him, Escriva has recalled with much clarity what the position of the Christian is in the midst of the world. This is opposed to all false spiritualism which amounts to a negation of the central truth of Christianity: faith in the Incarnation."
"The profound humanity of the founder of Opus Dei reflected the shape of our epoch. But his charisma, by which he was chosen to realize a work of God, projected that work into the future. He was able to anticipate the great themes of the Church's pastoral aciton in the dawn of the third millennnium of her history."
In La Vanguardia, 8 January 2002, he wrote: "Escrivá was aware that there were two separate worlds which coexisted, the religious life and professional life, which should in fact walk together. What he preached then was an absolute novelty. But, even if these ideas are now found in the documents of the Magisterium of the Church, it is still being received slowly. As always, when a new thing comes up, a certain scepticism immediately appears....It is not easy to be understood by people who entertain negative doubts."

Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, archbishop emeritus of Milan, S.J., called the "up-to-date and human face of the Church", says:

"The spiritual fecundity of Msgr. Escriva has something of the incredible in it...Someone who writes and speaks as he does manifests to himself and others a sincere, genuine sanctity."

Sebastiano Cardinal Baggio, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote a month after the death of Escriva: "We who are his contemporaries do not have the necessary perspective to properly evaluate the historical weight and range of the doctrine, in many aspects revolutionary and ahead of the times and of the incomparably effective pastoral activity and influence of this remarkable man of the Church. But it is evident even today that the life, achiements, and message of the founder of Opus Dei constitutes an about-face, or more exactly a new original chapter in the history of Christian spirituality." Rome, 27 July 1975.

Ugo Cardinal Polleti, in the Decree Introducing the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Msgr. Escriva, 1981: "For having proclaimed the universal call to holiness since he founded Opus Dei in 1928, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, has been unanimously recognized as the precursor of precisely what constitutes the fundamental nucleus of the Church's magisterium, a message of such fruitfulness in the life of the Church.

Joseph Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne from 1942-1967, wrote to Paul VI and described the founder of Opus Dei as a pioneer of lay spirituality who had clearly perceived the necessities and dangers of the times, and predicted that the Work would be of decisive importance for the future of the Church. (Berglar, p. 189)

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, addressing a packed Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, referred to Msgr. Escriva's message and commented:

"It is essential to the vocation of Christians in the world that they carry on Christ's mission in and through their involvement in the secular order, contributing to its sanctification, to the restoration of all things in Christ...Msgr. Escriva was an innovator, but he also stood firmly and squarely with the Christian tradition. His message was a call to return daily to the roots of the Christian way of life and to live it creatively and courageously in our contemporary world."

John Cardinal O'Connor:

“I believe it critical to dispel the notion, a notion with which you are familiar, which borders on calumny, that Opus Dei is concerned only about the wealthy and the well educated…. I wish the myth about Opus Dei could be expelled forever. I want it to be clear to all of you that I consider the Archdiocese of New York to be privileged by your presence.” From a homily given at St. Patrick's Cathedral, June 26, 1998.
"The kind of life Opus Dei offers as an ideal is the life of holiness to which everyone is called." [5]

Camillo Cardinal Ruini, Milan June 1992:

"The message --with such intense evangelical flavor--of Blessed Josemaria Escriva is without doubt among those which has given new dynamism to the Mission of the Church."

John Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster:

"One of the proofs of God's favour is to be a sign of contradiction. Almost all founders of societies in the Church have suffered. Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer is no exception. Opus Dei has been attacked and its motives misunderstood. In this country and elsewhere an inquiry has always vindicated Opus Dei."

Edward Cardinal Egan (New York):

"It is with great pleasure that I express my appreciation for the work of Opus Dei here in the Archdiocese of New York for over forty years. Whether through programs for the needy in our inner-city or through spiritual counseling in retreats and individual spiritual direction, Opus Dei has encouraged, and continues to encourage, the faithful to live the Gospel where they find themselves in the world, in their families and in their place of work." May 3, 2004.

Bishop Wilton Gregory (President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):

"I consider my many Opus Dei friends a wonderful gift to my episcopal service in the Church. I respect and admire the many activities in which Opus Dei serves the needs of the Church and advances the work of evangelization and the sanctification of God's People." April 3, 2004.

Bishop Joseph Fiorenza (Galveston-Houston):

“I have been associated with Opus Dei for twenty years and can testify that the priests and members are fully dedicated to living the gospel by integrating its message into their daily work. They incarnate the universal call to holiness in their teaching and pastoral care. Their mission is to help those whom they serve to live holy and faith-filled lives. The Opus Dei priests and members are faithful to the teachings of the Church and to the Popes and Bishops. Their fidelity is a strength for the Church but at times is viewed as negative and suspicious by those who do not understand such fidelity to God and the Church. The Diocese of Galveston-Houston is blessed to have Opus Dei staff our downtown chapel and minister to the workforce and shoppers in that area. Their work is well-received and greatly appreciated.” December 29, 2003.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver):

“Opus Dei has always encouraged active lay leadership and service among Catholics. It prefigured some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council by decades. Its members are motivated, faithful Catholics and an extraordinary blessing for the believing community. Opus Dei – along with the other new charisms, communities, and movements renewing today’s Church – is very welcome in the Archdiocese of Denver.” December 20, 2003.

William Cardinal Keeler (Baltimore):

“The church and the world need the message of holiness in ordinary life preached by St. Josemaría.” From a homily at a Mass for St. Josemaría Escrivá’s first feast day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on June 25, 2003.

Archbishop John Myers (Newark):

“How difficult it is for this consciousness of the call to holiness to sink into our minds and act upon our wills. I think that is why, among so many worthy institutions, old and new, God wanted Opus Dei.” From a homily at a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Josemaría at St. Mary Major in Rome on October 8, 2002.

Cardinal Justin Rigali (Philadelphia):

“I see Opus Dei throughout the world really trying to fulfill the first pastoral guideline outlined by the Holy Father John Paul II in his apostolic letter on the New Millennium: the search for personal holiness…. Looking at the work of Opus Dei in this Archdiocese I would like to express my gratitude to the women and men of the Prelature for their loyal service and continual apostolate according to the spirit of their Founder.” From a homily at a Mass in celebration of the Centennial of St. Josemaría’s birth, at Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis on January 12, 2002.

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo (Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the United States):

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Msgr. Escrivá, we could give him no greater gift than to follow the great way and teaching that he has given to the church.” From a homily at a Mass for the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. Josemaría Escrivá at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on January 12, 2002.

Francis Cardinal George (Chicago):

“The spirituality of [Saint] Josemaría is a true Christian humanism. For Opus Dei respects every area of human endeavor: the life of the mind and life of the heart and the life of the hand.” From a homily at a Mass for the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. Josemaría at St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, January 9, 2002.

James Cardinal Hickey (Washington): “The members of the Work [Opus Dei] have found a way of really making their work something joyful, something that you want to be a part of.” From an interview, September 9, 1998.

Msgr. Paul Yoshiyuki Furuya, Bishop of Kyoto, 1975: "I have no doubt that Josemaria Escriva was a man specially chosen by God to maintain the fidelity of many Christians during these troubled years in the Church and in society."

Msgr. Willy Onclin, dean of the Faculty of Canon Law (Louvain University), and secretary of the pontifical Commission for the Review of the Code of Canon Law:

"It is impossible to exhaust the rich contributios made by Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer to the Church. Schools, universities, centres for workers or countryfolk, social projects of every kind have been established everywhere thanks to his enterprise. But the 'revaluation' of the layman's role, assigning to him the autonomy and responsibility that are his by the fact of being baptized, well deserves a whole chapter to itself." ('La Libre', Belgique, Lovaine, July 2, 1975)

Msgr. Ugo Puccini, Bishop of Santa Marta (Colombia), El País (Cali, Colombia),June 25, 1990:

"Today Opus Dei is known in the whole Church, as a beloved part of Her, which has made Opus Dei a personal Prelature, putting into practice for the first time this juridical figure which the Second Vatican Council instituted for the improvement of the apostolate of the Church."

Pierre Mamie, bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg:

"In our preceding discussions with the Opus Dei I reminded them to be attentive to the traditions and the "local religious culture". For the Opus Dei, which has some great merits I cannot deny, did look too often, with us and in other places, like an "imported" religious movement. It would win by being "more transparent" in all its intentions, ressources and activities. Moreover, if the Opus Dei wants to create a foundation and a centre in our diocese, it should answer to certain objections which were made in these days, so everything can develop in peace."(Evangile et mission, 22 june 1989) (French)

During his centennial in 2002, many bishops spoke about St. Josemaria and Opus Dei:

Francis Eugene Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago, USA. St. Mary of the Angels Church, Chicago, January 9:

"A hundred years ago today, Josemaría Escrivá was born—a man who fell in love with the Lord, whom he recognized in faith as our Savior and the Savior of the world, a man who was called by Jesus to the work of a preacher of God’s Word, and a fisherman—an evangelizer."

Cahal Cardinal Daly, archbishop emeritus of Armagh, Ireland. Church of the Holy Rosary, Dublin, January 9:

"The truths brought out by Josemaría Escrivá are as old as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet as new as the so-called post-modern age of the new millennium. They are wide-ranging, but one may single out some of the core principles. Josemaría reiterated the New Testament teaching that every Christian, in virtue of his or her baptism, is called to be a saint."
"Josemaría, indeed, often spoke daringly and unconventionally, to emphasise this point. He spoke, for example, of the need to 'materialize' the quest for holiness; one might say, the need to 'earth' holiness in ordinary tasks, whether these be what are called 'menial' tasks, or more esoteric careers in, say, cosmic physics or biochemical research."

Archbishop George Pell of Sydney, Australia. St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, January 4:

"Blessed Josemaría worked to help people know God more and better. For him, the work of Opus Dei was a great catechesis. Catechesis is what he did all his life, with a skill that brought to doctrine the newness of the Gospel, which is always old and always new (Mt. 13:52)."
"Blessed Josemaría considered himself an 'inept and deaf instrument', saw himself when an old man 'as a stammering child'. I pray to the good God that he will raise up among us many other men and women, who are equally inept and deaf, and who allow God to work in and through them as He wishes."

Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver, Canada. Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, January 9:

"The saints are not people who plan and map out for themselves a way of life and perfection, and carry it out to the letter by themselves. Saints are rather people who love and trust God so much that they are willing to let God lead and direct them wherever He wishes them to go.… Blessed Josemaría was willing to let God lead him and shape his life. Throughout his life, the theme of his prayer was 'May that which you want and I do not know, come about.'"

Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor presided at a commemorative mass in Westminster Cathedral, London, on January 16:

"I deeply feel that Blessed Josemaría is a special gift to the Church and to the world of our times. I believe that his charism is particularly relevant for our world of today."

Jaime Cardinal Sin, archbishop of Manila, The Philippines. Cathedral of Manila, January 9:

"But perhaps more important than these and the many other physical miracles, are the countless interior conversions attributed to his intercession. So many people were moved by Blessed Josemaría's message of discovering God in the ordinary circumstances of life. Blessed Josemaría is indeed a powerful intercessor before God - I encourage you to turn to him for your spiritual and material needs."

Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger archbishop of Paris, France. Church Saint-Honoré d' Eylau, Paris, January 8.

"Josemaría Escrivá is one of those figures that crosses the centuries and indicates in some way, to the attentive observer, what the Spirit is carrying out in the Church. It would be possible to say that in the past century God has stirred up men and women —such as Escrivá and many others— who anticipated what the Spirit would make clear in Vatican Council II. The precise task that Providence entrusted to Blessed Josemaría coincides with one of these messages: to find in work a calling of holiness for all Christian people."

Archbishop Kaname Shimamoto of Nagasaki, Japan. Cathedral of Nagasaki, January 9.

"The best congratulation we can give to Blessed Josemaría on the centennial of his birth is making the resolution to follow his spirituality with fidelity. We can also endeavor to inspire an awareness of God in the depths of the conscience of today's society, in that of our contemporaries. In other words: let us manifest our purpose of dedicating ourselves to the new evangelization."

Frédéric Cardinal Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo. Cathedral of Our Lady of Congo, Kinshasa, January 9.

"The centennial of Blessed Josemaría's birth occurs in a time of conflict in the world, and particularly in our country. Violence and division are frequently caused by intolerance and rejection of difference. It would behoove us to discover and live Blessed Josemaría's message: a constant call to learn to live and work together, without regard for race, ethnicity, religion, social status, political views.... On the occasion of this anniversary, we ask God to grant us, through the intercession of Blessed Josemaría, peace for our souls, peace for our country, peace for the Church and, finally, peace for the world."

Miguel Cardinal Obando Bravo, archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua. Cathedral of Managua, January 9.

"The emphasis on doctrine in Opus Dei's apostolate has always impressed me. Opus Dei's work is in truth a continuous catechesis, a noble task of spreading good doctrine. Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer always followed Jesus' example of doing and teaching. The imprint of his personality has left a deep furrow in the life of the Church: across the world, his words and deeds have stirred up a renewed Christian spirit, expressing itself as service to others with authentic and practical charity."

Adrianus Johannes Cardinal Simonis, archbishop of Utrecht, The Netherlands. Gerardus Majella Church, Utrecht, January 19.

"The distinguishing features of the parents can be seen in the children. With his spiritual children, the faithful of Opus Dei, Josemaría Escrivá has been able to speak several times over. In this sense I am able to say that have known the founder through his children in Opus Dei. In them –priests and laity– I see a desire for holiness and apostolate."

Giacomo Cardinal Biffi archbishop of Bologna, Italy. Cathedral of Bologna, January 9.

"The human, Christian, and priestly adventure of his life —an adventure both extraordinary and direct— is framed entirely by the 20th century. If we learn to interpret events with the penetrating vision of faith, it is not difficult to see in this marvelous existence the merciful answer of God to the harsh interrogations of one of the most tragic and most complicated centuries of history."

Audrys Juozas Cardinal Backis, archbishop of Vilnius, Lithuania. Cathedral of Vilnius, January 9.

"The saints are friends of God, that is to say, our friends. They help and they advise, they bless us from heaven and they fortify us in our weaknesses. They especially show us the way with their example. Blessed Josemaría is rightly famous for his book The Way, which many people cherish and in which many find strength and beautiful reflections on Christian life in the middle of the world."

László Cardinal Paskai, archbishop of Estergom-Budapest, Hungary. Matyas-Templon, Budapest, January 9.

"We have heard in the Gospel the words of Jesus: 'Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch.' The Holy Father placed his emphasis on these same words at the end of the Holy Year in his apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte. His desire was that we would not return after the enthusiasm of the jubilee to the gray of every day, but that we would instead have inside us the enthusiasm of the apostle Saint Paul, who wrote of himself: 'I strain forward to what is before, I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.'"
"This evangelical teaching of Jesus, these proposals of the Holy Father, were fulfilled in an extraordinary way in the life of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei's founder. He was an outstanding sacerdotal personality of the twentieth century, who throughout his life worked for the spiritual renewal of the Church. His beatification on May 17, 1992, was the recognition of his holiness of life."

Antonio José Cardinal González Zumárraga archbishop of Quito, Ecuador. Cathedral of Quito, January 9.

"Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, in fulfilling the mission God entrusted to him, contributed to the spiritual renewal of the Church – teaching and spreading the doctrine of the universal call to holiness, of the sanctifying value of work and of the calling of the faithful Christian to do apostolate."

Antonio María Cardinal Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, Cathedral of the Almudena, Madrid, January 9.

"The history of the saints is the history of 'Christ who passes by' – to use a beautiful phrase from one of the books of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Let us 'be' Christ as he passes through the times and spaces of history…. This is true of Opus Dei's founder. Through him and his Work, Christ passes through history again in our time, through the history of the twentieth century. We give thanks to the Lord for him, and we ask that if God wants, the day will arrive this year – the sooner the better – when the Church will finally travel the canonical road to recognition of Blessed Josemaría's holiness. May the Lord grant that the Prelature, its priests and faithful, and all the Church will celebrate this event in a way that makes him visible among us again as Christ who passes by."


Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Canberra. 26 June 2003, at St Mary Star of the Sea, West Melbourne:

"What St Josemaría knew in the depths of his being, as all the saints before him have known, is that the Word is made flesh and dwells among us. Escrivá was and is one of the greatest of contemporary witnesses to the Incarnation — it’s as simple and magnificent as that. He was raised by God as that kind of witness at a time when the Incarnation, the fact of the Word made flesh, was being denied implicitly and pervasively as it is today, a time when people felt in their hearts, as they still feel today, that the Word was not made flesh, that God remains in some distant heaven far from the ordinary business of human work, human family, the mess of human affairs. This leads inevitably to a sense that you have to deny or escape from your human affairs in order to find the life of God who is spirit. That’s what I mean when I speak of the denial of the Incarnation, and that’s why the witness of St Josemaría goes to the heart of an enduring contemporary crisis."

Archbishop Christopher Pierre, nuncio to Uganda. Christ the King Church, Kampala, January 9.

"We are grateful to God for the existence of Blessed Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei. We are grateful for his life, for what he has offered us – a big challenge! Remember what the Pope said at the beginning of his pontificate: 'Do not be afraid, do not be afraid of the call to holiness.' This call to holiness is for me, for you, for each one of us. We are all invited to be members of God's family; we are all invited to enter into the Church, and to be active members of this Church, the living presence of God in our lives, in this world: do not be afraid to be called to holiness."

Józef Cardinal Glemp presided at a commemorative mass in St. John the Baptist cathedral in Warsaw

"Like Blessed Juan Diego and so many of our sisters and brothers who enjoy eternal beatitude, Blessed Josemaría joins a diverse crowd of saints who are not special people – super-men – but ordinary and normal beings like us, distinguishing themselves only in having been faithful instruments of God."

Archbishop Józef Zyciñski of Lublin, Poland Cathedral of Lublin, January 9.

"Sanctifying work, sanctifying oneself through work and sanctifying others through work – this has been Blessed Josemaría's primary message. And these are not merely pretty words; he practiced them in his own life. Just as Christ not only spoke of the Cross but, above all, died on the Cross for us, so our Blessed not only spoke of holiness in work but carried it out in his life, being holy and sanctifying others."

Bishop Armindo Lopes Coelho of Oporto, Portugal. Trinity Church, Oporto, January 9.

"In celebrating the centennial of Blessed Josemaría's birth – 'duc in altum!' (Put out into the deep!). Holiness should be your ideal. Our providential God will open before you the way of happiness and optimism on the path to holiness. Be not afraid. The Teacher goes in front of us and he says continuously: duc in altum! Have hope, you are a son of God, be not afraid. Strive, dare…. In celebrating the birth of the Blessed, we give thanks to God for his life, writings, work, and example. We ask him to intercede for us before God."

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Henrici, S.J., of Zurich, Liebfrauenkirche, January 10.

"I have said that I consider Blessed Josemaría one of the most important figures of Catholicism in the twentieth century, and I owe an explanation. Blessed Josemaría was one of the first ... to recognize the importance of the laity in the Church. And he proposed a spirituality appropriate for the specific needs of the laity. In this he was a pioneer.... In fact, he has had the merit and also the grace of being probably the first one traveling this road. We pray therefore that his Work may continue to be guided by his spirit, and that many laity may find their vocation in daily life."

Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius of Kaunas, Lithuania. Cathedral of Kaunas, January 8.

"This year marks the beginning of Opus Dei's work in Kaunas, which I have received with great happiness and pleasure. My hope is that Opus Dei will bring the benefits of holiness that come to all the countries where the Prelature works. I am convinced that the Catholic Church in Lithuania needs the spirit of Blessed Josemaría that is embodied in his children, who uphold the authentic Magisterium of the Church…. The faithful of Opus Dei, fulfilling the desire of their Founder and following in his steps, grasp the essence of and faithfully respond to the invitation of His Holiness John Paul II – 'Put out into the deep!'"

Edward Michael Cardinal Egan

"It is with great pleasure that I express my appreciation for the work of Opus Dei here in the Archdiocese of New York for over forty years. Whether through programs for the needy in our inner-city or through spiritual counseling in retreats and individual spiritual direction, Opus Dei has encouraged, and continues to encourage, the faithful to live the Gospel where they find themselves in the world, in their families and in their place of work." May 3, 2004.

Bishop Wilton Gregory (President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):

"I consider my many Opus Dei friends a wonderful gift to my episcopal service in the Church. I respect and admire the many activities in which Opus Dei serves the needs of the Church and advances the work of evangelization and the sanctification of God's People." April 3, 2004.

Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver):

“Opus Dei has always encouraged active lay leadership and service among Catholics. It prefigured some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council by decades. Its members are motivated, faithful Catholics and an extraordinary blessing for the believing community. Opus Dei – along with the other new charisms, communities, and movements renewing today’s Church – is very welcome in the Archdiocese of Denver.” December 20, 2003.

William Henry Cardinal Keeler

“The church and the world need the message of holiness in ordinary life preached by St. Josemaría.” From a homily at a Mass for St. Josemaría Escrivá’s first feast day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on June 25, 2003.

Archbishop John Myers (Newark):

“How difficult it is for this consciousness of the call to holiness to sink into our minds and act upon our wills. I think that is why, among so many worthy institutions, old and new, God wanted Opus Dei.” From a homily at a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Josemaría at St. Mary Major in Rome on October 8, 2002.

Justin Francis Cardinal Rigali

“I see Opus Dei throughout the world really trying to fulfill the first pastoral guideline outlined by the Holy Father John Paul II in his apostolic letter on the New Millennium: the search for personal holiness…. Looking at the work of Opus Dei in this Archdiocese I would like to express my gratitude to the women and men of the Prelature for their loyal service and continual apostolate according to the spirit of their Founder.” From a homily at a Mass in celebration of the Centennial of St. Josemaría’s birth, at Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis on January 12, 2002.

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo (Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the United States):

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Msgr. Escrivá, we could give him no greater gift than to follow the great way and teaching that he has given to the church.” From a homily at a Mass for the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. Josemaría Escrivá at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on January 12, 2002.

Francis Eugene Cardinal George

“The spirituality of [Saint] Josemaría is a true Christian humanism. For Opus Dei respects every area of human endeavor: the life of the mind and life of the heart and the life of the hand.” From a homily at a Mass for the 100th anniversary of the birth of St. Josemaría at St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, January 9, 2002.

John Cardinal O'Connor:

“I am very grateful for the work all of you do for the Church universal, for society at large, and certainly for the Church here in New York…. I thank all of those who do their very best to advance the work of Opus Dei. I am with you unconditionally.” From a homily at a Mass in celebration of Josemaría Escrivá at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, June 26, 1998.

James Francis Cardinal Stafford, (President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity):

“The ministry of Opus Dei is one of continually reminding the faithful of the Church that every aspect of daily living, no matter how seemingly insignificant or outwardly extraordinary, is an opportunity for the proclamation of Christ’s love for all.” From a homily at a Mass in celebration of St. Josemaría Escrivá on June 26, 1995.

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

“We praise and thank God for all the wonderful things he has accomplished through [Saint] Josemaría and those who have followed in his footsteps.” From a homily at a Mass in celebration of Saint Josemaría Escrivá at the Holy Name Cathedral, July 1, 1992.

Aside from these words of encouragement and praise, a number of Church authorities have also issued words of caution. For example, Basil Cardinal Hume.

Basil Cardinal Hume, London:

“[St. Josemaría’s] words, seventy years ago, anticipated the Vatican Council’s decree on the place and the role of the laity in the world.… It is my conviction that it’s only slowly that we’re coming to understand what the Spirit was trying to say to us through the Council. But the Spirit goes on calling.… And surely the Holy Spirit is calling us in our day to a greater degree of holiness, to deepen our spiritual lives. And it has been the role of the movements [and] of Opus Dei to provide support and guidance on that road to holiness.” From a homily on October 2, 1998, at a Mass of thanksgiving in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of Opus Dei.
"I have made known to those responsible for Opus Dei in this country what I consider to be the right recommendations for the future activity of its members within the diocese of Westminster. I now wish to make public these four recommendations. Each of them arises from one fundamental principle: that the procedures and activities of an international movement, present in a particular diocese, may well have to be modified prudently in the light of the cultural differences and legitimate local customs and standards of the society within which that international body seeks to work. These recommendations must not be seen as a criticism of the integrity of the members of Opus Dei or of their zeal in promoting their apostolate. I am making them public in order to meet understandable anxieties and to encourage sound practice within the diocese. The four recommendations are as follows:
  • No person under eighteen years of age should be allowed to take any vow or long-term commitment in association with Opus Dei.
  • It is essential that young people who wish to join Opus Dei should first discuss the matter with their parents or legal guardians. If there are, by exception, good reasons for not approaching their families, these reasons should, in every case, be discussed with the local bishop or his delegate.
  • While it is accepted that those who join Opus Dei take on the proper duties and responsiblities of membership, care must be taken to respect the freedom of the individual; first, the freedom of the individual to join or to leave the organization without undue pressure being exerted; secondly, the freedom of the individual at any stage to choose his or her own spiritual director, whether or not the director is a member of Opus Dei.
  • Initiative and activities of Opus Dei, within the diocese of Westminster, should carry a clear indication of their sponsorship and management. From Guidelines for Opus Dei within the Diocese of Westminster, 2 December 1981

Leaders of Catholic organizations

When the founder was canonized, figures from Focolare, Communion and Liberation, Catholic Action, Missionaries of Charity and the Curia expressed their happiness:

Carla Cotignoli, Focolare Movement:

"We share the great joy of Opus Dei at the canonization of Msgr. Escriva. As the Pope has said so many times, 'charisms are a gift of God and a hope for mankind.' The charism of the founder of Opus Dei, that of seeking sanctity in ordinary life, in work, is becoming even more a patrimony of the whole Church.
"Precisely at the beginning of this new century, when the Pope in Novo Millennio Ineunte has strongly reaffirmed the need to live 'ordinary Christian life at a higher level, to live holiness, there shines with greater clarity the beauty and the timeliness of this gift of the Holy Spirit, so that together with the other charisms which have been brought forth in our time, the laity can contribute effectively to the renewal of the world of work, of politics, of economic life, of art, and of communication, and bring the soul back to the various social environments."

Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity:

"The announcement of the approaching canonization of Blessed Josemaria Escriva has aroused in me a strong feeling of gratitude. He has been a father and teacher to many along the path to holiness and apostolate – an untiring advocate of the apostolic responsibility of all of the faithful, and especially of the lay faithful, in all the environments and activities in which they are involved. His companionship and his intercession have enriched the whole Church and helped to renew everywhere a fruitful impetus of holiness and apostolate for the greater praise of God and service of mankind."

Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., Postulator of the cause of canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"It is remarkable how different the charisms and characters of the saints in the Church are. At times they even seem to be opposed to one another, but when you come to know the life and spirit of each one deeply, one ends up perceiving the common denominator that unites them: that of being a reflection of Christ’s way of being, the saint par excellence. This is the case with two of the great personalities of the Catholic Church of the 20th Century: Blessed Josemaria and Mother Teresa. Among those points in common I cannot fail to point out their great love for the Church, for the Pope, for sacramental confession; or their undisputed faith in the value of prayer as the point of departure for all apostolic activity; and so many other aspects, such as their capacity to undertake ambitious initiatives in the service of others.
"Among many others I would like to comment on a point which is particularly characteristic of the charism of Mother Teresa: her love for the poor, for the sick, for the dying; in short, for those most in need of help. In them, Mother Teresa saw Christ himself.
"In the life of Blessed Josemaria we also encounter a great commitment to help Christ present in those who are suffering need . . . a great effort of social commitment to improve the conditions of all human beings. . . . The poor, the sick, the abandoned were the weapons he used to win the battle of getting Opus Dei underway. In both cases, in that of the founder of Opus Dei and in that of Mother Teresa, the root of this commitment is found in faith, which made them see Christ in every person."

Giancarlo Cesana, of Communion and Liberation:

"'All work is an occasion of holiness.' In this phrase of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, which is at the same time both an affirmation and a proposal, one feels all of the attraction and power of Christianity as an experience which transforms and fills with meaning any circumstance of life, even the most routine and ordinary."

Msgr. Domenico Sigalini, Assistant Deputy General of Italian Catholic Action:

"Holiness, as Catholic doctrine has always taught, is a gift of God for everyone. And the fact that there is someone who has succeeded in bringing lay people to make this a living reality in their work, in their professional field, in the midst of their social relationships, in ordinary life—which so many who focus their mind on distraction and diversions feel is a torture —is another great gift of God. It means that Blessed Josemaria Escriva has been able to capture the dreams of God for humanity and has understood that Jesus became man, has suffered, died, and risen precisely so that every man and every woman could be a priest, king and prophet, that is a saint, in their lay state itself. Lay sanctity is something that Catholic Action seeks daily – with joy and gratitude does it open itself to this gift of a new saint whom God has granted to the Church, to deepen and share this vocation with everyone."

Others

Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things:

“[I]n forming one's approach to Opus Dei, the strong and consistent affirmation of John Paul II cannot help but carry very considerable weight.” “[O]ne cannot help but be impressed by the people who believe that they have found in Opus Dei a way to make an unqualified gift of their lives to Christ and his Church.” From “The Work of God,” First Things, November 1995.

Cornelio Fabro, eminent Italian philosopher and founder of the Institute for Higher Studies on Unbelief, Religion and Cultures, said of Escrivá:

"A new man for the new times of the Church of the future, Josemaria Escrivá ... has restored the true concept of Christian freedom... After centuries of Christian spiritualities based on the priority of obedience, he taught that obedience was the consequence and fruit of freedom.” [6]

Tom Mullelly, Princeton University chaplain:

“[C]ollaboration with the members of Opus Dei has been an enriching experience for me and many other members of this community. It is my hope that the cooperation in the Lord’s ministry, which exists in the Princeton University Community, will continue to flourish and that the collaboration between those who seek to deepen their knowledge of and commitment to the Lord, Jesus Christ, will serve as a model for others who seek to enhance the experience of campus ministry.” Statement, February 11, 2004.

John Raphael, SSJ, Howard University Chaplain:

“My association with Opus Dei extends back to my undergraduate days. I have greatly benefited from their spirituality and their love for and fidelity to the Church. I count some of my dearest friends among their membership. In recent years my own students have collaborated with them in volunteer outreach projects. I have great esteem and respect for the contribution Opus Dei makes to the great task of evangelization that belongs to the entire Church.” Statement, March 23, 2004.

Criticisms

There are also Catholic voices of criticism regarding Opus Dei

Ernesto Cardenal, liberation theologian, politician and mystic said in November 2002 before journalists in Cologne that Opus Dei was the only institution in the Catholic church in which there were exclusively reactionary forces. [7]

Hans Küng, dissident theologian, describes Opus Dei as "reactionary secret political and theological organisation from Franco's Spain, which has been involved in scandals connected with banks, universities and governments . . . which has features characteristic of the Middle Ages and counter-Reformation". (Küng, The Catholic Church: A Short History, 2002)

James Martin SJ, Editor of the Catholic magazine America:

"I would say 95 percent of the stuff that Opus Dei does, is great, I mean, lay spirituality and helping people understand God in their work. I think that's terrific. There is a part of Opus Dei, however, their recruitment techniques, their penchant for secrecy, some of the ways in which they operate in the church that really needs to be looked at." Opus Dei

Donald R. McCrabb, then executive director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, now at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington:

"We are aware that Opus Dei is present at a number of campuses across the country. I'm also aware that some campus ministers find their activities on campus to be counterproductive. [...] They are not taking on the broader responsibility that a campus minister has. [...] It is my understanding that one of the most controversial aspects is their insistence that their members go to confession only to Opus Dei priests. I think that campus ministers have seen it as a way of controlling, manipulating or coercing a student. That's the worst interpretation. The best is that it is discounting the ministry performed by other priests." in: Martin, Opus Dei in the United States.

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

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Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Opus Dei

Plural
-

Opus Dei

  1. short for The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, a Roman Catholic organization composed of a prelate, secular clergy and lay people whose mission is to spread the Catholic teaching that everyone is called to become a saint; its lay members, men and women, engage in the affairs of the world and seek to direct them "according to God's will".

Anagrams


Simple English

, Founder of Opus Dei: "Work is the way to contribute to the progress of society; even more, it is a way to holiness."]]Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei or more commonly known as Opus Dei, is an organization of the Roman Catholic Church. The aim given to Opus Dei by the Catholic Church is to tell everyone that God wants them to be close to him. This means that everyone is called by God to become a saint.

Opus Dei was started by St. Josemaria Escriva, a Roman Catholic priest. He started it in 1928. Now, Opus Dei has around 85,000 members all around the world. The head of Opus Dei organization is called a prelate, that is why the organization is called a prelature. The prelature of Opus Dei has priests and also ordinary lay people.

Opus Dei was approved by the Catholic Church in 1941. And it became a personal prelature in 1982 because of Pope John Paul II.

Contents

How it started and what it wants to do

Opus Dei was started by a Roman Catholic priest, Josemaria Escrivá, on 2 October 1928 in Madrid, Spain. He said that God himself showed him what to do. On that day he "saw Opus Dei."

He said that the aim of Opus Dei is to help Christians to know that their ordinary life is a way to become a saint and to bring people close to God. And to those who truly understand this, Opus Dei gives them classes, talks, and other help so that they can practice this teaching.

How it is called

John Paul II said that Opus Dei was started by Escriva but he was led by God.

The present Pope, Benedict XVI, said in the year 2002, that the name of this organization, shows that it is true that Josemaria Escriva did not want to start any organization. Escriva just allowed God to do what he wanted. And so the organization is not Escriva's work, Benedict XVI says. It is Opus Dei, or God's work. God just used Escriva as a tool to start his own work.

Some people do not accept what the Popes say. They say Opus Dei is just the work of a man.

What it teaches

The message of St. Josemaría, says José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, is part of the constant teachings of the Catholic Church. Here are the main points of the teachings of Escrivá and of Opus Dei on how to get close to God.

Becoming a saint in ordinary life
When they received baptism, Christians became children of God. And so they have to act like people who belong to the family of God. They should live like saints. And most Christians should live like Jesus Christ, making their everyday lives holy. Jesus worked as a carpenter and lived as a son in a Jewish family in a small village for 30 years.
Making work holy
If they want to do their work for God, Christians should do their work in the best way, so that their work serves the needs of society. By doing this, their work then becomes pleasing to God. In his work of service, Jesus Christ "did all things well" (Mk 7:37).
Love for freedom
Christians should be happy that God created them in a way that they are free. Being free means they can choose do something or not to do it. When God himself became a man, he also became free like any man. And throughout his life, he obeyed what God the Father wanted from him, even when he had to die in the process. "Because he wants to," each person either decides to be with God or away from him. Those are the two basic choices in life. [1]
Prayer and sacrifice
Love is what holiness is all about. And one learns to love by praying throughout the day like a child. Also by sacrificing for God by doing good deeds which are hard to do. You can have great holiness just by doing the little duties of each moment, Escriva said. [2]
Charity and bringing people to God
The most important habit of Christians is to love God and others: understanding people, being courteous, etc. When we love we have to do the first things, first. So we have to do our duties and also give God to others.
One life
A Christian who seeks God not just in church, but also in the material things does not have two lives. He has one life. He lives the life of Jesus Christ, and Jesus is both God and man. A good Christian becomes another Christ. He becomes god-like.

Escrivá said that the basis of the life of a Christian is the fact that we are children of God. [3] If we are aware of this fact, then we will be very happy always. [4] "Joy comes from knowing we are children of God." [5]

What it does

According to the Catholic Church, people can find God in their daily work and activities. There they can be very close to him. They do not have to become priests or monks to become a saint. God wants them to become a saint by doing their ordinary duties and activities well. For example, studying, playing, watching TV, helping in the house, reading a book, editing Wikipedia, etc. The task given to Opus Dei by the Catholic Church is to spread this knowledge that one can be a real saint by doing ordinary things and offering them to God.

Beliefs, newness and problems

Pope John Paul II praised Opus Dei and said that its aim of bringing God into the place of work is something great. Cardinal Albino Luciani who later became John Paul I, said that Escriva brought about a big change in how people deal with God. Before people gave importance only to prayers as a way of being close to God. Escriva, he said, gave importance also to work. The work one does can become prayer.

But when Escriva started teaching this, some Jesuits in the 1940s did not understand him. They said he was doing something that is against the Catholic faith because at that time it was believed that only priests and nuns can become holy. Some Jesuit leaders started saying that Opus Dei has secrets which it does not want the world to know, that is why it is dangerous. In fact, they said, Opus Dei just wanted to become very powerful and to control the world.

All these accusations were cleared up by the Popes and Catholic officials. These officials say that Opus Dei is doing something good for the world, by teaching people how to practice good habits such as telling the truth, working hard, keeping promises, loving people and being concerned with those who are in need.

However, since the Jesuits are much respected, a lot of people in the world believed what they said. Catholics and non-Catholics are now attacking Opus Dei around the world. They say that the members develop a strong drive to gain influence, and that the behaviour resembles that of a sect. What is also said about the organisation is that it has a very traditional view of the role of women in a Christian society. According to these critics, for Opus Dei the duty of the woman is to busy herself about the house and to raise the children of the family.

A writer named John L. Allen, Jr. wrote a book in the year 2005, which went against these accusations. He said that these claims are mainly based on not understanding Opus Dei. He said that Opus Dei only teaches what the Catholic Church teaches. He said that there are many Opus Dei women who are very good leaders in business, fashion, art, schools, social work, etc. One half of Opus Dei leaders are women, he said, and these women also lead men. It is also true, he says, that Opus Dei teaches that women are very good at taking care of their family. Escriva said that women are natural teachers.

Another writer, Massimo Introvigne, said that Opus Dei is now being attacked by people who do not believe in God and people who think that God should not be present in the world of human beings. These people, he says, do not want religion to come back to the lives of many people in society.

History: how it developed

2002. On that day, Pope John Paul II called Opus Dei's founder "the saint of ordinary life."]]
  • 1928: October 2. Start of Opus Dei
  • 1930: February 14. Start of the Women's branch of Opus Dei
  • 1939: The Way, Escrivá's book which has spiritual thoughts, is first published
  • 1941: March 19. The Bishop of Madrid approves Opus Dei
  • 1943: February 14. Start of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross
  • 1946: Escrivá went to Rome and puts up the headquarters of Opus Dei there
  • 1950: June 16. Pope Pius XII gives the Catholic Church's approval of Opus Dei
  • 1962: Start of the Second Vatican Council, a big meeting of Catholic bishops from all over the world. In this meeting, the bishops and the Pope teaches to everyone that they are all called to become holy
  • 1975: June 26. Escriva dies. Alvaro del Portillo, his closest co-worker, is chosen to become his successor
  • 1982: November 28. Opus Dei become a personal prelature, an organizational set-up that is best for it. John Paul II appoints del Portillo as prelate, or head of the prelature
  • 1992: May 17. John Paul II declares that the founder, Escriva, is in heaven
  • 2002: October 6. John Paul II says that Escriva is a saint. John Paul II calls Escrivá the "saint of ordinary life"

Further reading

Other websites

Sites supporting Opus Dei

Sites critical of Opus Dei








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