The Errors of Opus Dei
#1 Dei - Sectarians in disguise?
By Ian Smith
Blessed Josemaria Escriva founded the Prelature of the Holy Cross and opus Dei in Madrid on October 2, 1928. It is a "Personal Prelature", which is a Kind of juridical structure invented by the Second Vatican Council. The founder was beatified only 17 years after his death. To treat them fairly it seems best to first see what they say about themselves before consulting others, so I begin with their own Internet site.
The Official Opus Dei Internet site has a "frequently asked questions" page (FAQ), which appears to raise more questions than it answers. It states that opus Dei "… helps ordinary lay people seek holiness in and through their everyday activities, especially through work." Opus Dei therefore defines itself as a path to sanctification by means of work. The name of Opus Dei", Work of God", is a bit of a worry. I hop they don't mean that their work is the perfect way, and that all others are less than they should be. Their writings seem to imply that God wants every one to be sanctified primarily by means of work, which is a liberation theology vision and a path to communism. Their "About Us" page says of their missions ".. it is to spread the message that all the baptized are called to seek holiness and to make the Gospel known. This same message was at the core of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Constitution on the Church, 32,33)."Opus Dei therefore declare themselves to be inspired by Vatican II. That alone speaks volumes to those who have ears to hear. Their FAQ page further claims that it "promotes an awareness to the universal call to holiness - the radical idea that every person is called by God to be a saint - especially holiness is and by means of one's ordinary work and daily routine."
By "radical" do they mean extreme? Or do they mean original - originating with them? In fact "the idea that every person is called by God to be a saint" is not original - the leaders of Catholicism have been preaching it continuously since the beginning. Our Lord told us to be perfect. Will Opus Dei dare to claim that no one took that seriously until they came along?
So what does membership require of the members? According to the FAQ: "The primary apostolic work of Opus Dei is that carried out by each of its members, as free and responsible individuals acting on their own initiative. There are also corporate undertakings in which Opus Dei oversees the spiritual and doctrinal aspects. These are always not-for-profit ventures that provide an educational, charitable or similar social service, and include conference centers, schools and universities, student residences, youth clubs, farm schools and medical clinics." Again, they say of their members: "For the most part they do their job and live their family and social lives like everyone else, doing exactly what they would do if they were not in Opus Dei". Is this saying that "the primary apostolic work of Opus Dei" is to do exactly what they did before joining the Opus? Is this "Primary apostolic work" nothing more than a realization that the normal duty of state can be sanctifying - or that we must live our faith 24 hours a day? We could learn that from listening to any faithful priest - so we are left unsure what, primarily, the Opus is actually doing. They have almost said in this passage that all their visible works - humanitarian works that the Freemasons would probably like to be invited to - are secondary.
The questions and answers clearly show that the Opus is very sensitive to the fact that its critics have called it freemasonry: Is membership secret? No. Any Kind of secrecy is expressly forbidden by the statues governing Opus Dei". Are members involved in politics? Members can be involved in any honest activity they like." "Do members tend to have a common view on political or social matters? No." In the answer to the political question the web page also says: "As lay persons, their vocation is to ensure that their secular activities conform to the natural moral order." That is really weird. Where is the influence of the supernatural order in this "vocation"? "Those who become involved in politics do so without in any way representing Opus Dei, but as free and responsible individuals, following their own lights and answerable in exactly the same way and to exactly the same degree as anyone else." What? Are they all so enlightened by God that they can each follow their own lights? We Catholics prefer to submit our politics to the judgment of our Holy Mother the Church in those matters where religion and politics overlap. If Opus Dei is too zealous in refusing to offer such guidance, then it can only fuel speculation that they really do have a political agenda. A secret one. "Opus Dei takes no interest in any member's political actions, nor assumes any responsibility for them." Is this "work of God" as it calls itself, not at all interested in the many and major political issues that have an impact on the faith - like abortion, contraception, and sodomy?
After clearly stating that there are no vows in Opus Dei. The only commitment mentioned is to seek holiness - which does nothing to define the Opus, because everyone has always been obliged to do good and avoid evil. The Opus states that it does things that are new, including ä deep respect for the autonomy of lay people in the laity's proper environment (the vast panorama of secular society), seeing them not as some kind of agents of the clergy, but as full members of the Church, acting in response to a called received at Baptism". This is slandering most of the clergy of 2000 years by implying that they unjustly repressed the laity.
Their web site further states: "When it was founded, many aspects of Opus Dei's spirit, though based on the Gospel, were considered revolutionary for the time, to the point where some called them heretical: aspects such as the radical vision of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world; the role of women; the view of marriage as a way to become a saint; the idea of the world as a place where one can pursue holiness; and that the demands and joys of ordinary, everyday life could be a path or means to holiness. Many of these ideas later became part of the Church's official teaching, especially during the Second Vatican Council." So Opus Dei boasts of Vatican II being their revolution, and a successful reversal of tradition. They slander the traditional faith by these insinuations that our religion is sexist, arrogant, elitist, scornful of marriage and generally out of date; they almost deny the catechisms teaching that the world is an enemy of our souls, and they claim that sanctification by means of duty of state is their own original idea. They seem to be full of talk about sanctification, spirituality, apostolate, and even conversion, but they say little to nothing about catechism, heaven, hell, how to form virtue and destroy vice, the malice of sin, or the urgent necessity of doing penance and converting non-Catholics.
Is this the work of God? I get this from their own web page - when I look further afield it gets worse. The Angelus in September 1995 carried a translation of an article taken from the (Italian) magazine Si Si No No#11, about Opus Dei. With the usual depth and wisdom we have come to expect from this Roman publication, it reviews the book L' Opus Dei written originally in French by Dominique Le Tourneau, with imprimatur and nihil obstat from the Archdiocese of Paris. Le Tourneau flatly states that founder "Knew" the will of God, and he describes the "total newness" of idea that everyone is called to holiness. He then proceeds to summarize Church history, judging each age according to the measure of whether it glorified work or it did not.
The great religious orders have rules. The Legion of Mary has its handbook, and Opus Dei has "constitutions". These commanded (in articles 189,190 and 191) that membership must be hidden - a purely Masonic characteristic. The membership is unknown, the work is unknown. They call it "discretion".
Other sources make increasingly more serious complaints against Opus Dei. I found several, but I'll just mention two: This site lists their complaints as : "Aggressive recruitment using teams and staged activities. Recruitment through the use of front groups. Members must report regularly on the progress of their personal recruiting efforts. Lack of informed consent. Some controls, like opening all personal mail, corporal mortification, and donation for entire salaries are not revealed until after the initial commitment has been made. Members are often discouraged from telling their parents of the lifetime commitment to Opus Dei "because they will not understand." The display of pictures of loved ones is discouraged, not by rule but by subtle example. Some members have been told that if they leave Opus Dei they may be damned and will surely live life without God's grace.
Dominique le Tourneau insists, with all the Opus, that this is not a religious order, membership does not involve a change of one's state of life, and the Opus does not demand vows of members. Vows, "commitments", what is the difference?
A more aggressive book is titled Opus Judei (The work of the Jews) published in 1994 by Orion Publications, Santa Fe Bogota, Columbia (246 pages). This is written in Castellana Spanish. I have with me an English translation of the contents and part of chapter one. It digs up some very nasty dirt - effectively stating that the Opus is a cult, as mad as the maddest of cults, which follows a very Masonic style - including weird handshakes, aggressive demands of exclusive loyalty to the sect, which are harshly enforced, blind adoration of the founder, and so on.
In summary my own objections to Opus Dei are:
1) They admit non-Catholics as members. They will point out that non-Catholics are only admitted as "co-operators". So what? "Co-operators" are part of Opus Dei. All that Pope Pius XII has said about ecumenism equaling religious indifference is therefore publicly despised by them.
2) They are extremely secretive, really excessively so. They call it discretion. So where is the right balance? If they hide their light under a bushel, maybe they are not even of the light.
3) A Quote from Escriva: Pluralism is not to be feared but loved as a legitimate consequence of personal freedom." Is he saying that people have a positive right to choose false religions? Is freedom about Truth?
4) Quote from the Opus Die theologian Dominique Le Tourneau: "For the Founder, the Catholic solution to various solutions in the world does not exist. All solutions will be Christian if they respect natural Law and Gospel teaching." Connect this to the previous remark on pluralism and we can see modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies" (Pope St. Pius X) i.e, a very real and strong unbelief which pretends to be Catholic .
5) The Si Si, No No article accuses the Opus of contributing to changing Spain from Catholic to socialist. The official response from the Opus talked around this point, and did not say that the article had got it wrong.
6) If their "sanctification through work" ideal simply means that people should be sanctified by the means of doing their duty of state, then good, I love it, that's exactly what Sister Lucy of Fatima and many other saints have been saying. But if that is not exactly and exclusively what they mean by "sanctification through work" then they need to clarify just what they do mean by it if they are to be allowed the name Catholic. We know that the communist glorification of work as a means to the worship of Man has infiltrated the Church through "liberation theology" (which is at the essence of the Opus claim).
7) We still don't know what they actually do, they just seem to exist and recruit.
8) Their attitude to the crisis of the past four decades is truly in the spirit of Vatican II and that of the Post conciliar Popes - that is an adamant determination to be neither black nor white, but gray; (fence sitters) in other words, a strong commitment to Luke warmness. Our Blessed Lord has said something about that, as we all know very well (Apoc 3:16).
I've always steered clear of Opus Dei: these movements which are so centered around their leader always seemed a little bizarre.
They were always trying to recruit my grandmother, and to let them off lightly, she said she didn't think her husband would approve. So then they came back with, "Well, you don't have to tell him you're going, we'll help you keep it a secret".
 Now, in their defense, most of the Opus Dei people seem to  understand sanctification by work to mean something like St Therese's Little Way, trying to do your day to day work for the love of God.

Time Magazine in 1967 quoted those calling it a "Catholic freemasonry" ie - the only "masonic" conspiracy Time would ever seriously discuss. (since it's considered Catholic)

Quote:Many Spaniards call it "Octopus Dei," and in Argentina it is widely believed to be a "holy mafia." Many Jesuits, in particular, consider it heretical in both concept and practice—a sort of Catholic freemasonry.,00.html
I've been to a few OD "circles" -- out of curiosity, mainly -- and it's harmless stuff.  There's some Gospel reading and some preaching on a certain aspect of Catholic theology.  It was quite enlightening.

I suspect the experience at these "lower levels" is intentionally non-threatening.



Certainly your reading makes everything seem a bit dangerous : )


I am a supernumerary member of Opus Dei, have known Opus Dei for about 10 years, lived in their student residences and it is my 5 year anniversary of my vocation tomorrow : )


It is always good to question things, especially when so much strange stuff is always happening in the world! But I think that also it needs to be taken into consideration that the last wonderful Pope made St Josemaria a saint, and a Blessed, and in doing so a saint for the whole Church. To suggest that this was some conspiracy casts an ugly shadow on a very holy man (JP2)...


1. Work of God

It doesn't mean that everything is about work, but that through work we can give glory to God. St Josemaria would say that St Paul made tents and the apostles fished, and that Jesus devoted most of his adult life to carpentry. God made tables? As Christians we are called to imitate Christ, and whilst some are called to imitate more fully his evangelical ministry, or to follow him as a contemplative, others are called to imitate the work that he strove to do so well in St Joseph's workshop, making things out of wood for the glory of his heavenly father. It is not about a mechanistic world view like communism, but the fact that most of us are called to be lay people and therefore go about their daily lives, doing what they did before (if it was moral) but in a way that can be seen as a gift to God.


2. "Radical" I think this isn't about being an extremist or being better- it means in its original meaning as coming from the root (latin-radix). The lay vocation isn't something that came from Vatican II, it is something that the early Christians lived beautifully.


3. Politics. I work in politics. I have little influence, being a young and inexperienced so-and-so. When Opus Dei says that it does not tell people how to vote etc, it means that. But all Catholics are called to live the Church's social teachings (I have the compendium of social doctrine at home) and to make sure that the decisions that they make as voters or politicians are just and would give glory to God. But there are many things that are unclear. What is the best way to legislate to help the poor or homeless? As voters we have to act with our consciences. In the UK you might choose to vote Conservative because you think they have a better stance on life issues and family issues. On the other hand, you may think that Labour is better on social justice issues. Opus Dei, like the Conf of Bishops, would never tell you which way to vote- it is between you and God, but each of us has a responsibility to find out information and to discuss it with people who might know more- prol life orgs, Catholic orgs involved in social justice etc.


4. In Opus Dei we are always taught to have deep respect for the clergy, when, upon occasion, I have moaned about a particular priest, for example for syaing Mass strangely, I have always been told is to pray for all priests and religious, beacuse they have beautiful vocations.


5. Cooperators are not members of Opus Dei- they are people who support its apostolic or corporate works (the school, hospitals, social projects etc). The members of Opus Dei pray for them every day, and like everyone, we try to help them to look deeper into their faith, or to think about faith.


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What is clear is that noone can or should be coerced into the Faith- you cannot falsify a personal relationship with God!!!


I think what he meant was not religious pluralism- if he had said that he would NEVER have been made a saint because that is heretical and possible apostasy! - but that within the Church there are many pathways to Heaven. Vatican 2 restated what the Gospel clearly said- all people are called to follow our Lord and to become saints by dedicating their lives to Him. However, within the Church there are many, many beautiful charisms; vocations all with different spirits but which are seeking to be completely faithful to the Gospel and to the Church. God gives each of us our vocation- He calls us by our names. He called me to Opus Dei. I know because it gives me that peace in my heart that St Augustine spoke about- the peace that you find in God alone.


But I have friends with very different callings- to the Priesthood, to the religious life, to other lay vocations, celibate and married.


I give thanks to God for my vocation, and for the beautiful panorama that he has spread in front of us, the wonder of the Salvation which He offers to us and the love that He gives us unconditionally, and the different works that he asks each of us to do in our own small way, in our own vocations, to give glory to Him and to serve as His instruments here on Earth : )


If anyone has any other questions I would be more than happy to try answering them : )



superduper Wrote:To suggest that this was some conspiracy casts an ugly shadow on a very holy man (JP2)...

This says it all.
Aviano Wrote:
Bonifacio Wrote:
superduper Wrote:To suggest that this was some conspiracy casts an ugly shadow on a very holy man (JP2)...

This says it all.

So because you disagree with her opinion on JPII that negates her actual experience with Opus Dei?

Even JPII's enemies have never quibbled that he was a man of great faith and prayer. He was also devoted to Our Lady.

Even though one may disagree with some of the actions he took during his pontificate, there is still a lot we can learn from him.

That's your opinion, Aviano. I happen to think otherwise.
I have always been troubled by the Opus Dei members who seem to never quite get around to mentioning their affiliation. It reminds me of Amway, Mormons or Scientologists. It completely belies the notion of proudly living/demonstrating the Gospel.

It gives me the creeps. They would be far more likely to get people like me to attend and possibly join if they would simply practice transparency, maybe even some honesty.
Greetings to all.

In addition to the excellent points made above, I would like to add my own take on the Opus Dei cult.

Three Beefs:

1) Christ's Church is first and foremost a refuge for the  poor, miserable, and sinful. Opus Dei resembles more closely a country club for the wealthy, influential, and ambitious.

Yes, I read John L. Allen's book/hagiography. I know all about the Peruvian taxi driver and the Chinese laundry owner (or was it the Chinese taxi driver and the Peruvian laundry owner?) I'm sure "The Work" has a few members of other token minorities as well.

2) The smiley-faced recitation of all of "The Master's" (or the Founder's or the Leader's) words as if they were the greatest addition to Catholic living since the Gospel of John, when in fact they are just the dumbed-down, rehashed versions of the same teachings Our Church and its Saints have given us for 2000 years. 

3) The ruining of Spain at the hands of the Opus technocrats who introduced the evils of neoliberal economics and "market choices" to one of the last great Catholic nations of Europe.

1958 Spain: a stalwart defender of the Faith, determined to preserve its Catholic culture and traditions against any and all enemies.

1959 Enter Opus Dei neoliberal technocrats.

1969 Spain: A cesspool of shady oceanfront landgrabbing deals, a miasma of cheap condominiums, nude beaches, watered-down flamenco, liberal priests protesting in the streets along with the Marxist students, and a flowering terrorist movement known as ETA.

1980 Pedro Almodovar's first commercial film.

1983 Enter state socialism in the person of Don Felipe Gonzalez.

2009 Abortion, gay marriage, broken economy, alcoholic youth, mandatory homosexual indoctrination of grade school pupils, and the most anti-Catholic media on the European continent.

A few comments on your post, SuperDuper;

superduper Wrote:


3. Politics. I work in politics. 


A little advice. Get a real job doing something productive. Spend your spare time reading the writings of the Saints of our Glorious Tradition.


superduper Wrote:5. Cooperators are not members of Opus Dei- they are people who support its apostolic or corporate works (the school, hospitals, social projects etc). The members of Opus Dei pray for them every day, and like everyone, we try to help them to look deeper into their faith, or to think about faith.


Whichever faith that may happen to be, eh?


superduper Wrote:6. <<A Quote from Escriva: Pluralism is not to be feared but loved as a legitimate consequence of personal freedom." Is he saying that people have a positive right to choose false religions? Is freedom about Truth? >>



Try quoting someone besides Escrivá. Just try it. Just once.


I've read some of Escriva's stuff and I wasn't impressed. I'd gotten far more out of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Francis De Sales.

I've had limited exposure to members of Opus Dei, but the ones I've met have kind of creeped me out. I'm not stating this with any bias, as my meeting with these individuals happened when I was technically still apostate, some years ago. Two of them had this wild eyed look that just make me think "brainwashed". I don't think they were, but that image has just stuck with me.

My whole issue with Opus Dei is that I honestly just don't see any real, necessary reason for it's existence. At all.  Here's a snippet from wiki:

Quote:Opus Dei teaches that work not only contributes to social progress but is "a path to holiness",[44] and its founder advised people to: "Sanctify your work. Sanctify yourself in your work. Sanctify others through your work."[45]

Ora et Labora, anyone? St. Benedict ironed out this rule to perfection in his Rule over a thousand years ago. Why does his great work have to be recycled under someone else's name?

I'm also very unimpressed by repeated claims of a "universal call to holiness", which I though was already pretty much understood in the Catholic world, what with being a primary subject of the epistles and all.

Still, Opus Dei does (From my undersanding) enjoy the support of the Holy See.


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