Opus Dei

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Founder of Opus Dei: Saint Josemaría Escrivá
Founder of Opus Dei: Saint Josemaría Escrivá
The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, commonly known as Opus Dei (Latin "The Work of God"), is a Roman Catholic organization founded on October 2, 1928, by Josemaría Escrivá, a Spanish priest who was later canonized by Pope John Paul II.

The geographic extent of Opus Dei is vast. It has approximately 85,430 members in eighty countries, with central offices in Rome. In 1982 it was erected as a Personal Prelature by Pope John Paul II, who also canonized its founder on October 6, 2002.

According to Opus Dei, its aim is "to contribute to [the] evangelizing mission of the Church" by spreading the universal call to holiness and apostolate"; it "encourages Christians of all social classes to live consistently with their faith, in the middle of the ordinary circumstances of their lives, especially through the sanctification of their work." [1] (http://www.opusdei.org/art.php?w=32&s=307)

Critics have described Opus Dei as a secretive, authoritarian organization; or even a cult, especially because of its practice of mortification of the flesh. They have alleged that Opus Dei has connections with right-wing and fascist organizations worldwide. Some commentators have called it "one of the most controversial groups in the Catholic Church today."


Foundation and mission

Opus Dei was founded by St. Josemaria Escriva, who as a young lad saw "footprints in the snow" left by a monk walking barefooted in winter. This brought about, according to Escriva, "intimations of love," inklings that he had been "chosen for something." After years of praying to find out what it was, on 2 October 1928, Escriva, a priest by then, "saw Opus Dei."

The mission of Opus Dei, in the words of the founder, is:

"to help those Christians who...form part of the very texture of civil society to understand that their life...is a way of holiness and apostolate. The one and only mission of Opus Dei is the spreading of this message which comes from the Gospel. And to those who grasp this ideal of holiness, the Work offers the spiritual assistance and the doctrinal, ascetical and apostolic training which they need to put it into practice." [2] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/conversations/point/60)

Its main activity is to "give a Christian formation to its members and to other people who wish to receive it." [3] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/conversations/point/27) Escrivá summarized the organization's role as "a great catechesis."

Main teachings

Opus Dei's teachings have been taken up, according to Catholic officials, by the Second Vatican Council which states that "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life...all the faithful are invited and obliged to holiness...by reason of their special vocation, it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in the affairs of the world and directing them according to God's will." [4] (http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/v3.html)

Thus, these teachings do not lie outside mainstream traditional Roman Catholic spiritual and ascetic theology. These teachings form a lay spirituality, [5] (http://www.opusdei.org/art.php?w=32&a=568) and help build the spirit or culture which is practised in the Work.

The following are the main features of the founder's spiritual teachings, the basis of Opus Dei's message.

  • Opus Dei members feel called to find God in work and daily life and stay close to Him, following Jesus, who worked as a carpenter and lived as a son of a Jewish family in a small village for 30 years. "There is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations," Escriva preached, "and it is up to each of you to discover it." [6] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/conversations/point/114))
  • Whatever work they do is to be done with a spirit of excellence as an effective service for the needs of society. Their work then becomes a fitting offering to God. In his work of service, Jesus Christ "did all things well." (Mk 7:37) By allowing God to transform them into "other Christs," Christians can (and should!), says Escriva, become saints and apostles right there where they work and live.
  • Escriva preached that Christians should love freedom because God the Son himself, on becoming man, took on human freedom. He sanctified mankind through love: by freely giving himself, "obeying" his Father's will throughout his ordinary life, "until death on the cross." (Phil 2,8) Escriva notes that Jesus "gave himself, because he wanted to." (Is 53,7) Through his freedom, each man controls and shapes his life, being responsible for cooperating or not with God's loving plan of holiness. Recognizing such great dignity, Christians should therefore delicately respect the freedom of others, be open to a pluralism of opinions, and give themselves, with full freedom and personal responsibility, to God and neighbor. [7] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/10)
  • Love, the essence of sanctity and apostolate, is nurtured by constant child-like prayer which is supported by norms of piety involving the Eucharist, the Bible, and the Virgin Mary. Mortification, "prayer of the senses," is especially done by striving to practice all the human virtues, such as being kind, hardworking, sincere and cheerful despite difficulties and failures. "Do everything for Love. Thus there will be no little things: everything will be big...[8] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way/point/813)'Great' holiness consists in carrying out the 'little duties' of each moment." [9] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way/point/817)) These actions are co-offered in the Holy Mass, the same redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Sanctifying grace flows down especially through communion and confession.
  • Members are to give the highest importance to the virtue of charity: being understanding and caring for each person. Included are service towards the needy in society and the practice of human courtesy, refinement, warmth, affection and fraternal correction. [10] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/167) Love, which should be orderly, starts by performing one's duties well and is first directed towards the Pope. And it overflows when one generously gives the best to people, bringing them closer to their Father God, source of peace and joy.
  • To describe the practical result of his teachings, Escrivá frequently used the phrase "unity of life," an imitation of Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man: no double life--prayer not divorced from daily work. [11] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/10)

According to Escriva, the foundation of Opus Dei's spirituality is what he calls "divine filiation," the Christian's fundamental status as a son of God, a deep awareness of which brings about a good kind of "superiority complex" [12] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_forge/point/342) and a "supernatural outlook."

Opus Dei's spirituality commits lay people to sanctify themselves in the same place where they were before they met Opus Dei. Even more, Opus Dei supporters say, their place in the world is the means for their sanctification. "Our cell is the street," Escriva used to say. (These teachings are also discussed in the Opus Dei website. [13] (http://www.opusdei.org/art.php?w=32&p=5397) See also Fuenmayor et al 1996; Rodriguez et al 1994; Berglar 1994, p. 301-326)

Escriva's teachings were analyzed and studied in a theological symposium held in Rome, Holiness and the World. Together with an address by John Paul II, several theologians contributed their studies, including the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Vatican theologian George Cottier and American moral theologian Prof. William May. [14] (http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/may-escriva.htm)

On the other hand, some critics belittle the writings of the founder, saying that they are "less than scintillating." According to Jesuit writer, Fr. James Martin (1995), Escriva's maxims range "from traditional Christian pieties...to sayings that could easily have come out of Poor Richard’s Almanack."

In contrast, Catholic officials, specifically the Vatican's theological consultors for Escriva's canonization gave another assessment of Escriva's works. One said that Escriva is "like a figure from the deepest spiritual sources"; another stated that he "possesses the force of the classic writers, the temper of a Father of the Church."

These contrasting views, as can be seen throughout this article, will appear in discussions of the different aspects of Opus Dei.

A personal prelature of the Catholic Church

Those who practice the teachings of Opus Dei and feel called to a special vocation form what canon law scholars call a "spiritual family." This family, of which Escriva was the head and the "first vocation," had to find a legal structure that fits its foundational idea so that its specific path within the Catholic Church can be assured through time.

Due to the novelty of Opus Dei's teachings and its organizational characteristics plus the inadequacy of available legal structures in the Church at the time of its foundation, says Fuenmayor et al in The Canonical Path of Opus Dei, it took many years of twists and turns (1928-1982) before Opus Dei was granted the legal framework that would fit its founding idea. And so it was on 28 November 1982, that Catholic Church established Opus Dei as personal prelature, a framework envisioned in Vatican II. John Paul II stated that it is "perfectly suited to Opus Dei." [15] (http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CBISUTSI.HTM) See also [16] (http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/canon/c0204-0329.htm#par586).

In his constitutional document Ut sit establishing Opus Dei as a personal prelature, Pope John Paul II said that Opus Dei was founded by Escrivá in 1928, ductus divina inspiratione, "having been led by divine inspiration." The prelature was given a double purpose:

  • form and assist its members to respond to their vocation and personal commitment to practice a demanding Christian life
  • spread God's specific message that all Christians are called to holiness and apostolate in the middle of the world by virtue of their baptism, with emphasis on the sanctifying value of ordinary work. [17] (http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CBISUTSI.HTM) (Fuenmayor et al 1996, Rodriguez et al 1994)

According to John Paul II, this canonical structure is consistent with what he calls specific characteristics of Opus Dei: the organization is international in scope and under one head. It includes both clergy and laity working as one with no distinctions of class of membership between them. It is for men and women who are common laity or secular priests. Being a part of the Church's hierarchical structure, like a diocese, indicates that Opus Dei is a part of the Church itself, and not a mere product of voluntary association. (See also Fuenmayor et al 1996, p. 34-41)

Like dioceses and military ordinariates, personal prelatures are under the governance of the Congregation for Bishops, for they take charge of lay people with their own secular clergy and prelate, unlike the religious orders which are under the Congregation for the Religious, because they take charge of nuns, monks, friars, religious priests, and lay orders which follow religious practices.

Like the military ordinariates, personal prelatures take care of persons with some particular objectives, regardless of diocesan geographical boundaries.

The authority of the Opus Dei prelate over the organization's members is restricted to their spiritual and apostolic commitments in pursuit of the prelature's mission. The work of the prelature and the dioceses are not meant to conflict. As Catholic faithful whose vocation is to sanctify their ordinary situation both civil and ecclesial, the lay members of Opus Dei, in the words of the Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit [18] (http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CBISUTSI.HTM), "continue to be faithful of the dioceses...and are, therefore, under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop in what the law lays down for all the ordinary faithful."

Vocation and membership

The Vatican Yearbook indicates that Opus Dei has 85,000 members about 1,900 of whom are priests. Of these 1,900 priests, 25 are bishops working in various dioceses throughout Europe, South America, Africa and the United States. Members are distributed geographically as follows: Africa 1600; Asia and the Pacific 4700; Americas, North and South 29,000; Europe 48,700.

It is said that they have "one vocation", because they are called to "have the same apostolic goal...practice the same spirit and ascetical means." (Statutes 6. See Ocariz in Opus Dei in the Church p. 113). Because of this "oneness of vocation," Opus Dei says that it has "a Christian family atmosphere": family warmth, simplicity, confidence, spirit of service among the members. For some this terminology of having "one vocation" is mainly a way of saying that Opus Dei is one organization, as contrasted with traditional Catholic Religious Families, which are confederations of different organizations with similar charisms and/or founders.

As they are not religious nor consecrated persons like the clergy, the lay members of Opus Dei are incorporated into the prelature by means of private contracts and not vows. To be incorporated into the prelature, one must freely ask to do so, convinced that he has received a vocation. The request is made in writing and has to be accepted by the prelature's authorities.

Admission is granted after a minimum of six months. After an additional period of at least one year, the person can be temporarily incorporated into the prelature through a formal declaration of a contractual nature, which is renewable yearly. After a minimum of five more years, the incorporation can become definitive.

According to the official literature, "there are no categories of membership in Opus Dei....There are, however, different ways of living that same Christian vocation, according to different circumstances." These differentiating circumstances especially refer to the degree of their availability to be involved in the prelature's formational and apostolic tasks. (See Thierry 1975)

Opus Dei additionally has many "cooperators," these are non-members who assist its activities through prayer, donations, or other means. Among these cooperators, Opus Dei says, there are some who are not Catholic, or not even Christian, e.g. Jews, Buddhists, Muslims. Religious communities as a whole can also be appointed as cooperators.


Most of the members are supernumeraries, currently about 70% of total membership. Generally they are married men or women, for whom the sanctification of their family duties is the "most important business," in the words of the Escriva. Supernumeraries are the least available for the formational tasks but assist in them as their circumstances permit. Married or unmarried, they live wherever they want. Theirs is not a second class membership.

The rest of the members are men and women who commit themselves to celibacy.


Numeraries, who comprise less than 20% of the membership, live in celibacy so as to be totally available to the formational tasks of the prelature. The term numerary is taken from Spanish and Latin American academy and government.

Numeraries in Opus Dei consider Opus Dei as their family, to which they devote all their earnings. As a general rule, they live in Opus Dei centers. Most of them have secular jobs, but for some their professional work is to direct the apostolic activities of Opus Dei. The numeraries are the primary givers of spiritual direction to the rest of the membership.

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Cilice - Mortification belt used by many Catholic organizations, especially monastic orders
In addition to the practice of celibacy, the numerary members follow practices of mortification of the flesh. (See below for more information on these practices).

It is generally from the numeraries that the prelate calls men to the priesthood. They are told repeatedly that they are free to decline the invitation. A male numerary may also ask to pursue ordination.


Associates also live in celibacy, but they typically do not live in Opus Dei facilities. Their personal circumstances do not permit them to be as available to the prelature's work as a numerary. The prelate can also ask them to become priests; they are free to decline.

Numerary assistants

There is another type of member among the women of Opus Dei called "numerary assistant". They practice celibacy and attend to the domestic needs of the centers of Opus Dei, both for the men and for the women. Since there is only one vocation, they are equal to the rest of the membership.

And because of the importance of material things in transmitting the "incarnate" Christianity of Opus Dei, Escriva used to call their work as "the apostolate of apostolates."

Priestly Society of the Holy Cross

This is an association of clergy intrinsically united to Opus Dei which they say promotes brotherhood among priests and their personal sanctification. It is made up first of all of the clergy of the prelature who are automatically members. Secondly, it is made up of diocesan priests, deacons, and bishops. Some Opus Dei members also serve as bishops in various dioceses throughout the world, including the United States, Europe, South America, and Africa. The prelate of Opus Dei is the president of the society.

To be admitted to this society, a secular priest should be convinced that he has been called to sanctify his priestly work according to the spirit of Opus Dei. This spirit involves obedience and veneration for his bishop and unity with the members of the diocesan clergy.

These diocesan clergy of the Priestly Society are not incardinated into the presbyterate of the prelature. They depend solely on their bishop and just receives spiritual help from the Society to fulfill their priestly duties well. (Thierry 1975)

There are some 2000 deacons and priests, aside from the prelature's priests, who belong to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.

Formation and training

Opus Dei emphasises doctrinal formation, instruction in the revealed truths of the Catholic religion. Their founder taught that Christians should have "the piety of children and the sure doctrine of theologians." [19] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/10) The Vatican's Code of Particular Law for Opus Dei, known as its Statutes, states: "the instruction of the members is presented in a way that is in complete conformity with the Magisterium of the Church." (See Fuenmayor 1994; Messori 1997, p. 157)

Since all the members have received the same vocation, "being contemplatives in the middle of the world," they receive essentially the same doctrinal, theological, spiritual and ascetical formation whether they are men or women, young or old, university graduates or not, well-to-do or needy, laymen or priests. Escriva referred to having the "same cooking pot" for his children. Their theological and philosophical formation include courses on the History of the Church, Christology, Sacraments, Liturgy, Metaphysics, and Anthropology. Numerary members receive a more intense formation due to their formational duties.

Spiritual and ascetical training is intended to develop the member's life of piety and to foster their practice of the human virtues. (See Romano 1995; Le Tourneau 2002) Having given them this formation, the prelature considers that it "has done its job," in the words of their founder. Opus Dei "has nothing else to do...Here begins," he says, "the free and responsible personal action of each member...Autonomously forming his own conscience before the concrete decisions he has to take, he endeavors to seek Christian perfection and give Christian witness. Naturally, in the temporal realities, there will often be different options, criteria and ways of acting." [20] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/conversations/point/19)

Novelty of doctrine and controversies

Opus Dei has received both high praise and a host of criticisms.

John Paul II said that Opus Dei "anticipated the theology of the lay state, which is a characteristic mark of the Church of the Council and after the Council." He described its aim as "a great ideal" and its message as both timely and timeless.

Benedict XVI, three years before becoming Pope, said that Escriva's example and teaching that he merely put himself at the disposal of God in His own Work is "an extremely important message...that leads to overcoming the great temptation of our time: the pretense that after the 'big bang' God retired from history."

Many Church officials and a number of historians of theology have said that Opus Dei has an innovative and revolutionary theological doctrine and anthropology, teachings which will have a decisive influence in the future of the Church and the world.

Through the doctrine of the sanctifying value of daily work, ordinary people, the great bulk of the world-wide Church, now have a genuine "lay spirituality" which can take them to heights of sanctity. This is a radical departure, according to Cardinal Luciani, who later became John Paul I, from the previous practice of applying religious spirituality to lay people.

Opus Dei's teaching on the universal call to sanctity, a doctrine which was half-forgotten for most of Christian history, has become a leitmotif of contemporary Christianity. (Illanes 1982) For a longer discussion and quotes from Catholic leaders, please see Opus Dei and Catholic Church Leaders.

In the work of spreading this message marked by novelty, the Work faced challenges, misunderstandings and controversies, leading some observers of religious phenomena to see Opus Dei as a "sign of contradiction." (See [21] (http://www.guru-international.com/annals/archives/000213.html); O'Connor 1991, p. 1993)

Fr. James Martin (1995) says that Opus Dei is "the most controversial group in the Catholic Church today... To its critics it is a powerful, even dangerous, cult-like organization that uses secrecy and manipulation to advance its agenda." [22] (http://www.americamagazine.org/articles/martin-opusdei.cfm) Cardinal Julian Herranz, the highest ranking member of Opus Dei in the Roman Curia, says, "Opus Dei has become a victim of Christian-phobia," But in fact, he said, "more people today love Opus Dei than don't." [23] (http://www.oilempire.us/pope.html)

At the very start of Opus Dei's development after the Spanish Civil war in the 40's, some members of religious orders, especially some Jesuits led by Fr. Angel Carrillo de Albornoz who later left the Society of Jesus, denounced Opus Dei's teachings as "a heresy." It is not orthodox, they said, to teach that ordinary laity can be holy without the protection of cloisters and the support given by public vows and some special clothing like habits which will distinguish them from common people. At the same time those who condemned Opus Dei were concerned that it would take away vocations from the more predominant religious orders.

Based on reports from Spain, the Jesuits' superior general, Fr. Wlodimir Ledochowski, told the Vatican that he considers Opus Dei "very dangerous for the Church in Spain." He went on to describe it as having a "secretive character" and that "there are signs in it of a covert inclination to dominate the world with a form of Christian Masonry." This first of the controversies against Opus Dei generated within ecclesiastical circles is the root, according to historian Vasquez de Prada (1997) and investigative journalists V. Messori (1997) and J. Allen (2005), of the development of accusations from different quarters that Opus Dei is a dangerous, secret society in pursuit of power. [24] (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7288539/site/newsweek/)

On the other hand, some critics say that Opus Dei has problems due to its intrinsic paradoxes. Prof. Joan Estruch, the Research Director of the Department of Sociology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, says in Saints and Schemers: Opus Dei and its Paradoxes that the founding of Opus Dei on 1928 is merely based on the "legend" of the footprints in the snow. In reality, he says, it was founded in 1939. Thus, Opus Dei is not the Work of God, but the work of a man --Escriva-- and his intent and teachings evolved through time depending on the social circumstances. At one point, Escriva just wanted to modernize Spain.

Thus, Estruch sees that Opus Dei's internal aspects are in tension: it tries to be conservative in doctrine but it also tries to be modern through its work ethic. Estruch also says that Opus Dei merely imitated the methods of the Society of Jesus and it is due to their similarities that the two organizations collide in Spain: the Jesuits were envious that Opus Dei has become more successful than they are in their own field of expertise, education. [25] (http://www.opuslibros.org/libros/Santos_pillos/indice.htm)

On reviewing Estruch's book in Catholic.net, James V. Schall, S.J. says, using a quote from Leo Strauss, that Estruch's conclusions are "generated by purely subjective value judgments or arbitrary preferences." Schall says that the social scientist has "simply no tools with which to examine a spiritual event (the divine calling of Escriva) so he lapses back to the worldly notion...that all priests go to seminaries to better their lot... If the only reason that Opus Dei exists is better to educate a few poor intellectuals or to modernize Spain, or any place else, it hardly seems worth the divine effort, worthy as these objectives are."

Due to Estruch's subjective-arbitrary methodology, Schall says, he ends up contradicting himself. While he sees nothing divine in Escriva's founding of Opus Dei, his methodology enables him "to insinuate that the members of Opus Dei, good Christians and good theologians all, would conclude that the Founder was eventually to be 'divinized.'"[26] (http://www.catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Homiletic/0809-96/8/8.html)

Allegations of ultra-conservatism

One of the most prevalent criticisms against Opus Dei's doctrine comes from secular and non-Catholic religious groups, and also from progressive-liberal Catholics. They say that Opus Dei promotes an overly conservative or reactionary vision of the Roman Catholic faith. They say that Opus Dei's loyalty to the Pope is "too unswerving" and that the outlook of the members is overly spiritual or supernatural. (Walsh 1989)

The late Hans Urs von Balthasar, considered as one of greatest theologians of the 20th century, discussed Opus Dei in an article entitled "Fundamentalism" and he described it as "a concentration of fundamentalist power in the Church." He classifies Opus Dei's teaching as integrism, an attempt to impose spiritual values through worldly means. He based his negative views on his reading of some points of Escriva's main book, The Way, which von Balthasar did not consider of sufficient spiritual depth for its worldwide goals.

On the other hand, Church officials, some analysts and Opus Dei supporters say that conservative is mainly and originally a political category which is misapplied to religious, moral, or intellectual matters. These should be categorized as either faithful or heretical, good or evil, true or false. (Messori 1997, Weigel 1999) The present prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarria also says that everything in the Church is "conservative," for it conserves the Gospel of Christ. Similarly, everything in it is "progressive" because she looks toward the future, puts faith in young people, seeks no privileges, and is close to the poor. [27] (http://www.opusdei.org/art.php?w=32&p=8037)

Messori, who studied the von Balthasar issue, says that the theologian later retracted his views after more in-depth study and after meeting members of Opus Dei. He even defended Opus Dei against attacks.

Feminist criticism

Writing for Catholics for a Free Choice, G. Urquhart in his report Conservative Catholic Influence in Europe describes Opus Dei "as one of the most reactionary organizations in the Roman Catholic Church today...for its devotion to promoting, as public policy, the Vatican's inflexibly traditionalist approach to women, sexuality, and reproductive health." The "chief activity for Opus Dei women is domestic work," he says. Critics in Ireland, including some ex-Opus Dei members, accused the organisation of "sexist exploitation" of women, whom they claimed were restricted in Opus Dei run hostels to doing manual work such as cooking and cleaning and denied any role in leadership.

In response, supporters say that men and women are equal in Opus Dei, with half the leadership positions being held by women. By sanctifying their professional work, there are many women of Opus Dei who have proven to be great achievers in many fields of endeavor: business, fashion, learning, journalism, etc. But, supporters say, these women always consider it a precious, strategically effective service to society to work in their home and for the family, the basic cell of society.

Aside from those who point an accusing finger at what they see as Opus Dei's ultraconservative doctrine, there are those who criticize Opus Dei's support for the Second Vatican Council's teaching on ecumenism. This group of critics, the traditionalists, say that it is not orthodox for Opus Dei to cooperate with non-Christians and non-believers in its works of apostolate. They also criticize its theology on the role of the laity in the Church.

Radical demands on members

One of Escriva's favorite teachings was the biblical injunction on loving God with one's whole heart, soul, might, and mind, a love which does not keep anything back, a kind of love which parents are supposed to transmit all day long to their children (Deut 6:4-9), and which Christ said is the "greatest commandment." (Mt 22:37-40) [28] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/59)

"Christian faith and calling affect our whole existence, not just a part of it," he said in one of his published homilies. "Our relations with God necessarily demand giving ourselves, giving ourselves completely." [29] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by/point/46) This, for Escriva is the "good use of freedom, when it finds its true meaning...put in the service of the truth which redeems" [30] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/friends_of_god/point/27)

According to Opus Dei supporters and Catholic officials, these teachings are Christ's who demanded it from all his disciples. Jesus "asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. (Mt 13:44-45)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 546). John Paul II emphasized that Catholics should proclaim God's Word "without ever hiding the most radical demands of the Gospel message." (Novo Millennio Ineunte 40)

Allegations of being a cult

Due to the radical demands of Opus Dei, some critics accuse it of acting as a religious cult within the Church.

They suggest that Opus Dei shows characteristic cult behavior such as:

  • aggressive recruitment methods - includes love bombing techniques, monitoring of members' recruitment efforts, formation of recruitment teams and strategies
  • undue pressure to join - vocational crises are staged; threats are issued: saying no to a calling leads to a life of misery
  • lack of informed consent on the part of the new recruits - they vaguely commit themselves to a certain "spirit of the Work"
  • encouraging members to relinquish contact with their friends and families in favour of contacts within the group
  • controlling the environment of the member; loss of freedom of the members
  • threatening members when they try to leave. The strongest form of threat is the threat of condemnation. ie it is not a physical but psychological threat.
  • making members focus on efforts in favor of the growth of the group. The most important job for an Opus Dei member is to attract other people to become members too. His social life, the circles that he frequents, the kinds of people he tries to become a friend of, is always geared towards proselytism.
  • requiring numerary members to perform what critics view as highly suspicious practices such as mortification of the flesh, involving the use of the cilice for two hours a day and the discipline [31] (http://www.odan.org/tw_deception_and_drugs.htm); its founder is frequently alleged by critics to have whipped himself until there was blood on the walls. On the bedside of a dying, pain-striken woman abandoned by her family, he consoled her with the words: "Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. . . Glorified be pain!" These words are written in The Way, point 208 (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way/point/208), which for his critics implies a strange attitude towards pain.

These points were taken from the Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc. an organization "founded in 1991 to meet the growing demand for accurate information about Opus Dei and to provide education, outreach and support to people who have been adversely affected by Opus Dei." "ODAN has been in contact with countless individuals, families, the secular and religious press, clergy, religious, cult awareness organizations, campus ministers, home-schooling parents and more." ODAN has the support of former members of Opus Dei and their parents. It provides a venue for people who left Opus Dei to discuss their views.

ODAN was founded by Diane DiNicola, mother of Tammy DiNicola, a former numerary of Opus Dei. Diane saw unusual behavior in her daughter and asked help from counselors to "deprogram" her. Tammy is presently the Executive Director of ODAN and has given various reports to cult organizations on her experiences. [32] (http://www.odan.org) Another member who has related her negative experiences, delivering stinging accusations against Opus Dei, is Maria Carmen del Tapia, a former high-ranking member of the organization. She wrote Beyond the Treshold in 1998.

A sociologist and doctor in law, Alberto Moncada, a former member of Opus Dei who was a founding Pro-Rector of an Opus Dei related university in Latin America, says that Opus Dei is an "intraecclesial" sect, because for the Vatican "radical rightist groups and fundamentalisms are tolerated." (See "Catholic Sects: Opus Dei" in Revista Internacional de Sociologia, Madrid 1992).

Dr. John Roche, a former member of Opus Dei and a lecturer at Linacre College, Oxford stated "I am convinced Opus Dei is a sect, a cult, a malignant growth upon the body of the church."

A Belgian Parliamentary Commission Report of the 28th of April 1997 officially classified Opus as a sect.

Opus Dei responses to cult accusations

Opus Dei objects to being called a cult or a sect from two points of view, the theological and the sociological.

The theological point of view:

  • Cardinal Schönborn, editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, says that the slogan “sects within the Church” is self-contradictory: “a group is considered a sect when it is not recognized by the relevant Church authority." L'Osservatore Romano, 13/20 August 1997.
  • While members commit mistakes in winning vocations, diligence in apostolate follows the radical demands of baptism: "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 863)
  • Prof. Berglar says that he cannot understand "why parents will allow a teenager the decision to drop out of religion class, but not the decision to serve God and the Church. The time-tested experience of the Church is, indeed, that a young person can generally recognize the signs of a divine vocation and at least begin to pursue it." He referred to many famous young people who lived in a saintly way and were canonized. (1994, p. 164) According to Opus Dei rules, new members must be adults aged 18 or over. They must understand the meaning of free, total self-giving and its demands.
  • "Parents must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: 'He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.' (Mt 10:37)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2232) At the same time Opus Dei teaches that the fourth commandment is "the most sweet precept" [33] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_forge/point/21) which should be compatible with the priorities set by the first commandment.
  • Although Christ showered affection on people (Mk 10:16-21), he also issued many threats out of love for them: against easy-going and fruitless Christians (Mt 7:13-19), against infidelity (Lk 12:37-47; Jn 15:5-6; Lk 9:62), against false righteousness (Mt 5:20), etc.
  • Mortification of the flesh was freely practiced by Christ himself. He fasted for 40 days, lived a life of discomfort and poverty, and deliberately allowed himself to be tortured and crucified. He taught that his disciple should “deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) Thus, Christians throughout history freely took up the practice of corporal mortification, e.g. England’s “prime minister,” Sir Thomas More and popular saints like Padre Pio and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. People of other religions practiced it. Modern-day perplexity over this practice is rooted in secularism, a skepticism towards God, religion and supernatural realities like sin and eternal punishment. Secularists can’t understand what Christ and John Paul II call "the need for suffering." John Paul II explains in his Apostolic Letter on the Salvific Meaning of Suffering that "suffering, more than anything else, makes the powers of the redemption present." And understanding this is "a source of joy." [34] (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris_en.html). For a historical and theological study, please see Mortification of the flesh.
  • "The Work" according to their founder, "not only respects its members' freedom, it helps them to become fully aware of it." A common teaching in Opus Dei is this: Without freedom, we cannot love God, give ourselves, and practice the virtues.

The sociological point of view:

  • CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, an international organization of scholars from leading universities devoted to the study of new religious forms, says that "the category of 'cults' used by these [anti-cult activists's] documents is unscholarly and not acceptable. Methodologically, it is clear that these [anti-cult] reports rely primarily on sources supplied by the international anti-cult movement, and accept uncritically the brainwashing or mind control model of conversion, a model unanimously rejected by mainline sociological and psychological science." [35] (http://www.cesnur.org/library/whatisit.htm) The Director of CESNUR, Massimo Introvigne says that this movement "considers anyone to be in a 'cult' who does not accept relativism, and who persists in believing that there exists truth, even in religious matters." (Messori 1997, p. 35)
  • Writing about Opus Dei and the anti-cult movement, Introvigne refers to the laicist roots of the anti-cult activists who cannot tolerate "il ritorno del religioso," the return of the religious.[36] (http://www.alleanzacattolica.org/indici/articoli/introvignem229.htm). Interviewed by investigor V. Messori, he says: "Anti-cult movements have made Opus Dei a prime target for years. These anticults seem obsessed with the cilice, as if it were not the free, voluntary choice of free adult persons, and as if it were imposed upon them." (1997, p. 37)
  • Observers of social trends have suggested that these criticisms contain an anti-Catholic bias, whereby the Catholic Church itself is tagged as a cult. For these authors, anti-catholicism is the "last acceptable prejudice" in the west. This approach assumes that western society finds other prejudices no longer so acceptable, such as discrimination against women, Jews, African-Americans and gays. (See Jenkins 2003 and Massa 2003; also [37] (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7288539/site/newsweek/))

Related to the cult-accusations against Opus Dei, particularly what is seen as its aggressive recruitment methods, is the set of "Guidelines for Opus Dei within the Diocese of Westminster" issued by the late Cardinal Basil Hume. Cardinal Hume, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales issued these guidelines in December, 1981. Some read these as implicit criticism of Opus Dei, although others point to the fact that Cardinal Hume was the principal celebrant at Opus Dei's 70th anniversary Mass in London (October 1998) by way of evidence that the cardinal and the organization enjoyed good relations. The latter also refer to his homily. [38] (http://www.opusdei.org.uk/art.php?w=20&a=2056)

Canonization of Opus Dei's founder

John Paul II canonized Escriva on 6 October 2002. 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. According to Catholic officials, one-third of the world's bishops petitioned for the canonization of Escriva.

Critics, on the other hand, say that the process of canonization was lightning fast and plagued with irregularities. Opus Dei allegedly pressured and bought bishops to write glowing reports about Escriva.

On the other hand, Catholic officials state that it was the promoters' efficiency and the Vatican reforms on the canonisation process that made the process seem fast, although in terms of materials and number of sessions it was the longest to date.

For a fuller discussion, please see the article on Josemaria Escriva.

Opus Dei in society

Two perspectives

There are two perspectives in viewing Opus Dei's role in society. One perspective sees Opus Dei as God's Work performing a divine operation which mobilizes Christians to sanctify secular realities from within. Opus Dei, in this view, does not act as a group. It is essentially a spiritual, catechetical agency of the Roman Catholic Church in charge of forming people so they can act autonomously and with personal responsibility "to put Christ on top of all human activitites," as their founder says.

The other perspective alleges that Opus Dei is a group of people who are after power and influence, using manipulation and secrecy to further their own personal ends. Opus Dei, according to this view, has a well-organized, authoritarian structure to achieve its conservative political agenda in the world. This view sees Opus Dei as controversial due to the flaws that are inherent to the organization itself.

Opus Dei's professed mission in society

The first perspective is connected to Escriva's teaching that Opus Dei is interested in evangelizing people of all social classes: "Out of a hundred souls, we are interested in one hundred." [39] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/furrow/point/183) Opus Dei’s Statutes says that the goal of Opus Dei is to bring about that persons of all walks of life, first of all the intellectuals, practice Christianity through the sanctification of their work "so that all things will be put in order according to the Will of the Creator." (2.1 and 2.2; See Fuenmayor 1994, p. 610-611)

According to Vittorio Messori in his book Opus Dei: Leadership and Vision in Today’s Catholic Church, Opus Dei’s manner of influencing society is based on the principle that "there is no way of improving humanity other than improving human beings—one by one, and profoundly." Also, it follows the strategy of emphasizing the evangelization of the intelligentsia because, he says, it is "a banal observation, today more than ever, that society arrives at the majority of its ideas and modes of behavior by way of the intellectuals." (p. 111; 177)

So that the sanctification of society can take place through sanctification of work, the Opus Dei prelature provides what they call "professional formation." According to them, this formation stresses the following: hard work, study, cultural and professional development, human warmth and refinement in interpersonal relations, ethical behavior, prudence, honesty, social responsibility, respect for freedom and pluralism, not making use of the Church for one's gain, and the priority of prayer. (Le Tourneau 2002, Romano 1995)

Activities and work

The largest part of the apostolic activity of the prelature is what the individual members do with their friends and colleagues in their respective communities and workplaces. Collective formative activities consist of religious retreats, recollections, and classes in Catholic doctrine.

Its members also undertake many social initiatives: Opus Dei operates several hospitals, clinics, schools, and inner-city tutoring programs. For example, in the United States, members operate one college and five secondary schools, and tutoring programs in Chicago, New York City, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.. The U.S. National Headquarters is in 243 Lexington Avenue (Lexington Avenue & E. 34th Street) New York.

In Spain, Saint Josemaría Escrivá himself founded the University of Navarra in 1959 which confers 27 degrees and administers more than 300 post-graduate programs and includes a teaching hospital.

For more information regarding corporate works of Opus Dei and apostolic initiatives of members of Opus Dei all over the world, please see [40] (http://opusdeisites.tripod.com/).

Allegations of secrecy and pursuit of power

On the other hand, Opus Dei has been alleged to function as a secret society which is out to gain power in the Catholic Church and in society.

In 1989, Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling for Power Within the Roman Catholic Church written by Michael Walsh, a former Jesuit, brought out several conspiracy theories about Opus Dei in which it was supposed to have been involved in scandals. There have also been rumours that some senior members of the U.S. judiciary and FBI are Opus Dei members.

Contrary to some other Catholic organizations in which all the teachings and writings of the founder are public, in Opus Dei there is a body of teachings, norms, and writings that are restricted to its members and are not public; even between members, there are different levels of the literature that they have access to. For example, the teachings and instructions for numeraries would not be available to supernumeraries, et cetera, much less to the general public.

Gomez Perez, author of Opus Dei: Una Explicación (1992) says that Opus Dei does not in general comment on who is or is not a member, following the practice of other Catholic organizations, dioceses and other private groups. "Opus Dei," he says, "has the obligation to respect its members privacy." He says that the prelature "has no right to communicate the fact of membership if the person in question does not permit it. To confuse this with 'secrecy' is to be unwilling to recognize the standard practice of any organization with voluntary contracts," since Opus Dei members are incorporated by private bilateral contracts and not by public vows.

Like members of private clubs, the faithful of Opus Dei's membership is known by their relatives and close friends. Membership of public personalities can be known by the person's own public declaration. See also: List of prominent members of Opus Dei. According to supporters, Michael Walsh's theories were thoroughly answered by William O'Connor's Opus Dei: An Open Book. A Reply to the Secret World of Opus Dei by Michael Walsh.

Critics also fear what they see as Opus Dei’s continuing pursuit of power and influence. The Religious Movements Homepage summarized these views: "The rapidly growing influence of Opus Dei within the Vatican as well as in powerful institutions around the world have also caused critics to worry and become suspicious of the actions of the group. Some people worry about the high numbers of Opus Dei members who have infiltrated professional organizations, in particular education and the media. In fact, ‘members are urged to aim for influential positions in politics, the economy, and the arts. They are encouraged to advance to those positions in their profession that have a multiplier effect and through which the association could Christianize society in the Opus Dei manner.’ Some members hold powerful positions in their countries' governments, which causes critics to have concern over Opus Dei's increasing influence.

The irony of most criticism of Opus Dei is that the majority of critics agree that the members are basically good people, yet they are people with dangerously astray intentions." [41] (http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/dei.html#27)

Supporters say that the accusations that Opus Dei is a secret society which seeks power are rooted in attacks started in the 1940s by ecclesiastics. (See section on Novelty of doctrine and controversies). They also cite Escriva’s words when he was asked about Opus Dei’s influence in society in 1967. Their founder acknowledges that after years of apostolic work in a country, Opus Dei should have a "social impact." However, he states that this influence is not socio-economic nor political but a spiritual and ethical one, where members both rich and poor, by doing their work with a desire for perfection, build a society which is more human, just and progressive.

These members, he says, do not need to infiltrate sectors of society, since they receive God's call in their place of work. They are already there, he says. It is a simple, upright way that is difficult for people who have complicated minds to understand. He also states that the influence of the Church in a country does not start when a Catholic is elected President, and he points to the case of John F. Kennedy in the US. (Conversations 19; 66)

Political pluralism and Opus Dei

Opus Dei states that it takes no side in politics. "Respect for its members' freedom is an essential condition for Opus Dei's very existence," said Escriva. "There are no dogmas in temporal matters," he says. "If Opus Dei had been involved in politics, even for an instant," he once wrote, "in that moment of error I would have left Opus Dei." (Le Tourneau 1989, p. 49)

V. Messori says that Escriva set up inviolable and perpetual rules to establish the essential conditions for Opus Dei's life. Among them is this clause from the Statutes: "Each faithful of the Prelature enjoys the same liberties as other Catholic citizens in what concerns professional activity, social, political doctrines, etc. The authorities of the Prelature, however, must abstain from giving any counsel in matters of this nature. Therefore this full liberty can be diminished only by the norms that apply to all Catholics and are established by the bishop or Bishop's Conference." (88.3)

After investigating into the actual implementation of these rules and spirit, Messori concludes that (1) the members of Opus Dei receive nothing else but spiritual advice, (2) they do not operate as a herd in political affairs, but (3) consider respect for pluralism in matters not concerning the faith one way of obeying a central conviction of the founder. (See Messori 1997, p. 175)

Allegations of involvement in far-right politics

Opus Dei's political pluralism is contested by its critics. They say that there are connections between Opus Dei and right-wing organizations. They present the following allegations:

  • There was mutual support between Opus Dei and Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain who was assisted by Nazi Germany into power. Escriva joined Franco’s insurgent generals at the end of the Spanish Civil War. And in 23 May 1958, he wrote a letter showing support for Franco, whose military regime brought about the death of thousands of Spaniards. Critics also refer to the many Opus Dei members who were appointed to the Spanish government during Franco’s rule which lasted from 1939-1975. These appointments were a sign of Opus Dei’s penetration into the higher echelons of the regime. Opus Dei, according to these critics, has ambitions of playing a strong political role, like the one played by the Spanish Inquisition. The Columbia Encyclopedia says that “In the 1950s and 60s it replaced the Falange as the most important conservative political and religious force in Spain. Its influence there, however, has waned since the early 1970s.” However, in the recent government of José María Aznar (1996-2004) there have been several ministers who are members of the Opus Dei, as well as the State's General Attorney (Jesús Cardenal).
  • Fr. Vladimir Felzmann, a former Opus Dei member who is presently working as a priest in a parish in England, quoted Escriva as saying that Adolf Hitler “couldn’t have been such a bad person. He couldn't have killed six million. It couldn't have been more than four million.” Felzmann quotes Escriva as having said: "Hitler against the Jews, Hitler against the Slavs, this means Hitler against communism." This alleged statement was cited by the international press and still did not bar Escriva's canonization.
  • Opus Dei had relations with Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator of Chile from 1973-1990.

On the other hand, supporters reply with the following:

  • Escriva rejected the clerical, single-party mentality of many Spanish Catholics. This narrow mind-set was projected on to Opus Dei by Spanish commentators who were accustomed to a monolithic approach to politics among Catholic organizations, for they have not yet grasped the novelty of its teachings on freedom and personal responsibility. In his letter to Franco written 8 years after the Allies recognized his government, Escriva stated that “although a stranger to any political activity,” he wrote Franco to encourage the Spanish government for having decided to follow the law of God according to the Catholic faith, and thus, his supporters say, he was encouraging respect for human rights. Historians state that Franco's Falange persecuted Opus Dei members, driving to exile some members who would later lead Spain's democracy. Dr. Peter Berglar, a German historian, says that it is a "gross slander" to connect Opus Dei with Franco and fascism. V. Messori said that an Opus Dei dominated Franco regime is "a myth" given that of the 116 ministers in its history there were only 8 members of Opus Dei.
  • Felzmann's statements, supporters say, are a “patent falsehood,” contradicting his written testimony that Escriva is “a saint for today.” Many witnesses say that Escriva denounced Hitler as a tyrant and a persecutor of Jews. Contrary to the current practice in Spain, he boldly condemned Nazism as a pagan, racist and totalitarian aberration.
  • The Pinochet-Opus Dei relationship is all made up, supporters say. Not any different from other Catholic faithful, many members are also involved in left-wing and centrist politics all over the world, making it impossible for all the members to have one political agenda.

For a fuller discussion with citations and sources, please see Opus Dei and Allegations of Involvement in Far-right Politics.

Revolutionary or conservative?

The debate about Opus Dei and its role in politics continues. The two diametrically opposed positions can be seen in how they interpret point 353 of Escriva's The Way:

Nonsectarianism. Neutrality. Those old myths that always try to seem new. Have you ever bothered to think how absurd it is to leave one's Catholicism aside on entering a university, or a professional association, or a scholarly meeting, or Congress, as if you were checking your hat at the door? [42] (http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way/point/353)

Critics say that this type of counsel makes it impossible for Opus Dei members to be free in political matters. [43] (http://www.odan.org/escriva_to_franco.htm) This type of teaching, they say, puts Opus Dei members squarely on the political right: a conservative influence in world affairs. [44] (http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/011802/011802f.htm)Supporters say, on the other hand, that Opus Dei members practice maximum pluralism within the catholicity of their faith and that it is through fidelity to this faith that "the greatest revolution of all time will take place," in what they see as the prophetic vision of Opus Dei's founder. [45] (http://www.murrayhillinstitute.org/Pages/conference_2002.html).

Many writers, whether they have taken a stand that Opus Dei is God's revolutionary Work or a conservative group of power-seekers, or have decided to take another kind of stand or not to take a stand at all, have presented these varying views about Opus Dei.

Historical timeline

  • 1917: Escriva receives "inklings" of a special call
  • 1928: October 2. Founding of Opus Dei
  • 1930: February 14. Founding of the Women's branch of Opus Dei
  • 1939: The Way, Escriva's spiritual considerations, is first published. Opus Dei started to expand to other cities outside of Madrid
  • 1940: December 8. Opus Dei is publicly denounced as a heresy
  • 1941: Opus Dei is granted first diocesan approval by the Bishop of Madrid
  • 1943: February 14. Founding of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross
  • 1946: Beginning of Opus Dei in Portugal, Italy, and England. Escriva moves to Rome to establish the headquarters of Opus Dei
  • 1949: Opus Dei spreads overseas. It starts in Mexico and the United States
  • 1950: June 16. Opus Dei is given final and complete approval by Pius XII
  • 1962: Start of the Second Vatican Council, which proclaims the universal call to holiness
  • 1975: June 26. Death of the founder. Alvaro del Portillo, his closest associate, is elected as his successor
  • 1982: November 28. Establishment of Opus Dei as personal prelature. John Paul II appoints del Portillo as prelate
  • 1992: May 17. Beatification of the founder, a highly criticized event
  • 1994: Msgr. Javier Echevarria is appointed by John Paul II as the second successor of Escriva after the death of del Portillo
  • 2002: October 6. Canonization of the founder. John Paul II calls Escriva "the saint of ordinary life"

(See Berglar 1994, p. 202, 327-330, passim; Coverdale 2002, Vasquez de Prada 1999 and other biographies)

For a longer timeline, please see Opus Dei: A Historical Timeline

References and readings

Writings of the founder

Studies about Opus Dei: monographs

  • Template:Book reference -- A study of Opus Dei based on the life story and work of its founder written by Dr. Berglar, a professor of history at the University of Cologne and published by Scepter, an Opus Dei publishing house
  • Template:Book reference -- a French scholar's authoritative synthesis
  • Template:Book reference -- an investigation (Una indagine, the original Italian title) done by a famous journalist who interviewed John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope
  • Template:Book reference -- a study of an Italian essayist
  • Template:Book reference -- University Professor of Anthropology explains various aspects of Opus Dei
  • Template:Book reference -- a 5-year research in 10 countries conducted by a senior journalist and deputy editor of the Australian
  • Template:Book reference -- the first serious study on Opus Dei to be published, written by a prolific French journalist, a Laureate of the Academie Francaise whose works have been translated to four languages
  • Template:Book reference

Theological and juridical studies

History and biography

  • Jose Orlandis, History of the Catholic Church, Four Courts Press, 1993. ISBN 1-85182-125-2 -- highlights of Church history
  • George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harpercollins, 1999. ISBN 006018793X
  • Andres Vasquez de Prada: The Founder of Opus Dei. The Life of Josemaria Escrivá, Scepter Publishers 1997.
  • John Coverdale: Uncommon Faith: The Early Years of Opus Dei (1928-1943), Scepter Publications, 2002. ISBN 188933474X


  • Alvaro del Portillo, Cesare Cavalleri, Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei As Seen by His Successor, Bishop Alvaro Del Portillo, Scepter Publishers 1996 ISBN 0933932855
  • Template:Book reference -- damning indictment of Opus Dei by a former high-flying member of the organization
  • B. Badrinas, ed., Testimonies on Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei, Sinag-tala 1992. – collection of some testimonies given by ecclesiastical officials which were used for the beatification process.
  • Pedro Casciaro, Dream and Your Dreams will Fall Short, Princeton 1998


  • Francis Fernandez: In Conversation with God, Scepter Publications, 1993. ISBN 0906138191 (7 volume set)
  • Michael Walsh: Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling for Power Within the Roman Catholic Church, Harper San Francisco, 1989. ISBN 0060692685
  • Bowers, Fergus: The Work - An Investigation into Opus Dei in Ireland ISBN 1-85371-037-7
  • O'Connor, William: Opus Dei: An Open Book. A Reply to the Secret World of Opus Dei by Michael Walsh, Mercier 1991
  • Elaine Shannon and Ann Blackman, The Spy Next Door : The Extraordinary Secret Life of Robert Philip Hanssen, The Most Damaging FBI Agent in US History, Liittle Brown, 2002 ISBN 0-316-71821-1

External links

Catholic Church sites and sites supporting Opus Dei:

Sites critical of Opus Dei:


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