Questions about Opus Dei

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I have been asked to add this link to my side-column. I do not believe I shall do so, but I put it here for those who would like to investigate what is said about Opus Dei. I really don't know what to make of either the prelature or its detractors and I would be interested in hearing from persons who know better than I do what is going on.

Later: Mr. Cork made clear that I should express my purpose in posting this link more clearly. It is this--I don't know enough about Opus Dei to say anything whatsoever informed about them. However, I have long heard rumors about "dark practices" among the group--among these practices the use of "the discipline" and other things that seem foreign to modern sensibilities. Whether or not these things constitute real problems I suppose has yet to be seen. However, this site points out many of the "rumors" I have heard and I think it would be wise for those with greater understanding that I have to address some of the things this site presents as fact. I do not intend to detract from Opus Dei nor from its founder St. Josemaria Escriva whose works I read and whose spirituality of work I truly admire.

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Opus Dei is an official ministry of the Catholic Church, endorsed by every pope who knew St. Josemaria. ODAN, on the other hand, has set itself up for the sole purpose of attacking a ministry of the Catholic Church. So, why link to it?

Dear Mr. Cork,

The link won't be permanent (i.e. in my side column). I don't know much about either group and I don't understand all that is happening with the two which is why it is helpful to hear from people like you. I think it's important to know all that we can, both positive and negative and to be aware of what is said that is negative and untrue so as to be prepared to refute it, if necessary.

Being a legitimate ministry set up by the Church does not necessarily mean that there are not abuses going on (witness our crisis of last summer). Watchdogs are useful if they are reporting what is factually verifiable and truthful. My point is to see what, if any veracity is present in this group.

Thanks for writing.



Best way to get answers is to ask Opus Dei. Or go to their webpage. They're very open with answering questions. I'm not one, but have an OD spiritual director and go on OD retreats. Yes, numeraries practice traditional methods of corporal mortification, including fasting, self-denial, and, indeed, cilice and discipline. These are a part of traditional Carmelite spirituality, too, as well as of most traditional asceticism. Catholics as diverse as St. John Vianney, Thomas Merton and Mother Theresa have engaged in the same disciplines. OD members I know have compared it to working out at a gym -- which can be much harder on your body. Such ascetical practices are only undertaken under the supervision of a spiritual director (I should add that my own spiritual director has only recommended such practices as giving up coffee during Lent).

On some of the other issues: obedience, giving to the community--these are practiced by every religious order. A member of a liberal women's Dominican community laughed once and said, "ODAN's criticisms on these points would apply to us as well."

I wouldn't have thought that the best way to determine whether a group you don't know much about has questionable practices is to ask the group.

I mean, how do you answer the question, "Do you unduly pressure people to join?"

I've never understood why papal endorsement would imply universal impeccability in an international organization. I see no reason the testimonials of former numeraries and the self-representation of Opus Dei can't both be true.

FWIW, about a year ago, on his live call-in radio show "Scripture Matters Live" (Mondays @ 9pm), during his response my question, Scott Hahn mentioned that he is a supernumerary in Opus Dei. I find it hard to believe someone so visible and as serious about his spiritual life would join if there was evidence of a 'dark side.'

Dear Mr. Cork,

I use a meditation guide by a member of Opus Dei (In Conversation with God). I have profound respect, admiration, and even something of awe with regard to St. Josemaria Escriva, and yet my introduction to and the majority of questions from others focus on just these kinds of issues. The fact that conversation has opened up and that this group I have never heard of actually has a reputation out there that bespeaks something of their repute (for a change) has already made this a worthwhile endeavor. If more can add to this, so much the better. The only real defence against calumny is certain knowledge and experience. We don't need to answer charge for charge, but we need to set the charges in the right light. I don't know the purpose of ODAN, but I don't know that what they do they do from malice so much as perhaps from ignorance (not in the culpable sense) and fear. Whatever they do, we do well to address it.

I have always put a great deal of trust in the promise that "by their fruits ye shall know them." The fruits I have received and perceived in Opus Dei have been well-formed, good, and nourishing. Their founder is a Saint, but I have spoken with many who have recounted to me stories that parallel these. As with any group there can be undue pressure that the group doesn't even realize it is exerting. So, there are different views of the practices. That's why I thank those who know better for contributing to our understanding.
And thank you especially for sharing your personal experience.



You may be interested in Matt's Opus Dei FAQs

Dear Peony,

Thank you. That link WILL go into the side column.



I do find it annoying how American Opus Dei folks try to distance themselves from Franco. The mutual respect between El Caudillo and San Josemaria is one of the reasons that I hold Opus Dei in such high esteem. The work that Opus Dei folks did in ridding Spain of the brutal Communist/Anarchist menace is something they should take great pride in.

Why betray Franco with nonsense like this answer from the fellow in the link? Franco was good for them, good for Spain, and good for the Catholic Church. Why betray him because of some fetish for "democracy"? I find this very sad.

Dear Erik

I have insufficient evidence to contest your claims, and would not wish to do so in any case. However, the opinion you hold is very definitely a minority opinion; hence the need to explain to the majority who do value democracy why Opus Dei isn't an abettor to a repressive (or otherwise) dictatorship.



P.S. Look for a forthcoming post on Alban Berg particularly directed toward you.

Although there were members of Opus Dei who worked in the Franco government (and later helped with the successful, peaceful transition to democracy), my understanding is that Opus Dei as a group was hardly kissy-poo with Franco and that it was sometimes in hot water with the Franco government. One story I've heard is that it was common for members of political parties and other associations to wear badges, but members of Opus Dei did not (since that was completely against its purpose.) Some people therefore concluded that Opus Dei was a subversive secret society (of the international Masonic-Communist-Jewish conspiracy variety) and denounced it to the government.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 17, 2004 7:25 AM.

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