Randy Engel
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part IV
The dangers Opus Dei poses to the Knights and the Faith
By Randy Engel
May 14, 2024


Thus far, the reader has been provided with key background information on the activities of the Knights of Columbus in modern times, information which will become all the more relevant as we begin to examine how, when, where and how Opus Dei secured a foothold on the multi-billion dollar business/charity known as the Knights of Columbus. But the Knights are only half of the takeover equation. The Prelature of Opus Dei is the other half.

In this segment of the series I will present some of the lesser known, but exceedingly vital facts associated with the “Work”– aspects related to the spiritual as well as the corporate foundation of Opus Dei, again with the intention of providing background material for the reader that will put the Prelature’s successful capture of the Knights of Columbus in a more intelligible and lucid context. Hopefully, it will also demonstrate why the Knights need to divest themselves of Opus control and interests, and carry out their own comprehensive program of external and internal reform.

What Opus Says About Itself

    Opus Dei is part of the Catholic Church. The name is Latin for “Work of God.” Opus Dei’s mission is to spread the Christian message that every person is called to holiness and that every honest work can be sanctified.”[1]

    The Institute named Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, abbreviated ’Opus Dei,’ is an Institute for Christian Perfection of the secular world consecrated to the acquisition and exercise of apostolates.[2]

    In everything we do we must all of us (priests and lay people), have a truly priestly soul and a fully lay outlook, if we are to understand and use in our personal lives that freedom which we enjoy in the sphere of the Church and in temporal things, considering ourselves at one and the same time citizens of the CITY OF GOD and citizens of the City of Man.[3] Msgr. Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei

    The Work was thus the first association in the Church that fraternally opened its arms to all men, regardless of creed or [religious] confession. ...In the pastoral practice of the Church, never before had that unlocking and wide opening of doors been seen which incorporated the souls of its benefactors [of various religions], among whom were Protestants, schismatics, Jews, Muslims, and pagans. This doctrine, now widespread and consecrated by the Second Vatican Council, introduced in the year 1928 a revolution in theological, ascetical, and juridical concepts.[4] Writer Ana Sastre Gallego.

    Since this is the spirit of our Work [i.e. secularism], it will be understood that for us it has been a great joy to see how the Council has solemnly declared that the Church does not reject the world in which it lives, neither its progress and development, but rather understands and loves it. Besides, this is a central tenet of our spirituality that members of the Work have strived – for almost forty years – to live...[5] Escriva as quoted by Spanish historian and Opus numerary Andres Vazquez de Prada.

    A supremely well-balanced association, formed by persons of undisputed morality and professionalism at all levels of a nation’s political, economic, and social life, Opus Dei thus strives to promote a new spirituality[6] adapted to the needs of the world today.[7] Needless to say, the whole edifice of Opus Dei hangs on the exceptional, dynamic personality of Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer…[8] French academic Jean Jacques Thierry.

    My Vocation is the same as yours [laypeople]. I never had any other one.”[9] Msgr. Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

    If members of the Work were to neglect their work in the world in order to carrybout ecclesiastical activities, the divine gifts they have received would be wasted and, through a misguided desire for immediate pastoral effectiveness, they would do real harm to the Church. For there would be fewer Christians dedicated to sanctifying themselves in the professions and trade of civil society, in the immense field of secular work. ... [Besides], There just isn’t any spare time.[10] Msgr. Escriva

What Critics and Opus Ex-Members Say:

    Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16.

    What began as a small charismatic group slowly changed by force of circumstances and by the spirit of its founder, into what could be called in sociological terms, a cult. Raimundo Panikkar, a founding father of Opus and ex-member.[11]

    … The ethos of Opus Dei is entirely self-centered, sectarian, and totalitarian. … Opus Dei is an Orwellian world employing much double-think and internal and external deception. Ex-Member of Opus Dei and English Professor Dr. John J. Roche.[12]

    The same money that is the source of perdition for the ones outside the sect is the source of sanctification for the Work, which transforms the accumulation of money into a sacramental activity: for this reason the member has to make money and give it to the sect.[13] Jose Maria Escriba (pseudonym).

    … affiliation in the Work requires absolute submission. The Father’s rule embraces everything. The children of Escriva are like the treadmill donkeys: one turn, more turns, tied to the pole that moves the treadmill, they are tied to the Father; they have no power to act, … they cannot think anything that is against the Father’s magnetic personality. We can say that they live as if they were drugged.[14] Ex-member, Nicolas Cobo Martinez.

    The reality is that Opus Dei, like Vatican II, advocates a liberal spirituality that calls for the full reconciliation between the Church with the principles of the Revolution or in the words of Pope Leo XIII, of attempting to reconcile “Christ and Belial.”[15] Therefore, while they outwardly preach a strict adherence to doctrine, with their liberal principles and radically lay-secular mentality, they simultaneously undermine that which they claim to profess.[16] Santiago (pseudonym).

Obviously, as these brief adulations and criticisms demonstrate, there are two irreconcilable spiritualities, aka, St. Augustine’s City of God and City of Man,[17] and many conflicting heterodox practices associated with the “Work” which will be examined in the next two segments of this series.

For Part IV, the critical ecclesiastical 2023 Complaint will be used as the author’s foundational document, to be followed in Part V by additional evidence of Opus Dei’s institutional corruption and ambitions of power, influence and control, both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church, which made its takeover of the Knights of Columbus possible. Please note that italic print is used to identify statements taken from the Complaint.

An Institutional Complaint Against Opus Dei

On June 26, 2023, a confidential Letter of Transmission titled an “INTERNATIONAL ECCLESIASTICAL INSTITUTIONAL COMPLAINT AGAINST OPUS DEI FOR REGUATORY FRAUD AGAINST THE HOLY SEE AND THE MEMBERS THEMSELVES”[18] was sent to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See in Spain.[19] The Complaint complete with a massive dossier of supplementary documentation was presented by the Spanish lawyer Antonio Moya Somolinos, himself a 42-year former member of Opus Dei, on behalf of the multitude of Opus Dei priests and lay members including numeraries, associate numeraries (oblates),[21] auxiliary associates,[22] supernumeraries,[23] and coordinators,[24] (and the supersecret inscripti[25]) and their families who have been spiritually, mentally, and materially deceived and abused by the leadership of the Prelature.

The key word in the Complaint title is “institutional,” that is, the deception and harm caused by the government of Opus Dei has been formal, systemic, and dangerous. The drafters of the 20-page Complaint, all baptized Catholics, acknowledge that there are many good and faithful Catholics in Opus Dei, and that it is these members especially who need the protection of the Holy See from Opus Dei which has fallen into the “Structure of Sin.”[26]

Named in the Letter of Transmission as perpetrators of the abuses of power and regulatory fraud are the current President General and Prelate Fernando Ocariz Brana, and Opus officers in Rome and members of the Regional Commissions including Regional Vicars, and Vicar-Priest Secretaries Delegates of the Prelature.[27]

Opus Dei Accused of Regulatory Fraud

As explained in the Complaint’s opening synopsis, the main reason for the action taken against the Prelature is that Opus has committed gross regulatory offenses against the Church, its hierarchy, and Opus members:

    This situation has allowed the [current and until recently held secret] 1982 Statutes[28] – the legal governing document of Opus Deito be de facto replaced by 46 (forty-six) “internal” documents/books [some set in several volumes] with a normative character. The daily government of Opus Dei is based on these documents [known as the Codex lures Particularis of St. Josemaria[29]] which laid the foundation for the systematic violation of respect for the dignity of the person through abuses of power, conscience, and spirit. In the process, God is replaced by the founder, the charism is confused with the institution, and an appropriation is made biased towards said charism – which belongs to the Holy Spirit for the service of the Church. …. As a consequence, Opus has acquired a sectarian drift resembling a destructive sect within the Catholic Church.[30]

Throughout its 96-year old history, Opus has experienced various modes of governance. In 1950, Pope Pius XII approved of Opus Dei as the first Secular Institute of the Church. It was ruled initially by Constitutions.[31] On September 14, 1970, Opus held a Special General Council at its headquarters in Rome with a Technical Commission led by Escriva and Msgr. later Bishop Alvaro de Portillo, Escriva’s confessor of 40 years and his future successor.[32] An internal governance document consisting of 194 Articles and later known as the Codex luris Particularis, was drafted, approved, and signed into law by the founder on October 1, 1974.

In keeping with Escriva’s passion for secrecy, the very existence of the 1974 Codex, which continues to dictate all imaginable life and rules and regulations of the Work, was kept a well-guarded secret. It was not divulged or translated from the Latin to the vernacular by force of the founder’s edict secret from Opus’ general membership, which is a violation of members’ right to know the true nature of their lifelong commitment to Opus Dei, and perhaps, even more importantly, secret from the Holy See [an act] which constitutes a crime and a violation of the pontifical right to legislate.[33] The Complaint correctly calls the purposeful institutional concealment of the Codex an act of “legislative usurpation.[34]

It wasn’t until 2007 that the Codex made a brief public appearance on the Madrid website of Opuslibros,[35] founded by the intrepid ex-Opus Spanish numerary and journalist Agustina López de los Mozos Muñoz. The complete 46 books that compromised the secret Codex was given to Mozos by a group of Opus Dei members, including some directors, who believed that members, and potential members of Opus Dei, have the general right to know the contents of the now translated documents that regulate Opus Dei life down to the smallest, most intimate and arcane details such as the days in a year when [female] numeraries are prohibited from wearing stockings or from wearing shoes that show the toes.[36]

Lawyers for the Prelature immediately sued Mozos on the grounds of violation of copyright laws and intellectual property rights and demanded the removal of the entire set of copies of the 46 books from the Opuslibros site. On March 19, 2008, the matter of the lawsuit was brought to the attention of the Holy See which had no knowledge that there existed a corpus of internal and external regulatory documents that were actively being used in the governing of the Prelature in parallel (and in many cases, in opposition to) the official Statutes that Opus had publicly accepted in 1982. On January 24, 2013, the Courts ordered the Director of Opuslibros to remove the controversial documents. The one salutary feature of the long-drawn out legal battle was that Opus lawyers were forced to admit that that the documents in question were authentic and the copyright was inherited from the founder.[37]

The burning question here is, “What was the leadership of Opus Dei so desperate to conceal?” The answer is, “the Codex lures Particularis of St. Josemaria reveals spiritual texts that are mixed with crimes against conscience and a pattern of absolute control and hyperregulation of its members leading to suicides and other forms of mental, emotional, and physical distress not excluding the loss of the Catholic faith.[38]

The Complaint stresses that this fraud extends to all levels of Opus government and has metastasized the whole body thereby harming not only the Church but the State and Civil Society as well. The following excerpts from the Complaint [with a minimum of grammatical changes] demonstrate the nature and extent of the charges brought against the Work – which in the colloquial – has turned out to be a dangerous piece of Work.

  • The Structure of Opus Dei

    The group is united by a doctrine that is transmitted in a “messianic way” and is led by a charismatic figure who considers himself the possessor of the Absolute Truth.[39]

    The structure of the group is theocratic, vertical and totalitarian.[40]

    The main activities of the group are proselytizing and collecting money.[41]

  • Divinization of the of Founder

    The ideologization of the figure of the founder is a worrying issue within Opus Dei. There is an appropriation of the charism and a confusion between the charism and the institution, implying that the charism is identified with the ways that the founder established to institutionalize it. The excessive institutionalization and personalization leads to its prevalence over the figure of the Pope and the bishops, even giving their opinions a value of theological faith.[42]

    The great obstacle for Opus Dei to deploy the service to the Church to which it is called is its own founder, who is ideologized to the point that, apart from official words and declarations, followers follow him instead of Jesus Christ.

    In Opus Dei’s internal training facilities, it is always said, that for them, “our Father (Saint Josemaria) is Christ passing by.” They see Jesus Christ incardinated in the figure of the founder.[43] … Overtime, the messianic character of the founder was extended to the institution itself.[44]

  • Using the Church to Gain Power

    The founder always maintained that “Opus Dei serves the Church as the Church wants to be served.” It is not what is manifested in the facts. It is perceived that Opus Dei has always used and tries to use the Church... as a political entity to achieve its ambitions for power within it.[45]

    Self-referentiality is a worrying characteristic in Opus Dei, This attitude is reflected in the way it shows a lack of openness toward the universal Church, and a tendency to look for its own interests and ambitions for power. This attitude is reflected in the way they relate to ecclesiastical authority, usurping the jurisdiction of bishops and systematically disobeying them.[46]

    The truth is often misrepresented , especially in relation to apostolic activity, which is not such, but proselytizing-sectarian, aimed solely at achieving more members and greater power within the Church.[47]

  • Protecting the Institution Over the Truth

    This identification of the institution with God has consequences that disturb and destroy the moral order… Within Opus Dei, a single “moral norm” seems to prevail: the end (of Opus Dei) justifies the means. Any deviation from the moral order ends up being considered virtuous to the extent that it benefits the institution.[48]

    Along these lines, there are lies about suicides (mentioning that the person died “by accident”), departure of members (preferably saying that he ran away with someone of the opposite sex), venereal diseases in [Opus] priests,[49] and the cover-up of crimes, especially pedophilia committed by Opus members, etc.[50]

  • The Damage of Aggressive Proselytism

    In Opus Dei an aggressive proselytism is practiced that only seeks to increase the number of members at all costs, regardless of the spiritual and conscience damage that is created with such action, creating all kinds of scruples and erroneous consciences about one’s life.[51]

  • Replacing the Individual Conscience With the Escrivarian Conscience

    It is important to note that in Opus Dei there is a supplanting of discernment and individual conscience, as well as a systematic violation of the personal sphere and privacy of the people who are involved in Opus Dei.[52]

    This supplanting of individual discernment is done consciously through what the founder called an “inclined plane [a ramp].”[53] Through this process the will and intimacy of those who join the institution is gradually weakened, leaving them psychologically and spiritually vulnerable and deprived of their own discernment. They are progressively oriented to identify more with the institution than with Christ, and are made to believe that “God’s will is manifested through the directors.[54]

  • Opus Dei Violations of the Seal of Confession

    According to canon 630 of the Code of Canon Law, a series of precepts are established related to respect for the freedom of conscience of members of religious institutes with regard to the right to choose a confessor and spiritual director. ... However, in Opus Dei this precept is systematically violated, there being a constant flow of conscience information, between the directors and those who carry out the spiritual direction of the members, who are designated by the directors. The secrecy of confession has even been violated, which has led to the resignation of several priests of the Prelature.[55]

    Opus Dei has always carried out the obligation to render an account of conscience and to do so with whomever the directors designate. This practice is carried out weekly for numeraries and associates and every two weeks for supernumeraries.[56]

    Frequently, there is an intolerable invasion of the privacy and conjugal life of supernumeraries by the institution through denunciation from the spiritual director and sometimes violating the seal of confession.[57]

    The testimony of the secularized numerary priest, Don Antonio Esquivias, in his book Heaven in a Cage is illuminating. In this book he narrates in first person his experience in the [Opus Dei] Regional Commission of Spain, where he managed the reports of conscience written by Spanish numerary members, including such details such as the frequency with which they masturbated.[58]

  • Psychiatric Pharmaceuticals at the Service of the Work

    ... The most painful consequences of the abuses in Opus Dei are, perhaps, the suicides and the people who have abandoned the faith after leaving the institution. However, it is also important to address the abuses in the field of psychiatric medicine, used to break the will of those who dare to express any discrepancy regarding the institutional inconsistencies they have observed.[59]

    These abuses are abundant, and their effect translate into the generation of depressions in members who previously enjoyed good health and psychological balance. Although it could be argued that there always have been people with certain psychological vulnerability and that this is also manifested in the religious sphere, the high portion of people under psychopharmacological treatment in Opus Dei is surprising, especially among numeraries, compared to other Church institutions.[60]

    In addition, these “methods” have been applied by physicians who are tenured members, some of whom are not specialists in psychiatry. Even more worrying is the fact that these doctors have left blank, signed prescriptions at the [Opus] centers, allowing in many cases the directors of the center, without being doctors, to prescribe drugs, thus violating the most basic principles of medical and (Christian) ethics. Its sole objective is to annul the will of the “dissenter” until turning him into a broken person, who in many cases has been returned to his parents after having ruined his life.[61]

    These types of practices and their devastating consequences are unacceptable and require deep reflection and a forceful response. It is essential to protect the integrity and emotional well-being of the members of any religious institution, promoting an environment of respect, understanding and support instead of resorting to coercive and abusive methods.[62]

  • Opus Dei is a False “Family”

    [Opus Dei] forces the institution to be considered a family. However, their idea of family differs from the true families of organic cooperators and members of the prelature. It tries to convey the idea of a family… whose supposed “rights” are controlled exclusively by the directors [who believe] that “Opus Dei is a family with supernatural ties… An opposition is established between the supposed “supernatural family” within Opus Dei, and the so-called “blood family,” generating a dynamic of exclusion instead of integration. The existence of internal terms such as “familosis” is even mentioned in training media, considering it an alleged “spiritual disease,” that represents an “attachment to the family as opposed to the vocation to Opus Dei.” [63]

    Opus Dei distances its members from family relationships, affective ties, and previous activities.[64]

    All adolescents were taught for decades to lie to their parents, denying their incorporation into Ous Dei, lying to attend the training media at the direction of the directors.[65]

  • Opus’ Role in Human Trafficking

    Among the many existing contradictions in the life of Opus Dei is the issue of auxiliary numeraries... victims of authentic slavery and human trafficking.[66]

    These women [and young girls who take a vow of celibacy depriving them of marriage and a family] ] have not received an adequate salary, nor have they decent work hours, nor have they ... human, cultural or professional promotion, nor have they been given a balanced working life, rest, vacation, or retirement. ... Although currently, due to various judicial sentences against Opus Dei, they have access to social security, the institution continues to violate and distort the truth in relation to the contributions of these women, who never charge for their work carried out in the institution. As one Opus male numerary judge told a journalist, “Opus Dei does not pay them, nor would he pay his sisters.”[67]

  • Sexual Abuse By Opus Members

    In recent years there have been several cases of sexual abuse by members of Opus Dei.[68] It should not be forgotten that sexual abuse always has its origin in a prior abuse of power, conscience, and spirituality, and that in the case of Opus Dei these abuses are institutionally induced due to relational asymmetry consciously promoted by the institution itself among those who direct and those who are not directors.[69]

    In other Church institutions, as in the case of Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ, the founder’s aberrations gave rise to direct intervention of the Holy See. Although Opus Dei has not experienced public scandals of this magnitude, that does not contradict the damage caused by an ideological founder. As we are seeing in this complaint, the damage to souls, the Church and to communion is equally serious, or even greater than in the aforementioned case.[70]

  • Opus Dei and the Code of Omertà

    ... A striking aspect of Opus Dei’s interpretation of the way of living morality and Christian doctrine is the concept of silence about any crime that is committed that may affect the “honor” of Opus Dei.[71]

    The criterion is experienced as a kind of Omertà. ... It implies “a categorical prohibition of cooperating with state authorities or using their services, even when one has been the victim of a crime.” A person must avoid interfering if they see something that is not correct and cannot report a crime to the authorities under any circumstances.[72]

    The reason that Opus Dei always gives to acting this way is that “dirty laundry is washed at home.”[73]

    We will only comment on cases that are publicly known. ... Along these lines, they have covered up: sexual abuse cases by Opus members in Chile, Spain, USA, Uruguay, Argentina; Provided safe harbor for fugitive Opus members guilty of embezzlement and fraudulent bankruptcies affecting thousands of victims in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Mexico; Crimes of illegal transfer of adults and minors through border crossings in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina; Falsification of documents; etc.... [74]

  • Opus Dei Falsifies and Hides Membership Data

    Article 29 of the (1982) Statutes of Opus Dei states that for someone to voluntarily leave the Prelature, a dispensation is required that can only be granted by the Prelate, having heard his own Council and the Regional Commission. ... This requirement for a member to leave the Prelature is questionable, since it is never provided in writing but through verbal communication without documentary evidence. This is done to manipulate the number of lay members to suit Opus Dei[75].

    Only Opus Dei directors have access to current membership data. Based on testimonies and articles in Opuslibros “Correspondence,” it is estimated that Opus Dei currently [as of June 2023] has no more than 40,000 members worldwide including lay people and priests. Very far from the 93,784 that appear in the aforementioned Annuario Pontificio 2023.[76]

    Opus Dei has been known for always lying about the number of its members [no stats available on Opus’ member attrition and priest laicization rates] as recognized in The History of Opus Dei [2022] by numeraries John Coverdale and José Gullón. In that book, page 447. it has been publicly recognized that the 60,00 0members that Opus Dei has always maintained existed at the time of death of the founder were actually 32,800.[77]

    In addition, there is a lack of credibility in the data provided by the Annuario Pontificio in relation to the priests incardinated into the Prelature. The Bulletin of the Roman Prelature is no longer published on paper, and does not include the names of deceased members. For years there has been more casualties of priests than new ordinations. Likewise, in recent years, applications for admission have been very scarce, especially for numeraries, in all the countries where they are established.[78] In 1984 the Pontifical Yearbook reported that Opus had 354 major seminarians. In 2023 only 95 appeared.[79]

    It is concluded that Opus Dei has used the importance of numbers to gain respectability and credibility, even at the cost of lying or living off income. This attitude of falsehood towards the Church, the State and Civil Society should be corrected....[80]

Massive Documents Accompany Complaint.

In addition to Annex 3, which contains the complete Codex listed by 46 separate titles that accompany the Complaint sent to the Madrid Papal Nuncio on June 26, 2023, there are other appendixes of great importance including: Annex 6 which contains information from the 20-year-old Opuslibros web site including the direct testimony of about 10,000 former Opus members; Annex 8 which contains the record of 35 online Zoom meetings exposing Opus’s malignant practices; and Annex 9 which presents the testimony of former auxiliary [servant] numeraries from around the world.

Of great value also, are the final pages of the Complaint (18-20) which spell out the case for the outright suppression of the Prelature as it is so thoroughly corrupted by its own internal arrogance and lies that self-reform is impossible.

(To be continued)


[1] Opus Dei – Questions about Opus Dei. See also 1. THE FOUNDING MOMENT OF OPUS DEI – Opus Dei.

[2] (N1-50) 195 Constitutions: Structure & Purpose. Reader can download the once secret Constitutions of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, Rome, 1950. In fact, Opus warps the term, “apostolate” which generally means an organization that propagates the Faith. Opus propagates Opus and its founder, Msgr. Escriva.

from the ODAN website at ODAN – ODAN Opus Dei Awareness Network.

[3] The quote is taken from Santiago at OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART IV) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com). His original source was a letter dated Fe. 2, 1945 by Escriva cited by Jose Luis Illanes, “The Church in the world: the secularity of the members of Opus Dei”, in Opus Dei in the Church, p. 165

[4] See Opus Dei – Su Verdadera Faz – Comentarios y Citas_en-GB.pdf – Google Drive. Source: Ana Sastre Gallego, Tiempo de Camino, Rialp [Opus Dei Publishers], Madrid, Spain, 1989, p. 610. According to Escriva, Opus had Jewish cooperators in the U.S. since 1948 who helped finance the Work. On Opus’ revolutionary spirit see p. 594.

[5] See Opus Dei – Su Verdadera Faz – Comentarios y Citas_en-GB.pdf – Google Drive. Source: Andres Vazquez de Prada, Fundador del Opus Dei, Rialp [Opus Dei Publishers], Madrid, Spain, 2002, p. 31. De Prada wrote a three-volume biography of Escriva printed by Opus Dei’s Scepter Press describing the founder’s early years, the founding of Opus Dei, and its mission.

[6] According to Santiago, the so-called “new spirituality” of Opus Dei, does not conform to any traditional form of spirituality within Catholicism, for either the lay or religious state. He states that the thoroughly secular aspect of Opus lay members “represents liberalism – naked and unadorned.” See OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART II) (mysteriuminiquitatis-thessalonians2.blogspot.com).

[7] Jean Jacques Thierry, Opus Dei – A Close-up, Cortland Press, NY, 1973, p. 95.Translated from the French by Gilda Roberts in 1975.

[8] Ibid., p. 23.

[9] Quote found in Sandiago, Part VI, “Escriba: a Vocation” to the world, not to Christ’s priesthood.” The source of the statement by Escriva, shortly before his death, is found in Salvador Bernal’s Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer – The Life of the Founder of Opus Dei, Rialp, Madrid, 1980, 6th edition, p. 104.

[10] See Escriva, Conversations with Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer, Shann, Ecclesia press, 1972, p. 61.

[11] Alberto Moncada, Historia oral del Op with us Dei, Plaza & Janes, Barcelona, Spain, 1987, p. 131.

[12] John J. Roche, “The Inner World of Opus Dei,” September 7, 1982.

[13] Jose Maria Escriba is the pen name for the author of Opus Judei – An exposition of Opus Dei, Orion Publications, Bogota, Columbia, 1994, p.12. The founder’s name on his baptismal certificate was Jose Maria Escriba y Albas, which indicated a name of Jewish, possibly Marrano, ancestry. Escriba was then changed to Escriva and then to Escriva de Balaguer y Albas. Later, Escriva purchased the title of the Marquisate of Peralta, who which he had no claim whatsoever. The reader will note, that from it’s very beginning, Opus was accused of being a Jewish branch of Masonry given its obsession with secrecy.

[14] Nicolas Cobo Martinez, Faro inconfundundinle, No. 23, June 1988. Escriva encourage “his children,” to be like treadmill donkeys, always walking, going in circles, but going nowhere. It is common to see a statue of Escriva’s donkey with a saddle in Opus residencies, a dead giveaway that it is an Opus facility. According to the critical biographer of Escriva, Luis Carandell, “The most striking characteristic of Opus Dei is the lack of critical spirit of its members in everything that refers to the Father and the divine origin of the Work.” See Luis Carandell. "Life and Limagros of the Founder of Opus Dei." FOREWORD TO THE 1992 EDITION (opuslibros.org).

[15] Custodi Di Quella Fede, 1892, Leo XIII’s encyclical on Freemasonry at Custodi di quella Fede (December 8, 1892) | LEO XIII (vatican.va). See also Leo XIII’s encyclical Humanun Genus at Humanum Genus (April 20, 1884) | LEO XIII (vatican.va).

[16] Santiago, p. 3. OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (Part I) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com).

[17] St. Augustine, The City of God [Complete edition] translated by Marcus Dods, Independently published, 2001 at The City Of God Complete Edition: Book I-XXII: Of Hippo, Saint Augustine, Dods, Marcus: 9798517880611: Amazon.com: Books.

[18] International_ecclesiastical_institutional_complaint_against_Opus_Dei_for_regulatory_fraud_against__the Holy_See_and_the_members_themselves.pdf (opus-info.org)

[19] Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza is the Pope’s Apostolic delegate to Spain.

[20] Numeraries, male and female, make up the second largest type of membership in Opus. They comprise about 20% of the total membership. They must be “intellectuals,” (six years of study of philosophy and theology) and have no infirmity or physical disfigurement They live celibate lives in Opus gender-segregated residences or centers and make themselves totally available to the Prelature. All their time, money, and energies are devoted to the Work. The needs of the Prelature come before any occupational or personal desires. Opus goes to extraordinary means to control their members, numeraries in particular. Numeraries are cash cows for Opus. They turn over their entire salaries to Opus Directors who in turn give them back a meager monthly salary. Once they make the Fidelity, the last stage of membership, all their possessions, property, and inheritances belong to the Prelature and are not returnable. Monies are spent at the discretion of the Prelate. After seven years membership, numeraries make out their wills to Opus. Author Robert Hutchison notes that wills are handwritten leaving blank the date, names of heirs, legatees, executors, and the fees to be paid to the executors. Nothing left to chance. Everything regimented. All mail, incoming and outgoing, is read and censored, as are their media contacts. Under the “virtue” of ”non-giving, they are forbidden to give gifts of any kind at any time to family members and friends, or to give alms to the poor. Although the term “culture” is an Opus Deo byword, Opus takes no part in enhancing the cultural life of its members. Numeraries engage weekly in corporal punishment including self-mortification and self-flagellation with the cilice and the discipline. As a result of their tightly regimented daily life, many numeraries become depersonalized stereotyped and shadows of their former self. Male numeraries form the clerical pool from which Opus draws its priests to serve Opus not Christ.

[21] Associate numeraries, (originally called oblates), by circumstance, live celibate lives outside Opus residences usually with their families, and are considered a lower class than regular numeraries. They attend philosophy and theological studies, but no advanced degrees are necessary. They can belong to any social class or profession, and may be ordered to the priesthood to serve Opus or directed to form a certain apostolate to promote Opus. Although they do not make themselves “fully” available to the Prelature, they do promote and recruit for Opus in their family and professional field.

[22] Auxiliary numeraries or associates are among the most controversial of Opus members and makeup a substantial number of ex-members. Although Escriva claimed that “We are all equal and we treat each other the same way,” this is obviously not true. These young teens and women are drawn from poor and uneducated families in foreign countries and trained to be servants at Opus residences and centers where they do menial and housekeeping tasks. They are forced to live celibate lives, thus giving up any hope of marriage and family. Escriva called them his “little daughters” who bring maternal love and peace to the Prelature. Unlike Opus’ well-dressed and professional female numeraries, these girls and women cook, clean, iron, etc. seven days a week for years on end. They get a “salary,” which they never see as Opus deducts for their room and board and basic needs. They have no money of their own and are never left alone, but must be accompanied by a female numerary when outside their residence. They wear uniforms on duty and thrift-priced quality clothing when at their houses. They rarely get to see their families as they have no vacation time or money for travel. In 2021, 43 auxiliary members filed a complaint with the Abuse section of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. See Opus Dei Ignores Complaint of 43 Women Held in Slavery | News | teleSUR English; and https://www.reddit.com/r/PastorArrested/comments/14nek5a/more_than_40_years_of_exploiting_girls_in_the/?rdt=44776.

[23] Supernumeraries are the mainstay of the Opus institute making up approximately 70% of the membership. They are usually married and provide the Prelature with loads of money; form numerous Opus “Apostolates”; and provide Opus with large numbers of human fodder in the form of children to serve the Prelature’s generational needs. They take partial vows. Whereas, Opus requires an account of conscience every week from its numeraries, supernumeraries confess to Opus Dei priests and meet with their spiritual directors every two weeks to discuss their Plan of Life – wives and widows meet separately at Opus female centers and husbands and widowers meet at male Opus residents. They never meet together. For this reason, married couples are more likely to have their spiritual and conjugal privacy violated along with the seal of confession by directors and priests who wish to compare notes on a particular family. Engaged couples who join the Prelature are likely to dissolve their relationship after they are convinced that God is calling them to become celibate numeraries and, in the case of the young men, a priest of Opus Dei. See EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy – Part 1 – (akacatholic.com) and EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy – Part 2 – (akacatholic.com). Opus instructs all its members to always observe a prudent silence as to the names of other members, and that they must never reveal to anyone that they themselves belong to the Opus Dei, not even for the sake of a perceived advancement of the institute. The exception are members who are selected by Opus to become the “public face” of the Work.

[24] Whether cooperators of Opus are actually counted as members of the Work is still debatable. They consist of general members of the public, not necessarily Catholic or even Christian, who wish to support the institute and fund its agenda. Some cooperators make useful idiots in criticizing blogs that are critical of Opus or in supporting articles written by [secret] Opus Dei members. The anonymity of cooperators makes large donations from questionable organizations and individual possible. Note that a “cooperator,” can be someone who might have been a numerary or supernumerary under normal circumstances, but whose public position as politician or an FBI agent, for example, might be compromised if he was known to be a formal member of Opus Dei. Such public figures can deny they are members of Opus Dei even though their children are registered in Opus private schools, they themselves have an Opus confessor and Opus spiritual director, and have taken a secret oath to advance and protect the Work.

[25] The real power in Opus Dei is held by its secret inscribed ruling class which numbers about 200 and consists of numeraries, select supernumeraries, and a small number of priests, all former numeraries. They form an intellectual or corporeal elite answerable only to the Prelate/President General. All electors in Opus governance are inscribed members, ages 30 or older, with at least nine years as incorporated members, and a record of outstanding devotion and loyalty to the Work. Opus Dei is also a “kingmaker,” in that it can encourage and finance relatively obscure people to take up positions of great power, aka, former Presidential Assistant Carl Anderson who rose to become one of the most influential Catholics in the world as Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

[26] See Complaint, p.7.

[27] In Opus Dei, absolute power is held by President-General chosen for life. He is followed by a Secretary-General and advised by a General Council of priests from different nation. In each country or region a Vicar-General is chosen by the Prelate as his representative.

[28] The November 28, 1982 Statutes given to Opus Dei by Pope John Paul II created the Work as a Personal Prelature (not as a Prelature Nullis that Escriva wanted).By 1974, the pope had already moved to change the Code of Canon Law to permit Opus to become a new evangelizing tool typical of the new times marked by Vatican II. Until the turn of the 21st century, the 1982 Statutes were never translated into the vernacular and were kept under lock and key, accessible only to select Opus directors and administrators. One of the key features of the 1982 Statutes was the provision that lay members of Opus were under the authority of the local bishop not the Opus Prelate, and only the clergy of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross were under the Prelate’s authority. Although Opus has always touted its role as part of the hierarchical Church, this claim was refuted by Pope Francis in his Letter “luvenescit Ecclesia” of May 16, 2016, which clearly states, “The Prelatures are ecclesial realities of a charismatic not a hierarchical nature.”

[29] The Codex lures Particularis of St. Josemaria activated one year before Escriva’s death which occurred on June 26, 1975.These texts are revered by Opus leaders as being more sacred than the Gospel itself. Exact copies of the texts are included in the Annex documents presented to the Holy See on June 26, 2023 in conjunction with the formal Complaint.

[30] Complaint, p.1.

[31] The 1950 Constitutions are available at https://odan.org/statutes_1950.

[32] See Opus Dei – Blessed Alvaro del Portillo. Portillo, thus Opus, played a key role in the preparatory stages of the Council, especially with regard to the theme of “the laity in the Church.” As Secretary General of Opus Dei he served on the preparatory Commission on the Laity, and later as Secretary of the Commission for Discipline of the Clergy and Christian People, as well as assisting as peritus in other Commissions.

[33] Complaint, Ibid., p. 6.

[34] Ibid., p. 6. Note that on May 18, 1884, the Vatican’s Holy Office issued a formal statement that “the prohibition of the Church concern all secret societies, regardless of whether or not they require an oath, because they are societies contrary to natural law.”

[35] The excellent Opuslibros website, Opus Dei – A Road to Nowhere with English translations is available at Opus Dei: A ROAD to Nowhere? (opuslibros.org). The organization has 10,000 direct testimonies of ex-Opus members.

[36] Complaint, p. 8.

[37] Ibid., p.4-5.

[38] Ibid., p.7.

[39] Ibid., p. 3.

[40] Ibid., p. 3

[41] Ibid., p. 3.

[42] Ibid., p. 10.

[43] Ibid., p. 20.

[44] Ibid., p. 3.

[45] Ibid., p. 11.

[46] Ibid., p. 11.

[47] The Complaint on page 11 makes reference to Opus Dei’s “apostolate,” Centro Académico Romano Foundation/CARF] [Roman Academic Center Foundation], whose theme is–“We work to bring God's smile to every corner of the world through priests and their formation”]. The project was one of many Opus “apostolates” created and blessed by Pope John Paul II for Opus. For additional details on this multi-million dollar enterprise operated by Opus out of Rome through the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and the University of Navarra in Spain, the latter is Opus’ largest recruiting center in the world, see Rosales: "CARF is moving forward because three saints are committed." (omnesmag.com), and About The CARF Foundation – CARF Foundation (fundacioncarf.org).

[48] Ibid., p. 8

[49] Ibid., p.8.

[50] Ibid., p. 7.

[51] Ibid., p. 15.

[52] Ibid., p. 7. See also Opus Dei Watch – December Issue – (akacatholic.com), “According to the Father’s Mind,” by “Heraldo,” Opuslibros, March 3, 2013. In this heart-rending story of a former numerary of Opus Dei, the author describes how, after leaving the Work for ten years, he managed to “reunite with himself.” Heraldo entered Opus Dei at the age of 14. By the age of 24 he was subjected to psychiatric care and pharmacological treatment. For more than 30, he was the recipient of many generations of antidepressants and anxiolytics.

[53] The theory of the inclined plane in psychology means moving a mass [in this case a person] in a certain direction with the least resistance.

[54] Ibid., p. 7. In “How We Made Numeraries in Mexico,” by Castalio which appeared on Opuslibros on July 10, 2009, the author, a numerary at an Opus Center in Mexico for 20 years, expresses his thoughts on the role of local directors who are always laymen in the Work. According to Castalio (a pseudonym) “We believe as directors in Opus that we entertain a special status in the world of mortals. We are told we have a grace of state; that it is a divine grace which entails occupying position in government which entails positions of hierarchy of an ecclesiastical institution, thus we, as directors, are able to interpret the will of God in the selection of members.” Regional Commissioners meet with directors every two to three weeks to discuss the records of potential numeraries. Directors are taught to instrumentalize friendship and how to extract information in a veiled manner including sexual intimate details which are openly discussed at the meetings. Castalio stated that in “circles” and “confidences” young people confide in their directors, then we turn around and report on them with no sense of guilt or remorse. “In practice, a director’s ‘please,’ becomes a command of obedience – to deny a director’s request is to deny Christ and invite eternal disaster.” See Opuslibros – How we made numeraries in Mexico.- Castalio In the United States, orders coming from their superiors in Rome are usually delivered by special couriers to directors who receive them on their knees.

[55] Ibid., p. 7.

[56] Ibid., p.7.

[57] Ibid., p. 7.

[58] Ibid., p. 7-8.

[59] Ibid., p. 9.

[60] Ibid., p.9.

[61] Ibid., p. 9.

[62] Ibid., p. 9.

[63] Ibid., p.9.

[64] Ibid., p.3.

[65] Ibid., p.8.

[66] Ibid., p. 15.

[67] Ibid., p. 15.

[68] The Complaint specifically mentions the Gaztelueta Case which this writer covered for AKA Catholic and Renew America for a period of several years, the only U.S. reporter to do so, as Opus Controls most of the Catholic press in this country. The case involved Opus numerary Jose Maria Martinez Sanz who was eventually convicted of sexually abusing a young male student under his spiritual care at the Gaztelueta School, established by Escriva, in Spain. For details see Opus Dei Watch – March Part 1 – (akacatholic.com); Opus Dei Watch – March Part 2 – (akacatholic.com); Opus Dei Sex Abuse Case: An exclusive interview – (akacatholic.com); Opus Dei Trial Ends with a Guilty Verdict – (akacatholic.com). For another Opus sex abuse case see Another Opus Dei Numerary Sex Abuse Case – (akacatholic.com). If the reader has any doubts that Opus’ purview of Opus sex abuse victims is “Let them eat cake,” see the above articles.

[69] Ibid., p. 10.

[70] Ibid., p.10.

[71] Ibid., p. 15.

[72] Ibid., p. 15.

[73] Ibid., p. 15.

[74] Ibid., p. 15.

[75] Ibid., p. 13.

[76] Ibid., p. 13.

[77] Ibid., p. 13.

[78] Ibid., p. 13.

[79] Ibid., p. 19.

[80][80] Ibid., p. 13.

© Randy Engel


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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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