Randy Engel
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part V
More abusive institutional practices by Opus Dei
By Randy Engel
May 21, 2024


Although the June 26, 2023 International Ecclesiastical Institutional Complaint Against Opus Dei for Regulatory Fraud Against the Holy See and the Members Themselves, featured in Part IV of this series, laid out many of the dangerous institutional regulatory practices of Opus Dei, there were other key issues that were not addressed.

For example, near the end of the 20-page report, the authors state: “We are aware that we have not touched on the issue of priests incardinated into the Prelature with the breath and detail that it deserves, which together with the [abuses] against auxiliary numeraries in our opinion, constitute the most serious institutional abuses of Opus Dei.” [1]

This segment highlights not only Opus’ revolutionary desacralization of the Catholic priesthood, but also addresses other institutional practices that war against the Catholic faith and faithful. Special credit for this section goes to Juan Morales,[2] the Madrid author of ’ “Opus Dei: Its True Face,” a ground-breaking 1991 exposé that was first translated into English by “Santiago,, and to Santiago, himself, for his excellent online investigation of the revolutionary “spirit” of the Work, “Opus Dei – Trojan Horse of Liberalization in the Church.”[3]

Opus Dei as a Pseudo-Catholic Sect

One of the first indications of Opus’ dominant secularity and pluralism[4] that this writer encountered more than four decades ago is its formal seal – a barren Gnostic cross[5] embracing the world sometimes with a rose at the bottom similar to the rose-croix of Rosicrucianism – no INRI inscription declaring Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, and no corpus as on the traditional Catholic crucifix.

According to Robert Hutchison, author of Their Kingdom Come – Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei, when Opus novices take their Oath of Fidelity, five years into their membership, in the presence of the regional vicar and two witnesses, one of them the oblate’s director and immediate superior, “the oath is administered before a plain wooden Cross without its crucified in the darkened chapel of an Opus Dei center.”[6] According to Escriva’s The Way, Maxim 178, members are invited to imagine putting themselves on the Cross in place of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – an idea that reeks of blasphemy.

In Opus’s 1950s Constitutions, numeraries are instructed that where three or more members live in an Opus Dei residence, there is to be erected a black cross, again, without the image of the Crucified. Members of Opus are encouraged to carry with them a plain black cross without the corpus in their pockets.

Another equally strange and disconcerting features of The Work is the fact that Opus residences, study and conference centers, schools, and youth facilities typically are not openly identified as Catholic institutions. They employ secular names such as Arnold Hall, Shellbourne, Featherock, Longlea, Roseaire, the Willows Academy, etc. Ditto, Opus foundations such as the Castlewood Foundation, Mulholland Foundation, and the all-important Witherspoon Institute, Heights Foundation, and the Woodlawn Foundation which fund hundreds of Opus entities in the United States. Murry Hill Place is the name of Opus’ national headquarters in Manhattan. Another reflection that the charism or spirit of Opus is predominantly secular and not Catholic.

A popular criticism of Opus Dei “apostolates,”[7] and the numeraries, associates, supernumeraries and cooperators who run them, is that these charitable and business associations and Opus memberships are kept secret.[8] The exception to the rule are the names of the Prelate and his top officials, Opus priests, and designated members who display the “public face,” of the Work. Secrecy, at all levels of praxis and governance, is institutionalized in Opus and reinforced by the founder’s edicts. For the record, as mandated by Pope Saint Pius X and Pope Leo XIII, all Catholic “apostolates” should retain an open and “confessional” character.[9]

But all of these peculiarities one initially comes to associate with The Work are minor annoyances when compared to its more cryptic and dangerous praxes we are about to examine.

Opus Dei Descacralizes the Priesthood

Most Catholics, especially cradle Catholics, have no difficulty in defining the nature of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the practices and duties of Catholic priests. Nevertheless, it might be more instructive to refer to the Catechism of the Council of Trent[10] when comparing the traditional view of the Catholic priesthood to the “new priesthood,” of Opus Dei.

    Dignity of this Sacrament – In the first place, then, the faithful should be shown how great is the dignity and excellence of this Sacrament considered in its highest degree, the priesthood. Bishops and priests being, as they are, God's interpreters and ambassadors, empowered in His name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct, and holding, as they do, His place on earth, it is evident that no nobler function than theirs can be imagined....

    The Divine Call – Let no one take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was; and they are called by God who are called by the lawful ministers of His Church. They who are in Holy Orders have certain special duties and functions to discharge in the Church. Thus they offer Sacrifice for themselves and for all the people; they explain God's law and exhort and form the faithful to observe it promptly and cheerfully; they administer the Sacraments of Christ our Lord by means of which all grace is conferred and increased; and, in a word, they are separated from the rest of the people to fill by far the greatest and noblest of all ministries (bold added).

    Right Intention – In every action we undertake it is of the highest importance to have a good motive in view, for if the motive is good, the rest proceeds harmoniously. The candidate for Holy Orders, therefore, should first of all be admonished to entertain no purpose unworthy of so exalted an office. ... Though both the natural and divine law lay down, as the Apostle remarks, that he who serves the altar should live by the altar; yet to approach the altar for the sake of gain and money is one of the very gravest of sacrileges.

    Holy Orders Is a Sacrament – That Sacred Ordination is to be numbered among the Sacraments of the Church the Council of Trent has established by the same line of reasoning as we have already used several times. Since a Sacrament is a sign of a sacred thing, and since the outward action in this consecration denotes the grace and power bestowed on him who is consecrated, it becomes clearly evident that Order must be truly and properly regarded as a Sacrament....

    The Internal Priesthood – Regarding the internal priesthood, all the faithful are said to be priests once they have been washed in the saving waters of Baptism. ...

    The External Priesthood – The external priesthood, on the contrary, does not pertain to the faithful at large, but only to certain men who have been ordained and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands and by the solemn ceremonies of holy Church, and who are thereby devoted to a particular sacred ministry.

    Functions of the Priesthood – The office of a priest, then, is to offer Sacrifice to God and to administer the Sacraments of the Church....

Thus the Church makes clear that while all Catholics are called to holiness, there is a difference between the baptismal and ministerial priesthood. The Sacrament of Holy Orders places the priest in a different ecclesial order in so far as it configures him, ontologically speaking, as another Christ.

Escriva and the New Priesthood[11]

I am anti-clerical because I love the priesthood.[12] Escriva

According to Doserra (pseudonym), a former Opus numerary, “From the beginning of his venture, Escriva held a different view of the nature of the Catholic priesthood and the priest, which is outside the tradition of the Church, that is, heterodox.”[13] As Escriva proclaimed in his famous homily at the University of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain on October 8, 1967, “I am a secular priest: a priest of Jesus Christ, who loves passionately the world.”[14] He believed that, for Opus numeraries turned priests ”the priesthood is an accident of circumstance, because - within the Work - priests and laity have the same vocation. In Opus Dei we are all equal.”[15]

Doserra continued, “And, as can be seen, the various blurs that make up this erroneous concept of the priesthood have a common unhealthy root: the Founder's obsession with having a group of priests totally subject to institutional interests.”[16] Doserra’s many contributions to Opuslibros over the years include the must-read “The Deformation of the Figure of the Priest in Opus Dei”[17] and “The Slavery Regime of Opus Dei Priests.”[18]

Unabashed apologist for the Work, Jean-Jacques Thierry confirms Doserra’s argument that Opus Dei produces priests of “another sort:”

    Each year certain numeraries receive sacred orders. Actually, according to the Association, it is not a matter of these members having “late vocations,” or a change in orientation. The divine call came to them well before they envisaged the priesthood as a possibility. ... by joining Opus Dei and choosing sanctity through work, they have committed themselves to practicing the virtues which constitute the heart of the priesthood. From the first day they were admitted they saw themselves in this sense, in remote preparation for the priesthood.[19] This despite the fact that the great majority of them are not actually ordained.[20]

    [Numeraries} who are ordained after joining the Association, that is who have been prepared for the priesthood and brought to it at the invitation of their directors[21] so they might serve others in a different way. For them, ordination is not in any way the “crowning” of their vocation. In fact, when they receive the priesthood, they retain the secular mentality suited to their environment and to the profession they used to practice, so that they become doctor-priests, lawyer-priests, worker-priests, etc.”[22]

Get it?

The Opus priest, then, is said to be no different from the Opus layman; is ordained at the direction of the director; and serves primarily as a functionary of the Prelature.

Presto – the abomination of the Opus ecclesiastical chimera – the lay/priest or ordained layman or a numerary in clerical collar – who is ordained in batches of twenty to forty or more Opus numeraries.[23]

Clearly, the Holy See has to seriously question the validity and licitness of these ordinations on an individual basis which it has never done.

As Doserra so shrewdly observes, “The call to the priesthood in the Work does not start from an interior movement of the person, which responds to a specific gift of God to that specific person, but from a decision of government.”[24] ...“It is an unprecedented abuse in the life of the Church, in that it relegates to a secondary plane those who are the principal protagonists of every divine vocation: first, God, then the individual person, who is moved interiorly by His grace.”[25] “[In Opus Dei] the priestly vocation becomes more of an external act like the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament rather than the internal transformation that marks a true Catholic priest,” says Doserra.[26]

And while it is true that Opus Dei has a reputation for dispensing sound doctrine, like the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the institution itself falls short in the promotion of the cardinal and theological virtue especially that of charity, exchanging them for the absurd “virtues” of “holy shamelessness,” “holy intransigence,” “holy pilleria,” “holy cholera,” and “unity with the Father [Escriva], etc.”[27] Likewise, in private recruitment sessions we hear members using terms like “Wets,” for persons of no benefit to The Work; “goats” for poor recruiters, and “chicos” who are monied or otherwise designated persons of interest.

Actually, this all makes sense if one rightly understands that the debate on who rules Opus Dei, laymen or clerics, is meaningless. Opus Dei is an institutional bureaucracy of the laity. Escriva’s “priests” are in essence programmed cloned laymen with collars who owe their allegiance to the founder and his successors, not to Christ. There is no room in the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross for the traditional Catholic priest, who eventually comes to understand that his vocation, indeed his very salvation, depends upon him finding the nearest exit door of the Prelature.[28]

The Abuse of Spiritual Direction

The abuse of spiritual direction in Opus Dei, accompanied by violations of the seal of confession, comes as no surprise, as both the former and the latter are matters of governance, that is, spiritual direction has become a tool of information gathering and control to achieve institutional objectives with greater effectiveness at the expense of the individual.

In the exquisite essay “Freedom of Conscience in Opus Dei,”[29] Oraculo, a former member of Opus, calls Opus’ systematic violation of the freedom of conscience “a cancer” which has plagued the institute since its founding. And indeed it is.

According to Opus Dei, spiritual direction belongs, in the first place, to the local lay directors, with whom the priests also make their “fraternal chat,” or “confidence,” then, to the priests of The Work, through sacramental confession (bold added).[30] To hold anything back from one’ spiritual director is considered making a pact with the devil.[31] Numeraries report once a week for their “fraternal chat” which is considered with their designated lay spiritual director and their designated Opus confessor; supernumeraries every two weeks; other members monthly. The “circle” considered by Opus to be in the “external forum,” completes a pattern of thought control in which members openly accuse themselves of their offenses and faults, accept correction and punishment if any, and discuss their Plan of Life, constructed under the supervision of their spiritual advisor.

But the greatest violation of conscience comes with the prescribed breaking of the sacred and natural duty of confidentiality by which Opus spiritual directors reveal to their Opus superiors intimate matters discussed in their fraternal chats with their trusting subjects. All manner of details,[32] especially those which might possibly touch upon the reputation or honor of The Work, make their way up the Opus chain of command from local directors to the Prelate in Rome where the notations are dutifully read and filed by faceless Opus clone-bureaucrats.

As if these violations of conscience were not enough, there is another facet of Opus spiritual direction that defies description – that is the praxis that explicitly forbids the faithful to manifest their own intimacy to anybody other than their spiritual director or higher directors. According to the Catechism of Opus Dei.[33]

    It will never be appropriate for the faithful of Opus Dei to confide to each other matters of their interior life or personal concerns, because those who count on a special grace to assist and help the members of the Work are the male or female Director —or the person determined by the Directors— and the designated priest.

This praxis of the Prelature includes even the prohibition of free and open communication among the members about any kind of “personal” issues or concerns, not just those pertaining to the government of the Work but also matters related to the intimacy of one’s soul. In Opus Dei, one’s thoughts about the institution can only be discussed with the directors. Anyone expressing his/her personal opinion, publicly or in private, to a fellow member or friend outside the Work will be immediately censured and corrected for “murmuring.”

Hence members who have given their life to The Work are gradually despoiled of the autonomy of their conscience as spiritual direction is gradually transformed into a means of exerting an iron-fisted control over them.

Opus Dei Violates the Seal of Confession

The Catholic position on the inviolability of the seal of sacramental confession is universally known. The confessor cannot by word or sign or by any manner whatever in any way betray the sinner even under the threat of death. There are no exceptions. The penalty for this grave reserved sin, is automatic excommunication. Period.

But in Opus Dei the matter is much more complicated as the crime of violating the seal of confession is both institutionalized and systemic and involves virtually every Opus official from the Prelate and his vicars and secretaries down through the local chain of command to Opus residences and retreat centers where confessions are heard on a regular basis. The justification for the abuse of ecclesiastical power, once again, is that the Sacrament of Penance is held to be a function of government.

As Msgr. Escriva explains, “Confession is used to confirm the directives of the Directors, beyond the “sacramental wall.”[34] How this praxis plays itself out in practical terms is described in a set of internal manuals called the Vademecum de Sacerdotal[35]

    Priests know that, in order to collaborate effectively in the personal spiritual direction of the faithful of the Prelature, they must ordinarily confirm in everything the directives that others receive in fraternal conversation: only a complete harmony between the two councils ensures the adequate spiritual direction of the people of the Work"[36]

    If ever deems it desirable, in order to achieve greater unity criteria in the work of training and management, the local Director may speak briefly with the priest – always in the confessional on such points as it deems necessary.[37]

Thus, in Opus Dei, the priest is routinely subjugated to lay directors unless he holds a position of special importance for institutional, business or corporate or public relations purposes like the late the late Washington D.C. personality, Father C. John McCloskey. On the occasion when Opus spiritual directors or the priests themselves deem it necessary that information received from penitents in a sacramental confession be shared or released to their superiors, Opus priests may do so.

If this is not absolutely clear to the reader, the following internal directive by the Prelate to his priests published in The Experiences of Pastoral Practice should end all doubt:

    If at any time, due to lack of formation, a member of the Work does not make known to his Directors circumstances or facts of his life that are contrary to our vocation or that are an obstacle to our work; and instead when these facts are communicated in the Confession, the priest – 'making it clear that he does not command it' – must advise that soul, for his own good and that of the Work, to speak sincerely and confidently with his Directors, and if necessary, to ask that they change his Centre or his city. Exceptionally, because of the importance of the facts, because there is a clear incompatibility with the duties towards the Work, because of their impact on the harm of third parties, etc., this indication could go from being a simple advice of spiritual direction, to constituting a strict and serious obligation, according to the general norms of Moral Theology; an obligation that the priest must impose with the necessary fortitude, and in the way that persons and circumstances demand, even "imperatively advising him to ask for his departure from The Work.[38]

To illustrate how this grave abuse is executed and the seal of confession compromised one need go any further than the testimony of former Opus priest Father Vladimir Felzmann who related the following story to Michael Walsh, author of The Secret World of Opus Dei:

    One day, he [Felzmann] was visited by senior Opus Dei officials. It had come to their attention, they told him, that someone had confessed to him the sin... of homosexuality, yet Felzmann had not informed Rome. That, pointed out Felzmann, would have breached the seal of the confessional. The officials grudgingly conceded the point, but told him he should have made the person involved, on the pain of not receiving absolution from his real or supposed sin, come back to him or to someone else outside the confessional in the form of a confidence, so that the information may be used. Felzmann protested to the point of tears that this could still technically be construed as breaking the seal. The senior members would not accept this, and rebuked him sharply for his want of loyalty to the organization.[39]

When the Opus officers faulted Father Felzmann for not having informed Rome that a penitent, presumably a male numerary or supernumerary, had confessed to the sin of homosexuality, what exactly did they mean? Since when are priests supposed to relate anything they hear in a sacramental confession to an outside source?

Both the question and the answer brings us to another level of the abuse of power endemic in the Prelature that involves the violation of the seal of confession as well as the grave violation of conscience and right to privacy of Opus penitents.

Opus Dei Acts as a Super Intelligence Agency

Based on the old adage “Knowledge is power,”[40] Opus Dei has emerged as one of the most important Catholic information gathering agencies in the world, second perhaps only to the Vatican itself.

All kinds of information are gathered by Opus Dei like water in a reservoir, which in turn produces knowledge that the sect can use to advance its own institutional and corporate interests.

It was during the long reign of Pope John Paul II, especially during the twenty-two years (1984-2006) that Opus numerary Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, managed the Vatican Press Office, that the Prelature became a first-class power at the Vatican. Navarro-Valls was able to closely monitored the daily life of John Paul II and accompanies the pope on all his trips and vacations, and quickly became second-in-command, after the Polish priest Stanislaw Jan Dzieisz, the pope’s personal secretary.

This writer believes that Navarro-Vall, who resided in an apartment at Opus Dei’s Rome headquarters, a vast complex of concrete and brick known as the Villa Tevere[41] until his death in 2017,[42] became a treasure trough of valuable intelligence for the Prelature during these years including all matter of secret information affecting the universal Church and its hierarchy.

Ex-Opus numeraries, writing for Opuslibros, report that the Prelature office in Rome maintains comprehensive secret dossiers on every bishop in the world, even [especially] when the bishop or cardinal in question is anti-Opus.

Of course, the Rome headquarters routinely maintains secret monthly written reports on all its members, past, present and future, that includes detailed personal and intimate data obtained from both the external and internal [confessional] forum (whether or not the report is true or false is irrelevant).

For example, under the office section labeled the “Apostolate of Friendship,” information derived from local directors and sent to the Regional Commission and then Rome, includes the aptitude of a potential member to occupy a key position in the Prelature or to develop certain “apostolates.” The section referred to as “Saints,” contains data on potential candidates that a member is attempting to recruit, including the individual’s familial and financial status, special talents and skills, level of piety and purity, and docility to obedience, etc.

The violation of privacy of married supernumerary members is particularly disgusting in that details of matters as intimate as their conjugal relation and spacing of children are grist for the Opus spiritual direction mill.

This gross invasion of personal privacy, along with violations involving sacramental confession as reported in the 2023 Complaint, is justified by Opus leaders, including the founder and his successors, on the grounds that Opus directors and other informants are helping in the formation and sanctification of Opus candidates and members and like “a good doctor,” benefiting them.

Corporate Fraud Involving the State and Civil Society[43]

As Opus classifies itself as a religious organization, officially Catholic, and as such it commonly pays no taxes to government [with the exception of regulated business income], the financial oversight and filing of its annual report falls exclusively to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Clergy, which has competence for all matters that pertain to the Holy See with regard to Personal Prelatures. To date, no official [public] comprehensive account of The Work’s finances by the Vatican or any other source exists, except in the vault of Opus Dei’s Minister of Finance at the Villa Vecchia.

In the 2023 Complaint Against Opus Dei, the drafters of the document note that under the Opus praxis of “the end justifies the means,” [“the end being, the good of the Work,] even when the “means” involve a moral evil.

Among the charges of financial corruption made against the Prelature, is the praxis, crystalized over the years, of systematically using “black money,” that is, money on which tax is not paid to the government, thus violating:

  • Limits on the cross-border transportation of money, avoiding bank transfers that leave traces.

  • Tax obligations for not registering in some cases up to 100% of the contributions received

  • Tax or social security obligations in the case of employees, and continuously lying of falsifying working conditions.[44]

    Other financial violations include the use of funds, collected and designated for social work among poor populations, for pet projects including the embellishment of Opus residences and centers;[45]

    Where and when money is involved, the Complaint states, Opus exhibits “no moral considerations:”[46]

      In economic matters, Opus Dei acts through opaque commercial companies, interposed, secretly controlled by the prelature. The prelature decides who works in each one, who the directors will be, which directors of the delegation or region will monitor them, attend their meetings, etc. By means of a blank signature on the resignation forms of its directors, the management and control of the directors is ensured. Through interposed companies, tax and social security regulations are fraudulently violated. These companies also enable the prelature to evade responsibilities for activities organized in Opus Dei centers [including schools, boys’ clubs, youth associations, apostolates, etc.][47]

      Through these structures, not only a certain legal impunity develops, but also an excessive desire for money, patrimonies, inheritances, legacies, and material wealth. In fact, around the year 2010, an Opus government note to directors advised the latter to “treat” [entertain] notaries, lawyers, etc., who had contact with older people with money and questionable offspring, as they would be in a position to suggest Opus Dei or one of its societies or apostolates as a beneficiary of their wills....[48]

    The particular Complaint accusation that, “the patrimonial assets of the lay numeraries and associates are being emptied little by little,”[49] may be of special interests to grass-roots Knights concerned about the possible exploitation of the Knights of Columbus insurance assets by an organization notorious, especially in Europe, for its highly secretive, irregular, and sometimes criminal financial scandals.[50]

    Opus Dei Evades Responsibility for Its Apostolates

    As already disclosed throughout this series, in Opusian finances, “the fiduciary holder in not independent but is dominated by the real holder, in this case, Opus Dei. This feature holds true for individual acts, contracts for leases of premises, Opusian residences, commercial companies, educational centers, or commercial banking companies or the titles of property of all kinds of goods. Thus members “holdings,” are in fact, mere holders apparent on behalf of the real owners who holds effective power internally to [offset] any temptation for a member to take adverse action and sign away property or goods that Opus owns. That why, in lists of members holding shares of assets, one sees the same names over and over again. Thus “The fiduciary is a simple instrument of the real holders.”[51]

    Opus Dei uses “front organizations or “shell companies” to avoid responsibility and shield it from liability. Numeraries, who are assigned various roles in Opus corporate activities “are not given any information at any policy level without being implicated as being responsible for it., which makes it difficult to later denounce Opus’ actions – “Why didn’t you object at the time.”[52]

    For all these reasons and more, Opus Dei is frequently referred to by its ex-members as “a nursery for vulnerable adults.”

    As we continue in this series on Opus Dei’s takeover of the Knights of Columbus, it is hoped that this information on The Work contributes to a better understanding of how that takeover was made possible and what its meaning is for the future of the Knights of Columbus.

    (To be continued)


    [1] Complaint, pp. 15-16.

    [2] See Juan Morales’ “Opus Dei: Its True Face,” as translated by “Santiago” (pseudonym) at MYSTERIUM INIQUITATIS (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com). Quotes from the original Morales article that appeared in Spanish in Madrid in December 1991 were subsequently found in a number of traditionalist publications including the Italian Sodalitium from (October-November 1996) and Le Sel De la Terre (No.11) and Opus Dei: a strange pastoral phenomenon – District of the USA (sspx.org) However, it was not until February 7, 2024, that a complete translation of the Morales exposé was made available in English by Santiago on his website, MYSTERIUM INIQUITATIS.

    [3] Santiago, OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (Part I) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com); OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART II) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com); OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART III) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com); OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART IV) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com); OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART V) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com); ;OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART VI) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com).

    [4] Thierry quoting Escriva: “There will never be a school of thought or opinion proper to Opus Dei. Opus Dei believes in “political pluralism.” Thierry identifies Opus members as “full-fledged citizens of the secular city, a basic tenet of Opus Dei.”

    [5] For an explanation of the love of the barren cross as an instrument of torture, not as a remembrance of Jesus crucified, see Randy Engel, Marrano – A Novel of Faith, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem at the Vatican, available from NEP, Export, PA, (2015). See also Santiago, Part I at OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (Part I) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com).

    [6] Robert Hutchison, Their Kingdom Come, Doubleday, NY, 1997, p.183.

    [7] By their own admission, apostolic works organized by the Opus Dei, that are planned and governed from a lay mentality, are not confessional, that is, not specifically Catholic. According to Opus supernumerary Russell Shaw The Work’s “apostolates are not ‘officially Catholic,’ since members of Opus Dei conduct them on their own and in collaboration with others who are not only NOT members of Opus Dei but, in many cases, not even Catholics.”

    [8] See Articles 189 – 195 of Opus Dei’s 1950 Constitutions at the ODAN site at ODAN – ODAN Opus Dei Awareness Network.

    [9] See Notre Charge Apostolique – Papal Encyclicals; and Fidentem piumque animum (September 20, 1896) | LEO XIII (vatican.va) and https://www.papalencyclicals.net/leo13/l13ro1.htm.

    [10] Catechism_of_the_Council of_Trent.pdf (catholicsociety.com), pp. 194-207.

    [11] This writer’s eye-opening introduction to the “new priesthood” of Opus clergy was an interview with supernumerary Marc Brammer in the South Bend Tribune in 2006 in which Brammer commented on the large number of Opus priests being ordained and said, “These are the guys who will recast and shape the role of the priest.”

    [12] Msgr. Escriva quoted by Santiago. Source: Salvador Bernal, Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei; Rialp, Madrid, 1980, 6th edition, p. 87

    [13] Doserra at Opuslibros – The Deformation of the Figure of the Priest in Opus Dei (I).- Doserra.

    [14] Jean Jacques Thierry, Opus Dei – A Close-up, Cortland Press, NY, 1973, p. 95.Translated from the French by Gilda Roberts in 1975, pp. 155-156. With regard to Escriva’s obsession with loving the world, the following commentary by Argentinian priest Father Julio Meinvielle found in Santiago’s Part IV “Opus Dei: ‘Reconciling’ the City and God and the City of Man,” may prove helpful to the reader:ul>

    “Be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. ”Romans 12.2. According to Father Meinvielle , ... “This rejection of the world, does not allude to an ontological but to a mystical contempt.” That is, the world itself as God’s creation (the ontological aspect, which is good) is not be despised. The “mystical contempt for the world refers to the Earthly City with its unholy trinity of allurement traditionally referred to as ‘the world, the devil, and the flesh’.”

[15] See OPUS DEI – TROJAN HORSE OF LIBERALISM IN THE CHURCH (PART II) (mysteriuminiquitatis-2thessalonians2.blogspot.com). Original quote of Escriva is found in Salvador Bernal’s Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei; Rialp, Madrid 1980, 6ª ed., p152.

[16] Dossera.

[17] Doserra at Opuslibros – The Deformation of the Figure of the Priest in Opus Dei (I).- Doserra.

[18] Doserra Opuslibros – Slavery Regime of Opus Dei Priests (II).- Doserra.

[19] This assertion runs counter to Opus Dei’s policies that reject for membership any candidate that demonstrates an inclination toward the priesthood or religious life. Anyone coming to Opus and asking to be admitted as an Opus Dei seminarian is turned away. Also rejected are any former members of religious orders or Third Order societies including monks, nuns, novices, and postulants. Opus only ordains its own numeraries who have served The Work for approximately ten years and are known to be thoroughly obedient and imbued with the “lay mentality.”

[29] Jean Jacques Thierry, p. 57.

[21] The Directors of Opus “seminarians” also assigns them to their seminary in Rome or Spain; tells them what they should study (canon law, theology, etc.); and makes the final decision as to whether or not they will be ordained. It should be noted that these candidates to the priesthood are never out of the control of the Prelature. These men live in a “limbo” from two to five years, that is, from the time they are told by Opus officials they have been selected by Opus to train for the priesthood until they are either ordained or returned to their previous residence as numeraries.

[22] Thierry, pp. 59-60. Escriva stated thar after ordination, priests may continue to exercise their former occupation as their “professional work,” continues to be part of the divine vocation.( Letter Multum usum 29.IX, 1957, 9).

[23] Bishop Javier Echevarria ordained 42 new priests for the Prelature of Opus Dei in the Basilica of St. Eugene in Rome on May 21, 2005. Priests came from Nigeria, U.S., Philippines, and various European and Latin American countries. In May 2021, Opus member Archbishop Georg Gänswein, former prefect of the Papal Household and private secretary of Benedict XVI, ordained 27 priests of the Opus Dei prelature in the Basilica of Saint Eugene in Rome. The Prelate of Opus Dei, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz, participated in the ceremony from the presbytery, and laid hands on the new priests after the consecrating bishop. See video at Archbishop Gänswein Ordains 27 Priests from 14 Countries – Opus Dei. Earlier records show that Opus ordained 22 numeraries in 1964; 29 in 1971; and 51 in 1973 including members from Spain, France, USA, and Italy.

[24] Doserra “The Deformation...”

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] It is only gradually that Opus members are introduced to the double-coded language of the sect. According to one ex-member, by this time their conscience is “frozen.”

[28] The only priests who hold office in Opus Dei are the Prelate and his vicars. In the General Council there are usually only four priests; all the others – in number without comparison greater – are lay people. In the Regional Commissions, the only Priest Directors are the Counsellor and the Priest Secretary; all the others are also lay people. Local governments are always made up of lay people. It can be assured, therefore, that the laity have a very large majority in the positions of government of the Work" (Letter Ad serviendum, 8.VIII.1956, n. 7). See also, Oraculo, “Freedom of Conscience in Opus Dei,” Opuslibros at Freedom.pdf (opuslibros.org)

[29] Oraculo, “Freedom of Conscience in Opus Dei,” Opuslibros, Freedom.pdf (opuslibros.org).

[30] See Opuslibros – Vademecum of Priests. This is one of many Opus internal documents posted on Opuslibros to validate the claims made against The Work.

[31] “Herald,” “According to the Father’s Mind,” Opuslibros, March 3, 2013.

[32] One of the irregular and dangerous aspects of Opus spiritual direction is that members are required to perform the “manifestation of conscience,” which has been outlawed by the Church for more than a hundred years. Religious superiors, much more secularized lay directors, are rigorously forbidden to directly or indirectly induce their subjects by precept, advice, fear, threats, or praise, to render to them a manifestation of conscience of this kind. (The “Quemadmodum” Decree of December 17, 1890).

[33] Catechism of Opus Dei, p. 221.

[34] Opuslibros – Slavery Regime of Opus Dei Priests (II).- Doserra.

[35] As described by Robert Hutchison in Their Kingdom Come, the Vademecum is a seven volume set of books, written in Spanish, that covers all matter of internal details on Opus life, practices and regulations. He may be referring to the secret Opus documents referred to in the 2023 Complaint which consists of 46 volumes.

[36] Ibid. p. 41.

[37] Ibid., p.53.

[38] Reference to The Experiences of Pastoral Practice, pages 263-264,is found in Doserra, “Slavery Regime.”

[39] Michael Walsh, The Secret World of Opus Dei, Grafton Books, London, 1989, p.119. Feltzman left the organization in 1982, 23 years after joining Opus Dei, and became a priest of the Westminster Diocese, London, England.

[40] Although knowledge and information are related, they are not synonymous; the former is the awareness, understanding, or skill that is derived from experience or education, and the latter are the facts, data or details that are gathered on a subject.

[41] The name of the Villa Tevere (Villa Tiber) has been changed to the Villa Vecchia (Old Villa). It is a massive cement complex with a decorative front veneer that covers 77 different buildings and contains multiple chapels, elaborate apartment dwellings for the Prelate and his officers, and underground tunnels. The Casa del Uffici houses the Genera Council, the men’s central government, and the Villa Sacchetti, the segregated women’s division, Central Advisory, aka no vote. As Robert Hutchison describes it in Their Kingdom Come, it is a barred and “walled city state” deep in the heart of Rome

[42] Navarro-Valls continued to serve as the Vatican press secretary under Pope Benedict XVI until 2006. Afterwards, important Vatican news continued to flow into Opus headquarters from Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a priest of Opus Dei who served as a Professor of Canon Law at Opus’ Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome for at least five years. After Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi left the Vatican press office in 2016, he was replaced by Opus numerary Greg Burke. Pope Francis selected Matteo Bruni as head of the Vatican press office in 2019. Bruni is a member of the Sant’Egidio Community.

[43] See Hutchison, “Moneybags Theology,” Their Kingdom Come. Pp. 339-352.

[44] 2023 Complaint, p. 13.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid., p.14.

[48] Ibid.

[49] 2023 Complaint, p. 14.

[51] Opuslibros, “Without Fear of Opus Dei,” November 11, 2017, p.4.

[52] This important insight was made by the late Opus numerary, Dennis Dubro. A physicist by training, he was, nevertheless, sent as an accountant to an Opus Catholic men’s dormitory known as Warrane College in Sydney, Australia. Dubro found out that Opus members were financially “cooking the books,” and brought the matter to the attention of Opus officials who ignored him. When he publicly complained of the financial corruption, Dubro ended up being blamed for the financial discrepancies, was removed from office, and later dismissed from The Work without due process. Dubro sued Opus Dei in a New York court, but the case was dismissed due to a technicality. See ODAN – ODAN Opus Dei Awareness Network.

© 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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