hat the Jesuit Order is for
the left wing of the Roman Catholic Church, Opus Dei is for its
right wing. (Hegelian politics at its finest, for the Roman
Catholic Church cannot lose if it has strong ties with both ends
of the political spectrum! Of course, to work it requires
Protestants to be duped into political alliances with
heretics.) Many Protestants are not familiar with Opus Dei
though, so a bit of education is necessary.
Although Americans United
for Separation of Church and State is a wicked secular humanist
organization, its website contains useful information concerning
Opus Dei. One informative article, excerpted below, is at
“…Opus Dei, Latin
for “work of God,” has, according to media reports, at least
3,000 members in the United States but its influence, critics
say, has been more substantial than its numbers would indicate.
In 2002, an Opus Dei priest, the Rev. C. John McCloskey III,
former director of the Catholic Information Center, converted
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) from evangelical Protestantism
to Catholicism. Brownback’s conversion was shepherded by U.S.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a conservative Catholic and Opus Dei
booster. Long the scourge of progressive Catholics, Opus Dei,
with an estimated 80,000 members worldwide, has enjoyed a close
relationship with the church’s conservative hierarchy, serving,
as one writer put it in the mid 1980s, as a “holy mafia” to
promote far-right views on “culture war” issues. The
organization has long had its own order of priests, and in 1982,
Pope John Paul II granted Opus Dei special status known as a
“personal prelature.” That means the group is overseen by its
own bishop, who reports directly to the pope. Opus Dei is the
only organization to enjoy such unique privileges...
Ann Schweninger, a former Opus Dei member, told Martin, “Opus
Dei plays by its own rules. If they don’t want to have something
out in the open, they won’t make it accessible.”…
Opus Dei does not
publish a directory of members but is known for its interest in
targeting the rich and powerful. Over the years, rumors have
surfaced that certain high-profile Catholics might be members.
Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito have
been fingered as possibilities. There is no proof in either
case, but Newsweek magazine reported in 2001 that
Scalia’s wife has attended functions at the Catholic Information
Center, and his son Paul, a Catholic priest, has spoken there.
Santorum is also
pegged as a possible member. In 2002, Santorum attended an Opus
Dei event in Rome, during which he attacked President John F.
Kennedy’s famous 1960 endorsement of church-state separation.
Santorum said the Kennedy vow not to enforce Catholic doctrine
through civil law has caused “much harm in America” and went on
to describe President George W. Bush, a Methodist, as the
nation’s first true Catholic president.
issues focusing on the poor and social justice, to issues of
human life, George Bush is there,” Santorum told the
National Catholic Reporter. He has every right to say, ‘I’m
where you are if you’re a believing Catholic.’”
…McCloskey foresees a smaller Catholic Church in the future, but
he predicts that it will be much more obedient and will include
“hundreds of thousands of Evangelical Protestants” who convert
other Opus Dei leaders deny any political agenda. They note that
Escriva founded the group on Oct. 2, 1928, after what he said
was a command from God. The son of a Spanish textile merchant
was on a spiritual retreat at the time and claimed that God
ordered him to establish the organization and to limit it to men
only. Two years later, Escriva said, he received a revelation
from God to open the group to women.
In 1946, Escriva
moved to Rome and began traveling throughout Europe to spread
the message of Opus Dei. Four years later, Pope Pius XII
officially recognized the group. Escriva died on June 26, 1975.
In 1992, he was beatified, the first step to sainthood. His
official canonization as a saint occurred on Oct, 2, 2002,
during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in Rome attended by
thousands of devotees. Yet there has always been another side
to Opus Dei. Escriva’s critics were less than pleased with his
fast-track to sainthood, noting that in 1958, Escriva had
written a fawning letter to Francisco Franco, the fascist
dictator of Spain, congratulating him for extending official
recognition to the Catholic Church. The May 28, 1953, missive
reads, “Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help
but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s
authoritative voice should proclaim that, ‘The Spanish nation
considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according
to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church,
inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire
Opus Dei first
appeared in the United States in 1949. Growth was initially
slow, but its presence in the country today is far-reaching.
Opus Dei runs 60 centers in 19 cities, among them Boston,
Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and
San Francisco…Frequently aligning with fundamentalist
Protestants, far-right Catholics are an often-overlooked, but
powerful, segment of the Religious Right…”