The Opus Dei Awareness
Network, Inc. (ODAN) was founded in 1991 to meet the growing demand for
accurate information about Opus Dei and to provide education, outreach and
support to people who have been adversely affected by Opus Dei.
ODAN challenges many of Opus Dei's Questionable Practices because of the way they affect an individual's personal freedom, choices and family life.
Since 1991, ODAN has been in contact with countless individuals, families, the secular and religious press, clergy, religious, cult awareness organizations, campus ministers, home-schooling parents and more.
ODAN is a worldwide community of people who have had painful experiences as a result of their association with Opus Dei.
ODAN is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.
Opus Dei Awareness
Executive Director: Dianne DiNicola
What is Opus Dei?
Opus Dei is an organization
Opus Dei is made up of lay members and priests; Opus Dei laity continue to work in the secular world, but remain under the strict spiritual direction of Opus Dei. All Opus Dei members follow "the plan of life," made up of spiritual practices such as daily Mass, rosary, spiritual reading, and mental prayer, as well as Opus Dei prayers and customs.
There are different classes of membership in Opus Dei:
Numerary members pledge to remain celibate and generally live in Opus Dei houses. They commit their entire salaries to Opus Dei, submit incoming and outgoing mail to their directors, and practice various forms of corporal mortification, including use of the cilice, a spiked chain worn around the thigh, and use of the discipline, a knotted rope for whipping.
Supernumerary members may be married, and live with their families. They follow the same "plan of life" as the numeraries, but generally do not know about many of the details of numerary life. They contribute large portions of their income to Opus Dei, often at the expense of their local parishes.
Numerary priests join Opus Dei as lay members, but
are then hand-picked by Opus Dei superiors to become priests of Opus Dei.
Numerary priests hold the top government positions in Opus Dei. Many hold
important positions in the
Associate Opus Dei members also pledge celibacy, but they generally do not live in Opus Dei houses. They include people who have not acquired university degrees, or who must remain with their families for personal reasons.
Numerary assistants are women who pledge celibacy, and are responsible for the care and cleaning of all Opus Dei residences.
Cooperators of Opus Dei provide financial
support, but are not considered members of Opus Dei. Unlike Opus Dei members,
cooperators do not have to be Catholic.
Despite its seemingly noble
intentions, Opus Dei has stirred up controversy in countries all over the
world. Families of Opus Dei members are almost never involved in the vocation
process, (in fact Opus Dei itself often discourages its new members from even
telling their families about their decision!) Also questionable are Opus Dei's
recruiting tactics, which are comparable to the tactics used by cultic groups.
Perhaps most controversial is the effort to canonize Opus Dei's founder, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who died in 1975 and was beatified amidst substantial controversy in 1992, and was canonized on October 6, 2002 in Rome, Italy. See ODAN's opposition to the canonization.
Also controversial in the early 1980's was the granting of Opus Dei to be a "personal prelature" within the Church. A personal prelature is an entity within the Catholic Church that is headed by a "prelate" (currently Javier Echevarria) and defined by persons rather than by geographical area (such as dioceses). Therefore, local bishops have little control over Opus Dei's membership, activities or practices.
Opus Dei has stated that there are approximately 80,000 Opus Dei members worldwide. Opus Dei is located in many countries, including England, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, countries in Central and South America, and many others, including the United States. Opus Dei generally locates in or near major cities, often near prestigious universities, where they hope to attract recruits.
Since its inception in 1991, ODAN has been in contact with people from all over the world who have experienced the questionable practices of Opus Dei. Many are former members; others who have contacted ODAN include parents, siblings and friends of current or former Opus Dei members; priests and religious, including bishops and campus ministers; news reporters from both the Catholic and secular press, and many more. From the contacts ODAN has made, it has become apparent that wherever Opus Dei is, there is controversy.
Posted to website
The following practices of Opus Dei are not common knowledge and need to be examined and questioned. The serious issues ODAN raises are based on a collection of first-hand personal experiences.
Corporal mortification (self-inflicted pain and deprivation) is perhaps the most shocking practice. See the corporal mortification web page for more details.
“University residences, universities, publishing houses. . . are these ends? No, and what is the end? . . . to promote in the world the greatest possible number of souls dedicated to God in Opus Dei…”(Founder of Opus Dei, Cronica, v, 1963)
Within Opus Dei, a heavy emphasis is placed on getting individuals to commit their lives to Opus Dei. Members' pursuit of potential members is aggressive and similar to the tactics used by totalistic groups. Because of this, ODAN believes the group violates the personal freedom of individuals.
Undue Pressure to Join
Selected individuals are relentlessly pursued to consider a vocation or calling to Opus Dei.
Lack of Informed Consent and Control of Environment
When recruits decide to join Opus Dei, they vaguely commit themselves to live "the spirit of Opus Dei" without knowing the details of that commitment. The initial commitment, called "whistling," involves the writing of a letter to the prelate of Opus Dei asking to become an Opus Dei member. From that moment, new members are greeted with exuberance and welcomed into the fold. Eventually, the details of new memberships are revealed, and the new members are expected to comply, even if they object or have reservations. A great psychological burden is placed on the new members: they must be faithful to the commitment they have made by obeying all that their directors tell them is "the spirit of Opus Dei;" otherwise, they are turning their back on God. If they decide to leave Opus Dei, they have often already heard that they will surely live a life without God's grace, and may even be damned.
Opus Dei tightly controls the lives of its members, especially the numerary members who pledge celibacy and typically live in Opus Dei residences. The following are some examples of the controls placed on Opus Dei numeraries, which are part of the "spirit of Opus Dei:"
Alienation From Families
Communication to family about involvement with Opus Dei is limited and even discouraged.
Corporal mortification is regularly practiced in Opus Dei. It is perhaps one of the most startling aspects of Opus Dei life for people outside the group. Many of the practices of corporal mortification were at one time more regularly practiced within the Church; however, due to modern psychology and thinking, the practices which inflict pain are sometimes considered to be counterproductive to one's spiritual development, as they can easily lead to pride and an unhealthy attitude toward one's body.
Some acts of corporal mortification may be helpful in checking the desires of the flesh, such as fasting. However, in Opus Dei, especially for the numerary (celibate) members, all of the practices mentioned below are mandatory if one wishes to live the "Spirit of Opus Dei" fully. The "Spirit of Opus Dei" is the standard of living, as outlined by the Opus Dei directors, for which all truly dedicated Opus Dei members strive. Under the umbrella of the "Spirit of Opus Dei" hide many of the abuses in Opus Dei. The subtle control to conform to the norm is typical in groups which practice mind control; members are "guilted" into conforming, feeling that they must in order to follow "God's will" as it is outlined by the controlling group.
Listed below are the ways Opus Dei numeraries practice corporal mortification:
Some forms of corporal mortification differ according to your gender, as the following table shows:
Sleep on boards laid on top of the mattress.
Sleep without a pillow once a week.
May not smoke or enter a bar.
The Founder believed that women had passions that required more discipline to tame.
Sleep on the floor once a week.
Sleep without a pillow once a week.
Allowed to smoke and go to bars with recruits, for the purpose of drawing them closer to Opus Dei.
A former numerary wrote to comment on Opus Dei's corporal mortifications:
"The cilice and disciplines are so foreign to the experience of most people, that they just conclude that Opus Dei is very odd for mandating them. That is true as far as it goes, but there is a more important point to be made. Because of the dangers of masochism, the traditional Catholic teaching on this sort of mortification is that it be done under obedience to a spiritual director. Such supervision in fact exists in Opus Dei, although often authority is entrusted to people who lack requisite maturity and prudence. The real point is that even if the cilice and the discipline are acceptable forms of penance, their use shows that Opus Dei members are NOT ordinary people, are not free agents."
Relevant Quotes from the writings of Opus Dei Founder, Josemaria Escriva
"Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. . . Glorified be pain!" (The Way, 208)
"No ideal becomes a reality without sacrifice. Deny yourself. It is so beautiful to be a victim!" (The Way, 175)
"Obey with your lips, your heart and your mind. It is not a man who is being obeyed, but God." (Furrow, maxim 374)
"And be watchful, for a spark is much easier to extinguish than a fire. Take flight, for in this it is low cowardice to be "brave"; a roving eye does not mean a lively spirit, but turns out to be a snare of satan. Yet human diligence, with mortification, the cilice, disciplines and fasting are all worthless without you, my God." (Furrow, 834)
"They [Opus Dei numeraries] shall maintain the pious custom, for the purpose of chastising the body and reducing it to servitude, of wearing a small cilice for at least two hours daily; once a week they shall take the disciplines as well as sleeping on the floor, providing that health is not affected." (Opus Dei Constituciones, article 147)
"To defend his
purity, St. Francis of
"What has been lost through the flesh, the flesh should pay back: be generous in your penance." (The Forge, 207)
"If you realize that your body is your enemy, and an enemy of God's glory since it is an enemy of your sanctification, why do you treat it so softly?" (The Way, 227)
"Your worst enemy is yourself." (The Way, 225)
"You have come to the apostolate to submit, to annihilate yourself, not to impose your own personal viewpoints." (The Way, 936)
The Rising Spectre of Opus Dei
Opus Dei (‘Work of God’) is short for "The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei".
Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, was canonised on October 6. The ceremony passed quietly enough but the process which led to it had been pushed through at break neck speed.
celebrated the occasion by republishing past revelations concerning St.
Escriva’s fascism, secrecy, elitism and accumulation of vast wealth, beneath
headlines tactfully referring to him as "controversial". But there
was a deafening silence concerning the menace posed by Escriva’s huge, shadowy
organisation which originated in obscurity in
Storm of controversy
The present writer well remembers the storm of controversy which surrounded the beatification of Escriva in May 1992. The Jesuits, world over, cried foul as the ghost of Escriva arose from nowhere to overtake the Jesuit causes for sainthood of Newman and Pope Pius XII (The holocaust Pope). Shock –horror media reports and TV documentaries exposed the major part played by filthy lucre in the process of Roman saint making.
However, when the
day for Escriva’s canonisation came, 250,000 pilgrims attended an orderly,
ticket-only ceremony at St Peter’s,
Dr Ian Paisley intends publishing some old articles by the present writer under the title, Contemporary Rome Viewed Through History. Chapter 4 deals with the origins of Opus Dei. Little reliable information about Opus has appeared since 1992, despite increasingly aggressive media enquiries.
Cult of Founder
The present leader of Opus is Madrid-born Bishop Xavier Echevarria, 70. He is only the third leader in Opus 74-year history. Echevarria was Escriva’s former private secretary from 1953 until 1975. A leader for life, he replaced his predecessor bishop Alvaro Portillo on Portillo’s death in 1994. This slow succession serves to preserves the sinister personality cult of the founder and safeguards the deadly ethos of the organisation for the future.
Pope John Paul II, who is anti-Jesuit, "granted it (Opus) the status of ‘personal prelature’ in 1982, meaning that its members’ activities fall under Opus Dei jurisdiction rather than directly under their local bishop". It is amazing that Opus should have been granted such a lofty status even by a pro-Opus Pope. It is the key to the organisation’s power. Opus does as it wishes, and an ambitious Bishop who crosses Opus does so at his own peril.
Reliable estimates of the membership have grown from between 75,000 and 80,000 in 1992 to between 80,000 and 85,000 today. It is well over three times the size of the Society of Jesus. Escriva once said, "I would prefer a million times that a daughter of mine die without the Last Sacraments than that they be administered to her by a Jesuit," yet he wept when the Jesuits had him to dinner.
Spanish roots led naturally to its spread in
The opening of a
new 17-storey skyscraper headquarters in
The Opus business
empire was built up by recruiting company directors while they were still at
The last 10 years have not been scandal free. Louis Freeh, Director of the FBI from 1993 to 2001 was exposed as an Opus member after the department was heavily pruned and allegations had surfaced that pyrotechnic devices were used to speed the end of the Waco Adventist siege.
The disgraced FBA
agent, Robert Hansen, who was jailed for life in 2001 for spying for the
Russians over a 15-year period in return for payment of almost a million
pounds, was exposed as a devout Opus Dei member. It surfaced that
"Hansen’s brother-in-law was an Opus Dei priest in
Hansen’s motive for his treachery was a desire to afford the Opus Dei lifestyle, and send his children to Opus schools. He justified his actions by the maxim of the old Jesuit moral theology of the greater or lesser good. Other psychological explanations are probably just Opus disinformation. Roman Catholics have held many of the top posts in the CIA for some decades and it seems reasonable to conjecture that this is how Opus gained entrance.
‘Pope’s Secret Army’
apparently take direct action on occasions. In September 1994, the popular
Portuguese magazine VISAO carried an article entitled, The Pope’s Secret Army
which was critical of Opus. VISAO was subsequently bombarded with unending Opus
correspondence. This raised the cry that Opus only look after its own, for the
magazine was renowned for criticising
The alleged Opus
connection with the extreme right wing and pro-Nazi movements in
miracle for Escriva’s beatification was the overnight healing in 1976 of a
Carmelite nun who was suffering from swellings. The miraculous cure was
authenticated "in part" by Opus doctors. The second miracle, which
was necessary for Canonisation, was the healing of Dr. Manuel Nevado Rey’s skin
condition. Here Opus has denied any complicity, but according to Jesuit Fr
Reese’s scholarly book, Inside the Vatican, it is understood that there
are "members (of Opus) in every (
The Canonisation of Escriva transgressed canon law. Kenneth Woodward, a journalist and an insider, has proved that the ‘Devil’s advocate’ system was bypassed and witnesses hostile to Opus were not called.
Opus claims that eleven critics of Escriva’s canonisation were heard, but Woodward says there was only one. The "consultors" were mainly Italian and members of Opus. This prevented Escriva’s many critical Spanish peers upsetting the procedure. But it broke the convention that "consultors" should be the fellow countrymen of the proposed saint. Opus argues that Escriva was too "international" to need this.
What is more, it
was out of order for forty per cent of the testimony to come from Escriva’s two
henchmen, both of whom have since become Opus leaders. Wealthy Opus is alleged
to have pressurised "hundreds" of Bishops, especially from the cash
hungry third world, to send favourable reports to
The De-humanising, anti-Christian spirit hidden within Opus, has recently been exposed by several courageous women who have left the movement. Escriva now faces damming charges that disqualify him from being regarded as a gentleman amongst natural men, let alone a saint and a type of God the "Father." The most complete of these accounts comes from founder member and former Opus high-flyer Maria del Carmen Tapia, who has now left the movement in disgust. Her manuscript entitled Beyond the Threshold was published in the face of massive Opus opposition, particularly to the English edition.
There are still anti-Opus websites clandestinely putting out snippets of the book in English, dating from when the book was secret and hot property.
Opus met Tapia’s accusations with total public silence ("holy discretion"). At the same time Opus secretly engaged a prominent Romanist who was too important to ignore, namely the Pope himself, to put his name to a refutation of Tapia which had been written for him by Opus top men. This is an ancient Jesuit tactic. Thus it was that while VISAO had lost its appetite for anti-Opus material and Maria del Carmen Tapia was struggling to get the English edition of Beyond the Threshold published, an enormously well publicised book by Pope John Paul II entitled Crossing the Threshold of Hope was published simultaneously in 38 countries and in 21 languages.
Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Vatican Director of the Public Relations Office of the Holy See, the highest profile member of Opus, was at a loss to explain why "neither the style of prose nor the central philosophies of this book are coherent with all other writings and words attributed to Pope John Paul II". Neither had he any credible defence against the charge that well-known chronological facts demonstrated beyond doubt "from a logistics and mechanical point of view,…(that John Paul II) would not have written the said book".
Tapia’s expose has all the marks of genuineness. It is written in a gentle tone of sadness rather than anger. It is unique in that it gives not just appalling facts but more importantly, the deadly spiritual atmosphere of Opus. Tapia is revealed as a well-qualified and scholarly woman writing in her maturity. She realised that information on Opus is "scarce and unreliable" and simply asks that Escriva be more "justly appraised". Her book deserves wide distribution as the only recent major expose of Opus itself rather than of Opus scandals.
Certainly someone who had the time could use it to refute point by point, the official, saintly picture of Escriva as found in his official biography by German Professor Peter Berglar and published by Opus publisher Scepter.
Make her talk
Irascible Escriva is found to be continually raging over trivialities, particularly amongst the junior women who cold not respond. His pride and vanity are all too clear to see. "Filiation towards the Father," far from being a relationship with God, is an exaltation of the man himself.
Escriva’s true character is particularly vividly portrayed in the events of Tapia’s final departure. Words cannot describe the harrowing scene in those pages as the Father demotes Tapia and her colleagues. "Monsignor Escriva breathed deeply…. You will no longer work for the Central Advisory… When Gladys left the sessions chamber Monsignor Escriva told the central directress .. in the presence of the priests… (what follows is not fit to print) …until she talks. MAKE HER TALK".
May the judgement of the Whore of Babylon be soon.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.