May 19, 2006

Interested yet in the cult of Opus Dei ...?

Spiritual pathology IN ACTION? Great article in the lastest New Yorker magazine ... In my opinion, once the imperialists knocked out indigenous religions, these institutions were inevitable. Something just a little 'beyond' the Jesuits.

Opus Dei headquarters
243 Lexington Avenue
New York
17 story building
costs: US$ 42 million.
NY daily news about the building

And on the bottom, links that discuss cults .. and what is HEALTHY spirituality.
Canadian news story
about the two founders
Irish news story

Their own NEW! IMPROVED! website
Opus Dei - Finding God in daily life
Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church that helps people seek holiness in their work and ordinary - 16k - 17 May 2006 - Cached - Similar pagesFAQ - What is Opus Dei? - In the Media - The Da Vinci ...About Opus Dei - Overview - Holy See - "Intolerance and ...More results from »

Before I read the book I expected that the evil teachings would be hidden behind a lot of sweet words and could only be found by reading a bit between the lines, but to my surprise it is not like that: The evil is more or less explicitly there for everyone to read. Most notably this is the Fascism that can be found everywhere.

Below is part of a fabulous website I found. For a country by country analysis of Opus Dei "operations" go to the site.
The Unofficial Opus Dei FAQ
Franz Schaefer,
This document is copyrighted by Franz Schaefer except for the definition of Fascism (which is from Chip Berlet). Permission to copy this document verbatim for any purpose is hereby granted. The latest version of this document can be found at: Please forgive me any grammatical mistakes or misspellings, as English is not my mother tongue. (But I am always happy if someone tells me where I have made mistakes.) Also note that this is ``Work in progress'' and I am still adding material and changing things where I found that I was not accurate enough. The next thing planned is a chapter about the ``late'' Escriva to see if he learned from his faults when he grew older. Credits: Dr. Thomas Wilson for language screening and numerous people for sending me their opinions about my pages. En Español:
1. Q: What is Opus Dei?
A: Opus Dei a fundamentalistic sect which operates in a Catholic environment. Officially it is part of the Catholic church and so they claim that they are not a sect. Well, it all depends on how you define the word ``sect''. It would be best for you to derive your own opinion by reading this FAQ.
2. Q: Why have I written this FAQ:
A: A friend of mine got sucked into this cult and I had to explain to her why it is a bad thing. When I was searching on the Internet for information I found very little. There is their official home page " ", which does not reveal much about their true nature. Since I also want to prevent other people from falling into Opus Dei's traps I have written this document. I once was a religious person and a Catholic myself, though I have always been an extremly critical person and did not accept all the positions of the Church. In my opinion, the Catholic Church has accumulated a lot of dust that covers the message of Jesus. Opus Dei is an organisation that adds to this dust and mistakes the dust for the message in a lot of ways. Where one could argue that the original ideas from Jesus made some sense it is already rather questionable what the Catholic Church makes out of it. Even more questionable is the dangerous ideology that the Opus Dei spread in their name. But since the Opus Dei is successfull in taking over the Catholic Church there is less and less distinction between them every day.
3. Q: What kind of people are they?
A: Mostly good people. People with good hearts who love God and want to do good things and sacrifice themselves for the work of God. Only/mostly good people are attracted by them. These people are all a bit naive because they make one big mistake: They think that the Opus Dei can not be bad, because the people there are good people and they are all very religious. Therefore, they do not see all the evil ideology which is in the teachings of Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei). Most of these people are rather intelligent, as the Opus looks for intelligent people because they want to increase their influence on society this way and they can get more money from them. But intelligence does not always go along with a critical mind. Particularly when it comes to religious topics, many people refuse to use their intellect at all.
4. Q: Are you supposed to use our intellect on religious things?
A: Of course you are. Even though the fact that most religious teachings contain some irrationality most of the teachings are usually accessiblt to the rational mind. e.g: Think of Jesus, he always explained his ideas to his followers in the way of telling parables which he hoped that they would think about and understand. In fact jesus never tought any misterious or magical things at all. No dogmatic believes that someone has to follow without understanding them.
The Catholic Church has made many bloody mistakes in its history (crusades, burning of witches, the Spanish inquisition, etc ... , etc ... see ), so why should we assume it is perfect now? If we do not use our minds on religious things we might as well follow the sect that committed collective suicide with the California cult when the comet came close to earth because they thought there would be a starship to bring them to God. (Of Course, who knows: maybe they were right and Catholic people are wrong?)
Well, if you believe in God then you have to believe that God has given you our brain to use it and a conscience to decide right from wrong. In opposition to this the Opus Dei demands us to sacrifice our intellectuality to them and to completely trust their teachings as they claim these teachings are all God's will. Criticism is not wanted and not allowed. They will tell you that this only covers the religious field and that the members are otherwise completely free to do what they want. While I do believe that we should not completely trust humans in religious fields this is belittling. For a man who takes his religious beliefs seriously, almost any decision in life will be covered by his beliefs. So do not sacrifice your rational mind to any human organisation regardless of how holy they seem.

5. Q: What are the positive things in Opus Dei?
5.1 Q: What is the ``childhood in front of God'' about?
A: The idea of ``childhood in front of God'' has been nicely covered in the main book of the founder of Opus Dei (Josemaria Escriva: ``The Way''). Unfortunately, like every thing that is meant for God the Opus tries to utilise it for itself. So out of the ``childhood in front of God'' the ``childhood in front of the Opus'' is developed - so that their members do not act on their own responsibility, but leave every important question to the Opus, like children do with their parents.
5.2 Q: What about ``becoming a saint in every day life''?
A: I think every one here on earth should make this world a better place, so there can never be enough "saints". Making the world a better place can be done by charity and love. Unfortunately the Opus Dei view is that becoming a Saint is mostly a question of prayer; the topic of charity and love is of secondary importance to the love of God. (If Escriva, the founder of the Opus, had been a person with a little understanding of the Bible he would have known that there is no difference between these two types of love at all:
And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Matthew 25.45
5.3 Q: What about the development of a deeper spirituality
A: This is also one of their good points. Keeping up a high level of spirituality in our modern world is not an easy task and they do have some good concepts of how to do this. Of course it depends on what is meant with spirituality. If spirituality means a "dedication to too good and useful things for humankind" then it would be a good thing. Here the problem starts with the Opus Dei ideology....

6. Q: What are the negative things in Opus Dei?
A: In short:
The Fascist ideology in Escriva's teachings. The fundamentalism. The
Intolerance towards other religions.
The dishonesty.
The danger inherent in the undemocratic structure of blindly following orders.
The danger inherent in the psychological control they have of their members due to the ``weekly chat'' where they have to tell the innermost details of their souls to their spiritual leaders.
The aggressive and manipulative way in which they try to catch new members.
The evil character of the founder.
The fact that they do not reveal their true goals and keep a lot of material secret from the public.
The smug thinking of belonging to an elite.
6.1 Q: What is fascism?
A: A good definition of it can be found at a site dedicated to reminding us of the crimes of the holocaust. (by Chip Berlet)
An other good definition comes from Umberto Eco (14 features of fascism): I used the one from Chip Berlet. (to compare Escriva's teachings with the (mostly equivalent definition from Eco is left as an exercise to the reader:))
Here are some quotations from that document:
The seeds of fascism, however, were planted in Italy. ``Fascism is reaction,'' said Mussolini, but reaction to what? The reactionary movement following World War I was based on a rejection of the social theories that formed the basis of the 1789 French Revolution, and whose early formulations in this country had a major influence on the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. . . . Fascists particularly loathed the social theories of the French Revolution and its slogan: ``Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.''
Liberty from oppressive government intervention in the daily lives of its citizens, from illicit searches and seizures, from enforced religious values, from intimidation and arrest for dissenters; and liberty to cast a vote in a system in which the majority ruled but the minority retained certain inalienable rights;
Equality in the sense of civic equality, egalitarianism, the notion that while people differ, they all should stand equal in the eyes of the law;
Fraternity in the sense of the brotherhood of mankind; that all women and men, the old and the young, the infirm and the healthy, the rich and the poor, share a spark of humanity that must be cherished on a level above that of the law, and that binds us all together in a manner that continuously re-affirms and celebrates life.
This is what fascism as an ideology was reacting against. Its support came primarily from desperate people anxious and angry over their perception that their social and economic position was sinking. Frustrated with the constant risk of chaos, uncertainty and inefficiency implicit in a modern democracy based on these principles, fascism, the antithesis of democracy became an option.. . . Fascism and Nazism as ideologies involve to varying degrees some of the following hallmarks:
Nationalism and super-patriotism with a sense of historic mission;
Aggressive militarism even to the extent of glorifying war as good for the national or individual spirit;
Authoritarian reliance on a leader or elite not constitutionally responsible to an electorate;
Cult of personality around a charismatic leader;
Reaction against the values of Modernism, usually with emotional attacks against both liberalism and communism;
Exhortations for the homogeneous masses of common folk (Volkish in German, Populist in the U.S.) to join voluntarily in a heroic mission - often metaphysical and romanticized in character;
Dehumanization and scapegoating of the enemy - seeing the enemy as an inferior or subhuman force, perhaps involved in a conspiracy that justifies eradicating them;
The self image of belonging to a superior form of social organisation beyond socialism, capitalism and democracy;
Elements of national socialist ideological roots, for example, ostensible support for the industrial working class or farmers; but ultimately, the forging of an alliance with an elite sector of society.
Abandonment of any consistent ideology in a drive for state power.
6.2 Q: Why are they Fascistic?
A: The term ``Fascist'' has created some confusion. The ideology of Opus Dei has all the features commonly found in the abstract political category of ``fascism'' even though it is a very special form of this ideology, since it is mixed with elements of the Christian religion. Reading Escriva's book ``The Way'' with the above definition of fascism in mind, it is evident that he is the perfect Fascist. Here are some indicators: In #849 he directly states that he is against Voltaire's ideas.
Fascist loathe Liberty:
They have this law and order mentality: every thing should be under the control of the leaders. Large chapters in the book are about leadership and blind obedience. I guess Hitler would have loved this book. (read #56 till #80) Of course, they want to control the information you get. Like in #339:
You shall not buy books without the advice of an experienced Christian. It is so easy to buy something useless or mischievous. Often people believe they are carrying a book under their arm ... but they only carry a load of mud. (Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #339)
According to Maria del Carmen Tapia they also read the private mail of their members. And of course they want enforced religious values, too. Some People argue that other spiritual works also recommend obedience as useful but this does not prove it is a good thing. Particularly, the blind obedience (blind because the Opus also controls the information one can get) is dangerous. Normally if a person joins a monastery he will have to submit to some obedience there too: but that obedience usually only concerns ``outside'' things. You will do the house work they want you to do and you would go to mass regularly ... etc. but you would still be allowed to think independently. The obedience that also concerns mind and thinking is of a much higher level of obedience. Would you want to live in a world where the way you have to think is dictated? Criticising religious things and a free will is not wanted and not allowed: (see e.g. #945, #53, ...)
Fascists loathe Equality:
Escriva teaches that people should not even be equal in the eyes of God!! (#98 priests are more valuable than other people). In many others the need for leadership is expressed (e.g. #60, #61) the whole chapters about leadership all implicitly suggest that there are people who are superior and this is their legitimation of why they should rule over others. (I think there is a teaching where he explicitly says that he does not believe in equality. Can't find it, though ...)
Fascists loathe Fraternity.
One would think that Fraternity is something every person would immediately agree with, but his idea of fraternity is rather limited to the fraternity within the sect. (#458,) Also it is not the humanity that is a motivation for fraternity but a selfish way of being strong within the sect and against THE WORLD. (#460, #462, #55, #924) There seems to be no idea in them that the people outside the sect are equal humans too; they are just potential victims for their ``apostolate'', enemies, or even ``devils''. At the moment where he calls someone ``devil'' he excludes these people from: ``... a spark of humanity that must be cherished on a level above that of the law, and that binds us all together in a manner that continuously re-affirms and celebrates life'' as it is expressed so neatly in the definition of fraternity. Furthermore the characteristics of fascism from the above document have been:
Nationalism and super-patriotism with a sense of historic mission. Nationalism is something they can not really afford as they want to be globally active. Nonetheless they do think a little bit of nationalism is good for being Catholic: read #525. Obviously their goal is not to win power in a country but to win power in the Catholic Church and in the whole world. Where fascism in general needs enemies to blame for all the evil Opus Dei has to be very selective. Because of its global nature it can not as easily pick other nations. It would be a dangerous game to openly spread hate against other religions. This would lead easily to contradictions with their own spirituality (one of their good sides) but also to intolerance of other religions, which is not hidden very well (see my chapter about tolerance in my FAQ. In any event, the main enemies they picked are:
all people who criticise them.
some mysterious Freemason... dark world conspiracy.
Glorifying war: see e.g.:#306 or #311. It is not clear how much the words are metaphors or how much they are meant as written. (They are in a chapter entitled ``more from the inner life'' (at least this is the name of the chapter in the German edition), but his points often have other meanings than just the one that the chapter would suggest. In Spain there are many Opus members in top positions in the army (from the TAZ/Berlin 15.9.1995). Or read about the Archbishop of El Salvador below.
Authoritarian reliance on a leader or elite not constitutionally responsible to an electorate. There is no democracy within the Opus Dei. The points which emphasise the importance of leadership are numerous.
Cult of personality around a charismatic leader. It may be that he was a man with very bad traits. It is curious that such a person has any status at all. However, in the practical life of the Opus Dei the members had to treat him and is relatives like if he where God himself. (read e.g. Carmen Tapia's book). Members still write letters to him although he is already dead. If you go and ask Opus Dei members, they will tell you that they have a lot of material about Escriva that they do not show to the public because it would destroy the portrait that they have painted of him.
Reaction against the values of Modernism, usually with emotional attacks against both liberalism and communism. e.g. see #849. Communism is not directly mentioned but the anti-communism is everywhere in Opus Dei.
Exhortations for the homogeneous masses of common folk (Volkish in German, Populist in the U.S.) to join voluntarily in a heroic mission - often metaphysical and romanticized in character. (What could be more metaphysical than religion?) Also, he constantly appeals to heroic feelings when he describes how noble it would be to serve the Opus Dei.
Dehumanization and scapegoating of the enemy - seeing the enemy as an inferior or subhuman force, perhaps involved in a conspiracy that justifies eradicating them. (Enemies are devils. or see e.g.: #833 where he constructs the image of Freemasons as a demon-like enemy;)
The self image of belonging to a superior form of social organisation beyond socialism, capitalism and democracy. Most Christians will see their belief not as something that contradicts democracy or socialism. However, by merging all his political statements in his book, Escriva places his beliefs in direct competition with political ideologies. From his Fascist ideas it is clear that he is against socialism. All the points about leadership/obedience show that he does not think all too well of democracy. I think he has no problem with capitalism, if you have enough money you can also buy a little bit of holiness by being a ``cooperator'' (see their homepage).
While their ideological root is definitely not directly national socialistic, the forging of an alliance with an elite of society is exactly what they do. What `` ostensible support for the industrial working class or farmers'' concerns: They keep them silent and obedient by promising them a better life in heaven with their ``sanctification of ordinary work'' slogan. This is an abuse of religion.
Abandonment of any consistent ideology in a drive for State power. Fascist ideology is in contradiction with Christianity and so it is not all to easy to combine these two things. The question is: Why did he press all the Fascist ideology into this book at all? Of course if you want to construct a sect than the ideology comes handy: The leadership/obedience constellation is especially useful, but then he could have hidden the ideology much better behind religiose explanations. The fact that the ideology is so open, suggests it must have been something very important to Escriva. But to make his sect a success he does not care that it is in contradiction with Christianity. (Maybe he did not see that at the beginning, but I imagine that a lot of people will have talked about that topic with him. If he did not want to agree with a logical argumentation he used his 2+2+God equation (#471). To agree with the arguments of others? Never! (#54) Furthermore: Inconsistencies and contradictions gives you more freedom when you want to use the ideology to direct people into certain directions. When you want to command them, the one thing you can use is this point, and when you want to command them otherwise you use another.
One last point: Like the Nazis' head the ``entartete Kunst'' (art that did not conform to the official sense of beauty) Escriva also labels modern art as ``morbid'' and ``subjective''. (While, of course it is subjective - but it does not hide that - but he implicitly claims that he has the objective truth). Cutting down the freedom of arts is also a sign of Fascistic and totalitarian governments.
Conclusion: As it can be seen there is a lot of Fascism in the book of Escriva and in his sect. The reader who is aware of it will find a lot more in his book and in the behaviour of Opus Dei. The strong focus on leadership in particular, makes this organisation extremely dangerous, and with the mind control of the weekly ``confident'' talks, their leaders have incredible power over their followers.

WANT TO KNOW IF OPUS DEI IS STILL FASCIST ...? All these are still on line.

A Fresh Look at Timeless TruthsFather C. John McCloskey, III, STD is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei and a research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute. Father John's articles and reviews, all of which are archived on this website, have been published in major Catholic and secular periodicals, including Catholic World Report, Crisis Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Register, Washington Times, the New York Times, and ACEPRENSA.
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anonymous girl, ex-member
anonymous girl, ex-member
anonymous girl, ex-member
anonymous boy from barcelona
girl from germany
girl, was "born" into opus dei
boy, wanted to become a member but ..
about opus dei at a university in texas
girl, tells about the secrecy there..
girl, tells about her friends and opus dei activity on campus of unversity
assistent numerary tells how she came to the opus dei
EVERY THING YOU SAY IS A LIE (en español, I wrote him a friendly response but as with all those people who claim that there are lies on my page he could not come up with anything substantial).
Girl tells how they worship Escriva at his tomb.
on the "apostolate" of "friendship"
You don't dialogue with these people... They are RIGHT
child of opus dei member seeks for persons who can understand her trauma
how opus dei betrayed the pro-life movement
opus dei people are good people
Indoctrination at the age of 9
Opus Dei Teacher in school for 11 year old
exchange students - primary target for recruitment

General information on cults and sects:
Washington Post about Cult and Mind Control
Book Excerpt: Totalism (excellent)
Cult Awareness
Understanding Cult Mind Control
ex-cult archive
sequiem - Sekteninformation Deutschland
Otherwise related information:
What is a psychologically healthy spirituality

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