Dei's Questionable Practices
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.
recruitment / undue pressure to join
of informed consent and control of environment
mortification (self-inflicted pain and deprivation) is perhaps the
most shocking practice. See the corporal
mortification web page for more details.
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
of Opus Dei, Cronica, v, 1963)
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
Dei has a highly structured apostolate. Opus Dei members form
"teams" and develop strategies to attract new members.
For example, if the potential recruit is an avid skiier, then
the numeraries may plan a weekend ski trip, when the "numerary
friend" is pressured to tell the recruit that she may have
a vocation, after which the numerary must report back to the Director.
If the recruit is receptive, then the Director may talk more in
depth about the vocation. They discuss "promising recruits"
at their daily get-togethers (for members only) and during spiritual
direction with Opus Dei priests and lay members. Opus Dei members
often know which recruits are closest to joining, even if the
person is hundreds of miles away.
Dei members are typically taught to always have twelve to fifteen
"friends," with at least three or four who are very
close to joining. This leads to the utilization of friendship
as "bait." Far too often, Opus Dei members drop friendships
with those who are unlikely to join Opus Dei.
Dei members are required to report regularly to their lay Spiritual
Directors on the progress of their personal recruiting. They also
fill out statistics on their "friends," which may include
the following: number of apostolic visits made; Opus Dei meditations
attended; Opus Dei retreats made; confessions with an Opus Dei
priest, etc. How does Opus Dei use this information? Why is it
necessary? The recruits do not know they are being discussed and
targeted in this way, a violation of their freedom and privacy.
Dei members befriend and cultivate young idealistic individuals
through front groups at universities and schools and/or through
affiliation with groups like Right to Life, young adult Catholic
groups and St. Thomas More Societies. Some groups are completely
Opus Dei-run and exist primarily for the purpose of attracting
potential Opus Dei members. The groups' affiliation with Opus
Dei is typically not immediately recognizable nor initially disclosed.
An example of an Opus Dei "front group" is UNIV, an
international convention of college students that is used by Opus
Dei to attract "select" individuals who could potentially
become members, particularly by participating in a yearly trip
to Rome during Easter week when unsuspecting participants are
aggressively pursued to make a commitment to Opus Dei while in
Rome at the Opus Dei headquarters. These statements are based
on the personal testimonies of former members, who also witnessed
first hand the targeting of potential Opus Dei members while participating
in groups not necessarily run by Opus Dei. The Opus Dei members
joined these groups in order to find and befriend individuals
who would more likely join Opus Dei.
In addition to groups targeting young people, Opus Dei also attempts
to attract potential "supernumerary" members by infiltrating
parishes throughout the world. It is often very difficult to determine
the extent of Opus Dei's influence in a given parish. Opus Dei
members very often conceal their identity to "outsiders."
Pressure to Join
individuals are relentlessly pursued to consider a vocation or calling
to Opus Dei.
Dei members carefully stage "vocational crises" at vulnerable
moments in recruits' lives. The recruits are often told that God
calls people at certain times in their lives, and if they say
"no" they will never receive God's grace in their lives
because they are "on the wrong track."
Dei members often tell their "friends" that failure
to follow a calling to Opus Dei will lead not only to a life of
misery and discontent, but possibly to eternal damnation.
of Informed Consent and Control of Environment
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.
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:"
Dei numeraries are expected to hand over their entire salaries
to Opus Dei, and generally may not hold their own bank accounts.
The numeraries are told to use money as if they were the mother
in charge of a large and poor family. They ask for the money
they need each week and are then required to report how it was
spent to the penny. Opus Dei does not provide any financial
report that indicates how the members' money is spent.
incoming and outgoing personal mail is generally read by the Directors
of each Opus Dei residence, without the knowledge or consent of
family and friends.
material is strictly controlled, as are television viewing, listening
to the radio, and other forms of recreation and entertainment.
Dei numeraries notify their Directors of (and secure permission
for) their comings and goings.
Dei numeraries are required to practice corporal mortification
such as the use of a cilice (a spiked chain worn around the thigh),
flagellation, and sleeping on the floor or on boards.
Dei numeraries are required to confess weekly and are strongly
discouraged from confessing to a non-Opus Dei priest.
Dei numeraries typically may not attend events which are not conducive
to proselytizing, such as athletic games, theater, concerts, movies,
etc. In the rare instances when they may attend these events,
permission must be secured from the Opus Dei directors.
Dei members are enjoined to confess even their slightest doubts
to Opus Dei priests and/or Spiritual Directors; otherwise, "the
mute devil takes over in the soul."
Alienation From Families
to family about involvement with Opus Dei is limited and even discouraged.
Dei teaches individuals (despite their ages) that it is acceptable
and even advantageous to leave parents and loved ones out of the
decision-making process because "they will not understand."
Most parents learn of their child's lifetime commitment to Opus
Dei months and even years later. Many times, parents do
not realize their children have joined because the numeraries
are told to remain in university residences and do not move into
centers designated exclusively for numeraries, so as not to raise
any suspicions. Gradually, the bond of trust between child
and parent is broken.
of pictures of loved ones is discouraged, not by rule, but by
Revised November 16, 2003