and Other Writings
following is the work of the individual author and does not necessarily
reflect the views or opinions of the Opus Dei Awareness Network,
Sects: Opus Dei
version of the paper presented at the XII World Congress of Sociology,
Madrid, 1990, published in “Revista Internacional de Sociología”,
Madrid, 1992) The Spanish version is posted on the Opus Libros website
Catolicas: El Opus Dei."
Catholic Church and Non-Catholic Sects
In late 1989, the Spanish Catholic Church issued a statement warning
the faithful against sects, new religious movements with eastern
roots, which began to proliferate in Spain. Two years before, in
November, 1987, the First International Congress on Sects and Society
took place in Barcelona. Its Proceedings reflect the judgments of
experts from several countries, particularly the United States,
where it seems that religious and political fundamentalism and the
process of social disintegration combine with a kind of free market
model for religions, to contribute to the flowering of this type
The arrival of these groups in Europe provoked a resolution of the
European Parliament in 1984, which urged member governments to take
measures to identify them and protect the more vulnerable citizens,
particularly children and young people. The Spanish Government created
a parliamentary commission for this purpose in 1988. Its recommendations
were adopted by the full Congress and mandate a number of steps
in accordance with the European Parliament resolution.
The recent declaration of the Spanish Church is similar to one made
by the bishops of the west of Ireland in 1983. The latter recalls
previous Church documents and contains three main themes. First,
it repeats common sociological teaching about the nature and danger
of sects. Second, it laments that sometimes the Church's own failings
lead Catholics to seek in sects what the Church ought to have provided
them. Third, It tries to distance the Church from these new religious
movements, as it calls them, to avoid the more pejorative label
Research into Christian sources of contemporary sectarianism has
produced some European literature like Massimo Introvigne's recent
Le sette cristiane , which complements work done mostly
by scholars from the United States, concerning the syncretism between
Christianity and oriental religions, and its connection to broad
social developments, which is particularly manifested as nostalgic
revivalism, the new kind of western fundamentalism.
The Spanish document also reveals a tactical concern. In Spain,
like other traditional Catholic countries, the Church witnesses
the spread of more or less Christian, often syncretistic, cults,
which direct their efforts to a broad popular audience, particularly
in rural areas. This has always occurred in the Caribbean and Brazil,
but now has more Protestant, North American overtones. An example
might be Mexico or to a lesser extent Central America, where the
Jehovah's Witnesses and similar organizations have won over significant
numbers of rural Catholics, satisfying their thirst for emotional
piety and community membership. At one point, the Catholic Church
requested that the Mexican Government suppress this missionary activity,
although that traditionally anticlerical government was more interested
in impeding the anti nationalist tendencies of the sectarian indoctrination
than in setting up obstacles to its religious proselytism. The Pope's
most recent trip to Mexico has been interpreted in this light as
In fact, the official Catholic Church no longer has its former influence
in rural areas because of lack of clergy and other causes, especially
the Vatican's doctrinal hostility to the liberation theologians,
politically committed to the poor.
Precisely here is where some sociologists see a distinction among
the new religious movements and the sects. See Carol Coulter's,
Are Religious Cults Dangerous? . The sects with Protestant
roots direct themselves primarily to the poor. Although the sects
with Catholic roots share some traits with the former, such as sentimental
pietism, they tend to reinforce class and traditionalist inclinations
of their members.
2. CATHOLIC SECTARIANISM: OPUS DEI
Neither the Spanish Church nor the Holy See has addressed intra-ecclesial
sectarianism. A certain amount of theological literature dependent
on sociology exists, which examines intraecclesial groups in the
light of Weber's well known distinction between church and sect.
Recently, the Canadian scholar Turcotte has attempted to pursue
Ernst Troeltsch's analysis of ecclesiastical group dynamics (Paul
Andre Turcotte, C.S.V., L'Eglise, la secte, la mystique et l'ordre
religieux) . However, one thing is theory, the other is
government action. Vatican centralism does not allow group dissidence,
but radical rightist groups and fundamentalisms are tolerated if
they are faithful to Rome. Rebellious movements like that of Lefevre,
fundamentalist rather than sectarian, are either brought back to
the fold or expelled from communion with the Church. Ecclesiastical
politics also plays a role today in protecting institutions like
Opus Dei, whose historical development presents an increasingly
sectarian character. When Catholic prelates like the Archbishop
of Westminster, observers, and critics of Opus Dei sectarianism,
have attempted to exert influence in Rome to control it, they have
not encountered favorable response in Rome except in private.
Furthermore, one must observe that societies like that of Spain
where Opus Dei was born and has chiefly flourished, do not seem
disposed to confront native phenomena with the same vigor they show
towards the imported variety. Even Spanish analysts of sects show
a kind of timidity induced by their environment. Of the two most
recent books (Pilar Salarrullana, Las Sectas: Un testimonio
vivo sobre los mes¡as del terror en España, Ediciones
Temas de Hoy, 1990  and Pepe Rodríguez, El poder de
las sectas, Ediciones B. Zeta, 1989 ) only the second labels
-very much in passing- the Work's activities as sectarian.
However, the truth is that according to any of the usual scientific
criteria and even with the definition of the Spanish Catholic Church
("Groups unwilling to dialogue, who proselytize unscrupulously,
and shelter themselves in ambiguity and mystery"), Opus Dei
would fit perfectly on the list of dangerous sects which appears
in published works and which is the basis upon which the civil authorities
of some countries act to assist victims.
It is quite true that the sectarian character of the Work, which
was present in embryo in the foundational project, has been accentuated
during the course of time, especially in proselytism with children.
See Alberto Moncada's Historia oral del Opus Dei, Editorial
Plaza y Janes, 1982 .
THE EVOLUTION OF OPUS DEI
During the 1930s and 1940s Opus Dei’s founder, José
María Escrivá, invited university students to re-Christianize
science and Spanish culture, contaminated, in his view, by modern
European intellectual trends. Europe and modernity became the fundamental
intellectual targets of the victors after the Civil War. This earliest
proposal by Escrivá is embodied in his book Camino
(The Way)  and was carried out in apostolic practice.
Thus, Escrivá’s first proselytes were primarily young
men with university studies begun, if not completed, who predominantly
devoted themselves to the university and competed, at times violently,
for chairs and research posts in Spanish higher education.
The prototype of a numerary was an intellectual with good manners.
The first Constitution emphasized this one needed by requiring a
university degree to join the Work. Women, who were to devote themselves
to domestic labors, only needed to possess that set of bourgeois
virtues which Escrivá summed up as: "It is enough for
them [women] to be discrete" (The Way, # 946 ).
During the mid-50s this changes. Escrivá needed power and
money to fuel his apostolic expansion, to respond effectively to
hostile groups, and above all, to struggle more successfully for
Vatican approval. To this end, the superiors promoted careers in
Spanish finances and politics for people of confidence, celibate
numeraries and also married supernumeraries. This was later repeated
in Italy, Portugal, France, and Latin America.
The paradigm of a member was then no longer the academician, but
the business executive, the manager. This transformation coincided
with a relative failure of the intellectual campaign, as doctrinal
censorship of members’ scholarly work increased and also because
the urgencies of apostolic work mitigated against an atmosphere
that could favor creative research.
The change of archetype broke the pattern of observance which Escrivá
had designed for the celibate members. The Opus Dei numerary is
obliged to observe certain precepts, practices copied from the life
of perfection of religious institutions like the Society of Jesus.
Not in vain did Escriva have Jesuits as spiritual directors! The
Opus Dei numerary had and still has to sustain an extensive and
intensive life of prayer and other observances, under very strict
vows of poverty -- he hands over his income and prepares detailed
expense accounts- chastity, and obedience. The obedience is both
intellectual, in the acceptance of ideological indoctrination, and
practical, regarding the manner of organizing his life and his profession.
That was not very difficult to attain when members were students
or professors, but it begins to be harder with business men and
Here the problems began. Some were internal -- conflicts of observance
and accounting; others were external -- attributing to the superiors
the political and commercial responsibilities of members. That is
the essence of the widespread criticism against the Work during
the 1970s. Accused of complicity with Franco in politics and of
capitalist mentality, it sees its canonical status and social image
Accordingly, and also for practical reasons, Opus Dei abandons direct
commercial activity during the 1970s, the so-called common works
or auxiliary societies. It tries to regroup its external manifestations
and concentrates on two new activities: first, education of children,
which was new in the sense that Escrivá did not envisage
it in his foundation although he ended by valuing it, and second,
the defense of traditional Catholicism.
The assumption of these new goals coincides with a certain withdrawal
of religious congregations, including the Jesuits, from the education
of the wealthy classes, where Opus Dei replaces them, and with the
elevation to the throne of St. Peter of a favorable Pope. The Pope
grants the desired status of ecclesiastical autonomy and uses Opus
Dei along with the very recent populist movement Communione e Liberazione
(Communion and Liberation) as the shock troops of his doctrinal
EDUCATION AND SECTARIANISM
A by-product of their concentration on education is the opportunity
which opens up to Opusdeists to proselytize boys and girls in their
schools. The boys and girls compensate for the loss or diminution
of university audience which is less disposed nowadays to join the
Work or any similar organization.
More or less conservative fathers and mothers, enthusiasts for old-fashioned
pedagogical discipline, when not themselves members of the Work,
entrust the education of their children to Opus Dei. It can thus
influence them from a tender age and bring them closer to a vocation,
in the tradition of other ecclesiastical mentors, whose strategy
used to be criticized by the early Opus Dei.
The expectation of great results overrules the early precautions
about proselytism, which is aimed today mostly at grammar school
children rather than at university or even high school students.
The pupils are prepared little by little for their formal incorporation
as celibate Opus Dei members. To be sure, general principles of
canon and civil law forbid this incorporation before the age of
eighteen. However, in this as in other aspects of its activity,
Opus Dei practice has discovered how to combine external respect
for the law with functional pragmatism which allows it, for instance,
to snare the youngsters in emotional complicity in their own loss
of independence, all the while proclaiming neutrality and concern
about the freedom of the affected children to parents concerned
about premature decisions.
“To this end, there has even been a little legal change”,
tells Javier R., a university student who entered the Work at sixteen
and left five years later. “Now there exists the status of
aspirant numerary, which one enters at sixteen; but in
fact, the bond is the same.”
Given this scenario and amid the spread of Opus Dei schools during
the 1980s, we get the raw material for sectarianism among children.
There is a parallel adult version, since Opus Dei has made contact
with part of the Catholic sector unwilling to open itself to the
teachings of the Second Vatican Council, disposed to a kind of militant,
emotional fidelity apparently discarded by the Church until John
Paul II became Pope, but which have been embraced by him.
The oscillations of Opus Dei strategy disconcert even old militants."The
Father explicitly told us that the Work would not have schools or
its own companies. Shortly after he died, the only obvious apostolate
is education, and the most striking public image, the number of
people embarked on commercial and political adventures organized
in the 1950s," confesses one of those early members, who has
voluntarily abandoned the new debacle.
In the light of the early experience, it is as shocking to contemplate
old professors, yesteryear committed to the intellectual redemption
of Spain, today pursuing youngsters who could be their grandchildren
in a curious exercise of spiritual pederasty, as it is to see the
boards of Spanish banks filled with celibate numeraries, whose vows
of poverty and chastity, not to speak of obedience, ends by contributing
to the good health of the financial system.
Whatever the meanders of Opus Dei history, the sectarian character
of its realization is obvious to observers inside and outside the
Church, as the principal defining characteristic of the new stage.
PROFILES OF OPUS DEI SECTARIANISM
The Barcelona Congress made it clear that the primary danger of
sectarianism is that essentially it narrows very profound tendencies
in human nature, like the need to belong, and also that in one or
another form, almost all social groups have certain sectarian traits.
When sectarianism has a religious basis, the possibility of its
implantation in personalities which are not necessarily unintelligent,
is much greater. The special psychological situation of the young,
their lack of experience, exploitable credulity, and immature idealism
increase that risk. Although the passage of time and acquisition
of lucidity may resolve the blockage and conflicts produced by early
affiliation to Opus Dei, the balance may be costly for many and
irreparable in some cases.
As occurs with other sects, Opus Dei leaders rely on that need to
belong, which for most people takes normal channels, the family,
love affairs, friendships, political affiliation, and voluntary
associations. Opus Dei fulfills all those functions for its celibate
members, and this is brought out especially by the usual description
that the Work inculcates in its adherents.
“The Work is above all and before all a family.” The
appropriation of family ties and loyalties to other social groups
is not Escriva’s invention. It is a simplified way of instilling
social cohesion, which has been used both by organizations which
try to exploit unconditional adhesion of their members as well as
by subcultures lacking hegemony. For example, the Italian mafia
has served both to replace political power in the undeveloped South,
and to organize a secret army to guarantee the supply of illegal
goods and services in urban North American.
The notion of family is basic to Opus Dei ideology and operation.
The supreme head is the Father. After Escriva’s death, the
denomination is applied to his successors. At the bottom of the
reasons for doing what they do, members allude to the primary tie,
and the main result is to lessen their rationality and the legality
of internal covenants and external activity. “The Father has
said it, the Father wants it,” are arguments to legitimate
procedures which are morally very dubious.
Since one must be submissive to the Father and those who stand in
his stead, and even “sacrifice one’s judgment”,
the negation of individual rights is plain. “The only right
of the members of the Work is to fulfill their duty”, says
one of Escriva’s maxims, in which he combines family patterns
with a military overtone, something very dear to him. “Military
people, just because they are that, have half our vocation already”,
he used to say.
The double family and military paradigm translates into the establishment
of an organization which is at once informal and rigidly hierarchical.
Decision processes, creation of internal opinion, or the nature
of the tie between leader and subject are clearly authoritarian
and one dimensional. Just as in the Army, “the regular channel”
is the model for communication.
The Work's bourgeois family structure is manifested in daily circumstances
derived from the requirement of “family life” imposed
on numerary. Escrivá did not achieve the management of household
tasks through the distinction between priests and lay brothers traditional
in many male religious orders. Nor did he instill self sufficiency
for modern life in his male members. Instead, he tried to canonize
female domestic service by writing in the first Constitution that
the women of modest social status who do the household work in the
houses of numeraries “are and are called servants”,
as if in a kind of servile state of perfection. Although the term
has disappeared, the way of treating maids continues, a mixture
of paternalism and the denial of rights, especially economic rights.
See the statements of Maria del Carmen Tapia in Historia oral
The utilization of the concept of family also identifies Opus Dei
with western fundamentalist organizations, which seem to aspire
to replace the functioning of modern society composed of individuals,
by relations between families and clans. In the last analysis, a
nostalgia for the old order, Medieval Christendom, also is present
in the organic vision of so many other sects.
From another perspective, the notion of the family as a social and
economic agency is part of the present conservative campaign for
the reduction of the role of the State. Furthermore, the notion
that man is a function of his domestic sphere, explains the double
standard of so many fundamentalists, ignorant or lettered, who are
implacable critics of private vices, although they frequently incur
in them, and tolerant with public vices.
“How many times have I been scandalized”, tells a former
Opus Dei priest, “that supernumeraries justified professional
immorality, aggressive business practices, or tax evasion, because
they had to feed and maintain the standard of living of their large
Similarly, a bishop here and there has grumbled that in those multitudinous
audiences in which the present Pope exhibits his talent as an actor,
the preamble consists of the exaltation of the family and tradition
to an enflamed young audience, frequently put together by Opus Dei
As in other sects, a cult of childishness is at the heart of the
Opus Dei indoctrination under the name of “spiritual childhood”
in The Way #859 . Whereas the puerility of adults, which tends
to be part of the emotional dynamics of totalitarian systems, becomes
comic, the corruption of young people is at times tragic.
As so many people who have left the Work explain, its directors
have the same narrow, authoritarian concept present in the inner
structure of other sects. It is enough to contradict the person
in charge or have a personal opinion about apostolate, or question
doctrine or tactics, for those who until now called themselves your
brothers to turn into your denouncers or even enemies, when they
do not become indifferent toward someone who had been their companion
for years. In the Work loyalty only functions upwards, and conversations
between "brothers" must always safeguard the hegemony
of the authorities. Critical commentaries are "in bad spirit"
and special relations that existed before or after becoming a member
must be repressed to avoid even the appearance of "particular
friendship." As in so many convents of friars and nuns, in
so many organizations composed of unmarried people, this engenders
constant hypocrisy, pretense and duplicity.
In the regime of Opus Dei numeraries there is a shower of prescriptions
and customs similar to those of other sects. There is domestic discipline,
suffocating external control, and even police vigilance. Many norms,
like the prohibition against female secretaries for male members
or of frequenting public recreational facilities including sports
stadiums, or the prohibition against woman smoking or wearing slacks,
are no more than picturesque application to the men and women of
Opus Dei of the cultural prejudices and obsessions of the Founder.
The norms that affect economic and spiritual dependence are more
Opus Dei numeraries hand over all their income including their inheritance
to the organization. The latter authorizes and keeps track of their
expenses. Although certain exemptions are granted, members who are
business men or professionals, the great majority live under a regime
of scrupulous accounting and supervision by superiors, which includes
the prohibition of having their own bank account and the obligation
to make wills in favor of the Work in the name of a straw.
The obligation of naming another numerary as one's heir which accompanies
the ceremony of fidelity or perpetual vows has bizarre results.
Since one usually names as heir senior, reliable numeraries, some
members, like Rafael Termes, ex-president of the association of
Spanish bank owners, is the designated in a large number of Opus
Any claim to similarity between this situation and that of "ordinary
faithful" with absolute freedom and autonomy, which Opus Dei
assures its members enjoy, is laughable. "How can people presume
to have freedom, who even accept that their leaders read the letters
that they receive before they do?" wondered recently the angry
father of a numerary, when he was informed about this odd custom.
Control by Opus Dei authorities used to extend to the majority of
companies in which members worked. "From Rome they would demand
minute doctrinal and financial accounting for the common works,"
explains Jos de Saralegui, an ex-numerary who worked in Opus Dei
magazine publishing. See Historia oral . After the
changes initiated during the 1970s, the control only affects one
part, activities labeled corporative, although one can detect few
differences between a school which is proclaimed corporative and
another one administered by members on behalf of their own leadership
The rhythm of Opus Dei economic activities is more like that of
a mafia than a sect. Since the 1950s members help each other in
public and private business, they choose members of the Work, "los
de casa", as collaborators and confidential employees. They
open their checking accounts in friendly banks, and, as became obvious
in the Rumasa scandal, they take advantage of the Opus Dei connection
to promote corporative interests. There is nothing that similar
organizations do not do; this is nothing special in the texture
of western capitalism, but it is disconcerting for Catholics of
good will, who looked for a greater Opus Dei presence in the moral
improvement of public life.
"It was impossible, both because of pressure from the Father
to obtain funds urgently and because of personal ambition of the
protagonists," confesses Antonio Pérez, one of the most
important early leaders. See Historia oral . The contribution
of Opus Dei politicians, professional and business men to strengthen
the most rugged type of capitalism appears in recent history of
countries like Spain and Chile, and follows the pattern of old collusion
between capital and ecclesiastical interests denounced by prophetic
voices. That is not particularly important, except to round out
the professional and social profile of the adult member of Opus
Dei, who after his indoctrination as a child and youth, has little
concern for social change, nor does he participate in the efforts
of labor unions, nor does he even work in public charitable organizations.
The usual thing is to see him on the board of directors of banks
and industries, in the most self-serving sector of the professions,
and in rightist parties and governments, besides, of course, in
the armed forces and education. Women, for their part, whether single
or married, professionals or housewives, gravitate toward the bourgeois
feminine patterns exemplified in the Spanish magazine Telva
published by female members.
What is authentically sectarian is one's spiritual trajectory. From
the time he enters the Work, a member is forbidden to go to confession
with any priest who does not belong to the institution and is authorized
to hear confessions. An ample literature on the theme of the "good
shepherd" and the slogan of "washing dirty linen at home"
legitimates the sealing off of members’ consciences from the
outside and makes mental control by superiors more simple. Opus
Dei priests, furthermore, employ information received in the confessional
to design the strategy to be followed with candidates for membership,
in a sui generis interpretation of the secret of confession.
To further tighten the circle of mental dependence and group loyalty,
all members must make a weekly "confidence" similar in
nature to confession, with the director of their house or center,
its lay head, in which the most explicit sincerity is encouraged
toward people who lack priestly ordination and frequently experience.
The cult of confession is highlighted at the basilica of Torreciudad,
Aragon, where there are dozens of confessionals. All the pilgrims
to this particular place of exaltation of the Father, are encouraged
to make confession the culmination of their spiritual excursion.
"In some sense," comments a well informed psychiatrist,
"it is the consequence of the climate of guilt maintained by
fundamentalists cults. To have a bad opinion about oneself, to believe
that only help of others will make one behave well, self humiliation
as a group tactic: these are typical traits of an Augustinian moral
stance which leads to that utilization of frequent confession as
permanent self inculpation, which in turn finishes by creating a
dependency, an addiction. It produces, on the one hand, either serious
pessimism about mankind, or, on the other, a sort of person without
moral scruples because everything can be fixed in confession."
“In what concerns ex-numeraries of Opus Dei”, the psychiatrist
continues, "I have had in my office men who have reached the
age of thirty in the belief that their worst sin, their greatest
infraction of the moral order was masturbation. On occasion I have
had to actually reconstruct moral awareness in persons who had not
been accustomed to exercise ethical options in a social context
of inter subjective interests, which is where they acquire psychological
relevance. The absolute surrender of these people to the judgment
of their superiors makes it difficult for them to reach maturity.
The normal 'construction of the self' has not taken place in their
lives. Frequently, what there is, what remains, under their surrender
is tremendous narcissism, ethical childishness, with great deficiencies
and gaps. Besides, there is a healthy asceticism, especially if
one sacrifices oneself for others, but for people who in the last
analysis do not have the tranquility of convent life, Opus Dei's
ascetic practices constitute a series of irritations. However much
they are sublimated, and except for cases of strong personality,
they eventually produce ill-humored, easily-excitable types, unbalanced
by habitually going contrary to their natural inclinations. With
frequency, it is other people who have to pay."
In May, 1990, I heard from an ex numerary who had gone to confession
with a priest of the Work, an old friend, after many years. At the
end, the priest encouraged him to return and even said: "Call
me even at night, if you have problems," alluding to that feeling
of guilt which obsesses so many Opus Dei members regarding nocturnal
The incapacity of numeraries to understand and manage their sexuality,
their sentiments, is similar to that of many religious or celibate
ecclesiastics, who upon leaving their state find it difficult to
adapt themselves to a committed relationship or to emotional loyalties.
"A long time passed for me even to become familiar with my
body, toward which I had the typical reticence which was recommended
to us in the Work," explains an ex-numerary. Those same frequently
very young numeraries have to counsel married supernumeraries about
their conjugal lives.
At the local level because of their exaggerated loyalty, it is precisely
persons who are most fanatic and most zealous about the Work's regulations,
who are entrusted with power. Especially, when they are young, this
leads to authentic violations of human rights, or even worse, to
systematic self denial of such rights.
direction, in sum, becomes a mechanism to exploit the energies of
members in benefit of the Work. Only thus can one understand the
expansion and intensity of the corporative accomplishments in the
group's very brief history.
the price is to progressively reduce humans to robots, who execute
one dimensional strategies to attain old objectives of the most
traditional Catholicism, so often interpreted through the caprices
and obsessions of whoever is in charge at the moment. The Work's
unwritten history includes a vast inventory of things which Escrivá
and other superiors forced so many members of the Work to do in
the name of apostolic efficacy, of exhausting proselytism, of financial
urgencies. In historical perspective, they were exercises of pure
The profile of a young Opus Dei member, especially of that great
majority which enters in the round of indoctrination as a child
and then goes on to teaching or internal bureaucracy, responds to
the characteristics of what Hoffer calls "the true believer"
in The True Believer. 
his unconditional dedication with his planning book and time organized
in the "confidence" during the early years, the Opus Dei
member develops a simplistic, Manichean attitude toward life, which
leads him to be extremely intolerant and generally obsessive.
Internal regulations about the sources of information also influence
this. The institute's organs of spiritual direction unceasingly
send the centers and houses documents and papers on the most varied
themes to orient members with "good doctrine".
Members are practically forbidden to read anything but specialized
professional literature without the superiors' permission, and even
professional matters are ideologically tinted. Recently a numerary
who had to read the Communist Manifesto because of his
studies, was provided with an expurgated version. The organization's
Index of Forbidden Books is longer
than the Church's abolished version. There is rigorous control over
newspapers and magazines which enter houses of the Work. They run
the gamit "from ABC to the right" comments a Spanish journalist
ex-member. Television programs are previously selected by the head
of the house and friendships outside the Work are judged above all
in function of apostolate.
The rules apply especially to celibate male and female members.
Married members, who constitute that longa manus by which
Escrivá hoped to transform society, have a somewhat more
relaxed regime, although given the Institute's spiritual physiognomy
there are not many intellectuals, artists, nor members of critical
or creative professions among them. Physicians, engineers, lawyers,
officers, and business men predominate. Since married men are directed
spiritually by bachelors, they come to share their prejudices and
THE DANGERS OF SECTARIANISM
With the passage of time in such an enclosed frame of reference,
the personalities of those who are supposed to be in the middle
of the world gradually deteriorate toward schizophrenia. In this
regard it is interesting to note how the chief of psychiatry of
the University of Navarre Clinic during the 1960s, himself an Opus
Dei member, left the University and the Work because he refused
to simply sedate into conformity all the members who arrived their
with personal crises. Depressions, anguish, and moral and psychological
conflicts are very frequent among male and female numeraries, both
because of all kinds of repressions to which they subject themselves
and because of the need to constantly dissemble in and out of the
Work. In Spain there are "trustworthy" psychiatrists,
specialized in treating them. In those dumps for maimed life stories
which are mental institutions, male and female Opus Dei numeraries
and a priest here and there begin to abound. Their health pays the
price of their manipulated psyches.
Some physicians are astonished by the stress which so many Opus
Dei boys and girls suffer, despite the fact that their principal
obligation is to study and that all of them insist their dedication
is joyous. “Stress is a consequence, among other things, of
the constant dissimulating toward the outside”, points out
that university student cited above. “For example, in my first
period, I was advised by my director to tell my parents that I was
going to a library to study every afternoon, when in reality I was
going to an Opus Dei club. To make that lie compatible with my own
sense of honesty, every afternoon I headed for the library, and
spent five minutes there before going to the club. These little
daily tortures begin to stress you and only upon leaving and after
consulting a psychiatrist, did I get back my peace of mind. I just
read Steven Hassan’s recent book Combatting Cult Mind
Control  and it recalled to me many things that happened
in the Work”.
The community life of unmarried men and women is a model of disciplinary
rigidity along conventual and military lines, although external
middle class signs give the impression that they are ordinary citizens.
"I could not bear the idea of growing old in that atmosphere",
was the reason a numerary in his forties from Madrid gave for leaving.
"To pretend to be happy and spend your life crying alone was
one of my greatest torments in Opus Dei", confesses a numerary
woman who left the Work at a relatively advanced age.
The temptation and sometimes the attempt at suicide is reported
by other participants See the statements by Miguel Fisac, in Historia
oral del Opus Dei by Alberto Moncada .
These psychological costs of sectarianism are the principal grounds
that drive celibate members to reevaluate their lives. It is estimated
that at least eight out of every ten Opus Dei youths abandon the
organization as soon as they arrive at a sufficiently mature age
to be able to clarify their internal contradictions, although neither
Opus Dei nor the Church provide statistics about the entrances and
departures, nor about practically any other topic. Still less do
they open their sources of information to outside observers.
Besides, since internal criticism is not allowed and surfaces exclusively
as problems of individuals, the result is the perseverance of a
type of person who values loyalty more than reason, and tends to
underline the emotional facets of his dedication. This can be detected
in the quality of Opus Dei spiritual life.
"Our prayer was reduced to thinking and rethinking the words
of the Father, who in the Work practically takes the place of God,
and to make plans for apostolate," declares a Venezuelan ex-numerary
Few people in Opus Dei publicly stand out because of the Gospel
virtues of gentleness, charity, poverty, and altruism, which characterize
Christians who overcome their personal selfishness to give themselves
to others. Opus Dei's personal and apostolic elitism is an explanation
for this and the human profile of well known members emphasizes
it. "Are you making so many sacrifices and so many prayers
to end like ...?" a Madrid professor recently reproached a
young numerary, mentioning a well known Opus Dei banker.
Yet, paradoxically, these public men of Opus Dei provide an institutional
alibi against the charge of sectarianism. The great majority of
men and women numeraries labor in internal activities or education
and constitute the main vehicle of Opus Dei sectarianism. However,
some men and women, acknowledged in each country as Opus Dei members,
dedicate themselves to politics, finances, and the professions.
They have to accept the rules of the game in their circles and seem
normal, although usually very conservative. How they can sustain
that double life, the combination of sectarian precepts and doctrines
with behavior adjusted to the secular society in which they act,
is something they never explain, although it can be attributed to
the dose of cynicism prevalent in so many mature Opus Dei members.
In fact it might be said, that in the regime for male Opus Dei numeraries
there are two formulas: one full of rigor applies to the young and
to those devoted to internal or strictly apostolic activities. The
other is for those mature adults who have organized their professional
life outside the Work and who have an implicit dispensation from
many of the observances of the first group, justified by reasons
of naturalness and efficacy. The young do apostolate, the old get
money and influence, might sum up the division of labor.
"In reality," explains a Roman canonist, "Opus Dei
has failed to create a model of lay apostolate. In their style of
life and actions, the great majority resemble friars in civilian
garb, and the others, the older non-clerical members, hardly show
signs of having dedicated their lives to making the Gospel permeate
Recently, Spain has been witness of the strange spectacle of the
banker José María Ruiz Mateos, whom Opus Dei presented
to its clientele as a paradigmatic model of supernumerary because
of his large family, his continual donations to the institution,
his ability to find work for members and cooperators. Ruiz Mateos’
finances have been dismembered by the law and politics. His Opus
Dei colleagues and leaders have finished by repudiating him. The
controversy has brought into the light of day the peculiarities
of spiritual direction, fraternity, settling of internal scores,
jealously kept secrets of financing. To top it all off, we have
an Opus Dei version of the traditional Spanish collusion between
capital and the ecclesiastics, with trimmings of Andalusian folklore.
People of the Work are not very given to contemplation, to mysticism,
to religious studies. Their centers of studies and publications
hardly have theology worthy of the name, in the judgment of most
experts. The consensus among the latter is that Opus Dei spirituality
primarily produces agents of Vatican policy, repeaters of slogans,
and specialists in canon law.
As a consequence of their increasing role as apologists for traditional
doctrine, the members of Opus Dei are now distinguished by the vehemence
of their condemnations of liberation theology and attempts at Church
renewal. It is frequent to see young Opus Dei members in violent
demonstrations against family planning clinics because the war against
abortion or in favor of confessional education gives them the chance
to prove their new vocation. In fact, the president of the Spanish
anti-abortion campaign is an Opus Dei physician.
Some observers have suggested that in reality, Opus Dei people see
their apostolate as a conquest of power in the Church in the conviction
that when they are in charge, everything will be well. See the declarations
of Raimundo Panikkar in Historia
oral del Opus Dei . One might get the impression that
the ultimate goal of Opus Dei sectarianism would be to control Church
government. In this sense, Opus Dei which is doctrinally very similar
to Cardinal Lefevre's movement, is distinguished from it, because
Lefevre defended traditional doctrine risking confrontation with
the Vatican, while Opus Dei wants above all to enjoy papal favor.
The conception of the Papacy as an absolute monarchy, which characterizes
the present curia, has been taken over by Opus Dei theologians with
particular enthusiasm. That would also explain in part, the growing
incorporation into Opus Dei of persons of rudimentary mentality,
belonging to emerging social classes, in opposition to a certain
social distinction of the early times. Inevitably, this is a fruit
of the expansion of the organization into areas and layers of society
which are favorable to its message.
This would also relate to the question about whether there exists
a particular type of candidate for sectarianism, predisposed to
it by temperament or background. In the light of the Opus Dei experience,
one must reply that there is not so much a personality especially
susceptible to uncritical indoctrination as a progressive clientelism
among groups whose intellectual options are being reduced and whose
religious options come to coincide with their intellectual options.
In this sense, members of Catholic, Protestant, or oriental fundamentalist
sects come to resemble each other, although they disagree and even
contradict each other bitterly. Fanatics of any persuasion come
to say that the "end justifies the means" and that intentions
are what matters. With these two recipes, mankind has seen dreadful
episodes of abuse at the hands of those who saw themselves, as Opus
Dei people see themselves today, as the only trustworthy group,
elected by God to interpret his plans and carry them out. According
to Introvigne, psychologists insist that sectarianism is characterized
by the belief that one possesses the truth which constitutes the
only source of salvation. That facilitates the other two traits
of aggressive proselytism and morbid dependence on the chief, the
Some sociologists continue to maintain that the emptiness of the
American model of society, with its materialism, its human ties
based on primary groups or money, is the main trigger for the explosion
of sectarian associations . They add that the absence of secular
moral projects like interclass solidarity, promotion of justice,
or ecological ethics, favor the success of groups like Opus Dei.
That, however, is a simplification of modern society, whose very
fragmentation makes comprehensive analysis difficult. In any case,
nostalgia or the promise of an organic society is visible in the
sectarian message, and provides sustenance for many minds incapable
of confronting the abysses and questions of human existence.
CIVIL LAWS REGULATING SECTARIANISM
Turning from sociology to social policy, the question for legislators
and moralists is how to avoid the proliferation and impact of sects
like Opus Dei. The guarantee of the basic western right to association
and commerce leaves a great deal of room for exploitation of credulity
and psychological needs. Our society’s philosophical conception
of freedom implies individual responsibility for one’s own
life, and the impossibility that the authorities constantly watch
over citizens’ personal or group adventures.
Furthermore, the majority of young people who go through sectarian
periods are able to come out of them under their own power, if they
have the opportunity to mature socially, to know other realities,
to have varied experience. If they do not, they may perfectly well
combine fanaticism with cynicism and constitute the inevitable fundamentalist
sectors of our society which ultimately serve the status quo, although
they claim to aspire to organic utopias.
It is curious to observe how Opusdeists or Moonies, who live in
collectivized communities where individuals are strictly subordinated
to leaders, share with capitalist ideologues profound hatred of
communism and collectivism. That incidentally provides them with
good contacts and good jobs in western political and economic nerve
centers. Indeed, the professional education imparted with greatest
success by Opus Dei centers is American style business management.
There is no other explanation for the great number of companies
which compete to hire its graduates. This contrasts with many other
male and female members of religious orders or lay people in the
Third World or the First, who resolve to defend the rights of the
poor and the persecuted in the name of the Gospel, and are therefore
disliked, persecuted, or even annihilated by the powers that be.
These and other considerations prove that despite their best efforts,
Opus Dei people and especially the leadership suffer from great
confusion about their own activity, Church doctrine, and the role
of religion in modern society. Except for the ascetic insistence
on unconditional dedication, there are hardly any doctrinal guidelines
for Opus Dei apostolic action, other than continuous and frequently
useless predication of simple fundamentalism.
In any case, members of Opus Dei attain their fulfillment, their
happiness in this peculiar manner, or so at least they affirm. The
bad thing is that this happiness implies proselytism, not letting
others alone. It seems as though they are not comfortable taking
their own path and need to maintain a permanent posture of recruitment,
not only to guarantee group survival but also to feel well psychologically.
Certain psychiatrists who attend former Opus Dei members in Barcelona
confirm that this is the consequence of basic insecurity. "I
have reached the conclusion," one of them affirms, "that
the goal of Opus Dei is pure reproduction, that there be more of
them. They believe in quantity more than quality."
Public powers can limit sects by watching out for institutional
deceit and aggressive proselytism, along the lines suggested by
the European Parliament. Public identification of activities so
that Opus Dei, for instance, can not shield itself under other misleading
labels, and the protection of persons who are not adults along the
lines indicated by the Archbishop of Westminster, for example, are
valid formulas. In certain countries like Canada, the church hierarchy
has already obliged Opus Dei to identify its activities, although
the formula employed, "The responsibility for the doctrine
and spiritual life of such and such a school or center has been
entrusted to Opus Dei," continues to be ambiguous and evade
legal and management responsibility.
Until a very short time ago it was practically impossible, not just
for ordinary people, but for clergymen, for many bishops, for the
enormous majority of members, to know the association's Constitution,
its regulations, and rules of the game. "Everything was oral,
verbal, about 'trusting', about 'surrendering', the simplistic approach
that 'things are going to go well', that 'the authorities are never
mistaken'. That was true even when the letter of the hidden regulations
imposed little by little extreme formalization of activities, a
progressively more literal obedience," recalls a law professor
and former member.
The obstination of journalists and an occasional disruptive bishop
have produced some benefits by way of public clarification, but
it is still very difficult to be precise about the nature of the
bond that unites members with leaders, the effects of that bond,
the way of resolving conflicts. It must be remembered that Opus
Dei has gradually changed the letter of its regulations according
to the strategy employed at different moments to obtain Vatican
Three members of Opus Dei, Fuenmayor, Gómez-Iglesias, and
Illanes have recently published a book El itinerario jurídico
del Opus Dei. Historia y defensa de un carisma . They apparently
intend to respond to a book by Giancarlo Rocca, L’Opus
Dei. Appunti e documenti per una storia . The large tome
does not cite Rocca nor other scholars who dissent from the Work.
Moreover, it treats canonical documents selectively, and insists
on sketching Escrivá in superhuman shades, as if at the age
of twenty he had not only a distinct spiritual and moral vision
of his foundation but also a juridical one as well. What is important
for our purposes, is that this book hardly refers to internal law
and less still does it clarify the reciprocal moral and legal relations
between government and subjects. See in this context the Critical
Note on the book, published by Rocca in the Jornal Claretianum,
vol. XXIX, 1989 .
The problem of uncertainty about the Opus Dei regime is aggravated
in the case of children, because many families, many parents, send
their children to Opus Dei schools and residences in search of structured
education, assuming they will not be the object of moral coercion
or that if they are, later stages of their life will let them overcome
Numerous anecdotes on this subject have been gathered by the Asociación
Pro Juventud of Barcelona, among others. Hundreds of fathers and
mothers are first puzzled and then complain about the pursuit via
telephone to which their sons and daughters are subjected by people
who for them are simple classmates. They do not know that these
classmates are probationary members, apprentices of the Work, and
have promised to their leaders and colleagues to not leave those
classmates alone and must explain each week how they carry out the
Besides, many clients and users of Opus Dei services are unaware
of the details of Opus Dei indoctrination and practice. Many others
are not sufficiently sensitive about young people's right to privacy
and to respect for their personality.
We noted at the outset that many political and civil organizations
have sectarian traits in greater or lesser degree. At a given moment
they also stimulate unconditional adherence and uncritical subordination.
In such a climate, an organization permitted by the Church and even
chosen by the present Pope, has a kind of absolute license to do
its own thing and only be criticized privately by bishops and other
responsible Church figures, who prefer not to risk their position
within the Vatican structure on this account.
Furthermore, for a long time, in the not so distant Franco era,
it was almost impossible for criticisms of the Work to appear in
the Spanish press. Today, the peculiarly capitalist pressures that
function within the means of communication, Vatican warnings, and
full time dedication of a group of Opusdeists to manipulate information
do not make things much easier.
Given the practice of Opus Dei subordination, it is advisable to
underline its economic aspects. Institutionally, Opus Dei activities
do not generally identify themselves. Its schools, activities, buildings,
financial resources, and so forth are usually in the name of societies
or foundations directed or owned by members or sympathizers. As
long as those members and sympathizers respect group discipline,
they obey the internal superiors and maintain various private pacts
of subordination with them, such as signed sale agreements for shares
of stock. That makes it especially difficult for people damaged
by Opus Dei to bring legal action.
In personal terms, members and especially female members, who have
worked for the Opus Dei for many years, leave without the right
to any kind of accounting which would acknowledge their efforts,
as is now customary in other apostolic organizations. "After
thirty years of working practically for my food, I found myself
outside with a couple of dresses in a suitcase for all of my possessions,"
narrates a numerary woman from Madrid.
Many members lack the information and even energy to pose the appropriate
demands and even prefer to forget that stage of their life quickly.
Frequently, the superiors suggest to those who leave that they should
forget that stage of their life "as soon as possible"
and give hints threatening their professional future if they try
to make demands or "speak", thus engendering fears that
many former members admit having in relation to their past.
Others, on the contrary, concerned about having to make their own
way in life with no economic means when they are no longer young,
accept forced perseverance as a lesser evil. "Where am I going
to go at my years?", a mature clergyman of the Work recently
confided to a friend.
The Opus Dei servants take with one hand the money they receive
for their efforts in houses and centers of the Work and with the
other they hand it over to the internal authorities. What is worse,
they are not usually registered with social security and are even
more unprotected than others if they leave their servile work. For
María Rosa Boladeras, director of the Asociación Pro
Juventud, these women are the most harmed by Opus Dei. "The
majority joined believing they were going to obtain a diploma in
hostelry and tourism and wound up washing plates and serving meals
for Opus Dei men." "After eleven years, my best ability
is to make little pastries," commented one of them. "They
take vows that nobody explains to them legally, and when they come
to our Association," Boladeras explains, "they are tremendously
confused, especially about their own rights. They are kept under
false pretenses, something that they usually realize only when they
These are internal human rights issues which deserve greater public
investigation and protection, although one must admit that the legal
and judicial structure in Spain and similar countries, does not
afford much hope in this regard. In addition, it would seem that
the Latin, Spanish culture is more authoritarian, less sensitive
to manipulations of persons by groups. In contrast English speaking
countries tend to protect individuals better. See, for example,
the accusations and anecdotes about relations between members of
the Opus Dei and their leaders, which appear in the interviews in
the recent work by the Irish journalist Fergal Bowers, The Work.
An Investigation into the History of Opus Dei and How It Operates
in Ireland Today . Similar books have been published in
England and Germany.
For the moment, legal protection, insistence on information, on
publicity, sensitizing judicial and police authorities to this type
of human rights violations, are the only practical way, the only
line of defense against Opus Dei sectarianism, at least while the
organizations continues to enjoy Vatican favor and the Vatican continues
under present leadership.
INFORMATION ABOUT OPUS DEI
Secrecy is a quality shared by Opus Dei and other sects, more interested
in propaganda or apologetics than information, and fearful that
"bad news" may frighten the faithful flock. The pertinent
strategy is very simple. On the one hand, the member hears that
things about the Work, the good and the bad, must not transcend
the family circle, by repeated slogans such as: "Dirty linen
is washed at home", "One must not throw pearls to swine",
and so forth. Members who practice "discretion" properly
do not explain the nature of their ties in public nor give data
about their personal and collective apostolate, nor even if they
can help it, do they recognize that they are members of the Work.
The allegedly intimate nature of their vocation converts into something
private, areas of life that other people do not hesitate to consider
public, or at least not secret, so that most members develop an
odd personality with unhealthy suspicion toward anybody who is not
one of their own.
This mentality is of long standing. It comes from the foundational
epoque in 1941 when Escrivá requested and obtained from the
bishop of Madrid that the Regulations of the Work should be considered
secret for reasons of humility and of efficacy. Even when that might
be explained by the political climate of post Civil War Spain and
the mentality of a young priest fearful of potential enemies, secrecy
has accompanied the Work all during its history and constitutes
one of its worst facets.
After the first approval of Opus Dei, the pressures from its leadership
on the Holy See to keep its secrets are constant: not to inform
bishops about its activities or regulations, not to have to give
names or addresses. The 1950 Constitutions and supplementary documents
like the Instruction of St. Gabriel and many internal notes and
notifications become Byzantine on the topic of how Opus Dei activity
must be kept secret, the zeal with which papers are to be stored,
the oaths of silence taken by members of the internal bureaucracy.
See Historia oral .
In 1987, on the occasions of the Calvi scandal and the failure of
the Banco Ambrosiano, a debate took place in the Italian Parliament
and the Government was interrogated about Opus Dei secrecy. In consequence,
the Vatican felt obliged to warn Opus Dei members and impose upon
them the duty to reveal their affiliation when they are legitimately
questioned, although to judge by subsequent events they have not
paid much attention.
In a sense, for simple people, the secret of membership, the pleasure
of belonging to something mysterious and selective are added attractions.
However, too frequently, the defenders of Opus Dei secrecy are also
defenders of bank secrecy, and the secrecy becomes, as in so many
organizations, the way one hides maneuvers and power pacts from
public scrutiny or even from eyes of the interested, affected members.
"Someone might think," confesses an ex-numerary who is
now a clinical psychologist, "that the secrets in the Work
would be a way of keeping special formulas that give access to mystical
union or prescriptions for smiling asceticism or even ways of cultivating
virtues. When one finds out that secrecy serves to hide where we
had money or who were the legal owners of stocks or to fulfill minute
errands about management of lives and properties, one can only smile."
The tactical side of secrecy, that other people do not find out
what you are going to do or how you are going to do it is a by product
of those youthful fears of Escrivá . He continued to maintain
in confidence until he died, "that people don’t understand
us, that one can’t trust anybody, that many people were after
me." His conspiratorial mentality had a basic pessimism about
human nature, if not just plain small town suspiciousness. However,
Escrivá’s mentality also included, as some of those
who surrounded him report, another factor, vanity. He thought he
was very original in his foundation and feared people would copy
Another important consideration in the growth of Opus Dei secrecy
is doubtless the number of compromising things that might be uncovered,
like lists of likely contributors with their personal characteristics,
summaries of conversations with bishops and so on. That also produced
the expansion of internal bureaucracy, to which at present, according
to reliable calculations, one of every three members of the Work
The secrecy is sometimes childish. Many members understand undifferentiatedly
as matters for discretion, apostolic, economic, and every day information,
until they become strange beings for relatives and colleagues. This
is particularly evident in the handling of telephone messages in
residences, in mail, in their manner of lying about simple facts
of address, family, and so forth.
More serious is that the organization’s markedly hierarchical
nature leads superiors to compartmentalize information so that some
members, including the majority of the young or married people,
learn things that affect the Work or even themselves from outside
Documents and government notes exchanged among the different levels
of Opus Dei authorities are jealously guarded and the few people
who have access to them emit several oaths of silence in that regard.
Or again, leaders and subordinates always avoid public confrontation
and discussion and do not usually attend to informational meetings,
unless they are guaranteed the absence of criticism or critics.
With an extraordinarily childish approach, directors and members
in charge of the Work’s public relations, take it for granted
that if they do not give information about internal matters, no
one will obtain them, forgetting that there are many former members
who have no reluctance to reflect in public about their own path
and that there have also many witnesses and participants in the
Work’s actions who do not think like it.
Therefore, it is now fairly easy to have reliable information about
the nature and operation of the group based on declarations of different
To label these sources as acting in bad faith, out of resentment,
or traitors is another quality which Opus Dei shares with other
In any case, the interested reader can inform him or herself sufficiently
without the necessity of direct acquaintance. After a stage in which
books and articles about the Work could be classified as apologetic
or critical with hardly any shades of interpretation, there are
today sociologists and journalists who study the phenomenon with
empirical methodology, relying above all on oral testimony. German,
Swiss, French, Spanish, Latin American, and English speaking scholars
become acquainted with the sources, consult each other, and share
their analyses and the difficulties of investigating a group which
might be judged the principal contemporary contribution of Spanish
Among the apologetic bibliography, we would mention Pedro Rodriguez’s
book Monseñor José María Escrivá de
Balaguer y el Opus Dei en el 50 Aniversario de su Fundación,
Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1985 . For more complete and
less propagandistic information see the bibliography of Giancarlo
Rocca’s book  or that of Michael Walsh, The Secret
World of Opus Dei .
Massimo Introvigne, Le sette cristiane, Mondadori, 1989.
Carol Coulter, Are Religious Cults Dangerous? Dublin &
Cork: The Mercier Press, 1984.
Paul Andre Turcotte, C.S.V., L'Eglise, la secte, la mystique
et l'ordre religieux in Eglise et Theologie, 20, 1989.
Las Sectas: Un testimonio vivo sobre los Mesías del Terror
en España, Pilar Salarrullana, Temas de hoy, 1990.
El poder de las sectas, Pepe Rodríguez, Ediciones
B. Zeta, 1989
oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes,
The Way by Josemaria Escriva, Scepter Publications
The Way, #946 "If you want to give yourselves to God
in the world, more important than being scholars (women need not
be scholars: it's enough for them to be prudent), you must be spiritual,
closely united to our Lord through prayer. You must wear an invisible
cloak that will cover every single one of your senses and faculties:
praying, praying, praying; atoning, atoning, atoning."
oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes,
#859 Sometimes we feel the urge to act as little children. What
we do then has a wonderful value in God's eyes and, as long as we
don't let routine creep in, our "little" works will indeed
be fruitful, just as love is always fruitful.
oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes,
 The True Believer, Eric Hoffer, Harper and Row, 1951
Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve
Hassan, Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1998
oral del Opus Dei by Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y
Le sette cristiane, Massimo Introvigne, Mondadori,
Proceedings of the Barcelona Congress, published by Asociación
Fuenmayor, Amadeo de; Gómez-Iglesias, Valentín; Illanes,
José Luis: El itinerario jurídico del Opus Dei.
Historia y defensa de un carisma, 1990.
Giancarlo Rocca, L’Opus Dei. Appunti e documenti per una
storia, Edizione Pauline, 1985.
Critical Note on the book El itinerario jurídico del Opus
Dei. Historia y defensa de un carisma, published by Rocca in
the Jornal Claretianum, vol. XXIX, 1989.
Fergal Bowers, The Work. An Investigation into the History of
Opus Dei and How It Operates in Ireland Today, Poobeg Press,
Historia oral del Opus Dei by Alberto Moncada, Editorial
Plaza y Janes, 1982
Monseñor José María Escrivá de Balaguer
y el Opus Dei en el 50 Aniversario de su Fundación,
Pedro Rodriguez, Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1985.
L’Opus Dei. Appunti e documenti per una storia, Giancarlo
Rocca, Edizione Pauline, 1985.
Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling
for Power within the Roman Catholic Church by Michael Walsh,
Harper San Francisco, 1989.
Moncada holds a doctorate in law from the University of Madrid and
studied sociology and economics in London. He was recruited by Opus
Dei in 1950 and in the 1960s participated in the creation of Opus
Dei's first Latin American University in Piura, Peru, as its founding
Pro-Rector. He left Opus Dei at that point and has taught Sociology
and Education in European and American universities since then.
He also worked as a consultant for UNESCO, OEA and the Council of
Europe. He has published some 30 books. Those dealing with religious
topics include Historia oral del Opus Dei, La Zozobra
del milenio, and Religión a la carta. Moncada's
sociological analysis of Opus Dei is widely quoted in the media
and he was asked to give his deposition in the process of beatification
is a list of Alberto Moncada's publications about Opus Dei:
Opus Dei. Una Interpretacion, Editorial Indice, 1973 (The
first book on the subject published in Spain; it was banned by the
Franco Censorship for two years.)
Hijos del Padre, Editorial Argos, 1977, an autobiographical
oral del Opus Dei, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
Catolicas. El Opus Dei, a paper presented at the XII International
Congress of Sociology, published in Revista Interncional de Sociologia,
1988 (English translation available)
Evolucion del Opus Dei en Espana, a paper presented at the
Spanish Congress of Sociology, 1995, published in Journal Minerva,
1997. The English translation is The
Evolution of Opus Dei, which is posted on the ODAN website.
Moncada has chapters on Opus Dei in three more books:
Los Espanoles and Su Fe, Editorial Penthalon, 1982
La Zozobra del Milenio, Editorial Espasa, 1995
Religion a la Carta, Editorial Espasa, 1997
has also contributed articles about Opus Dei to Journals and daily
November 16, 2003