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Testimonies and Other Writings

The following is the work of the individual author and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc.

Catholic Sects: Opus Dei
(English 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 as "Sectas Catolicas: El Opus Dei."

by Alberto Moncada

1. 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 of movement.

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 of "sect".

Research into Christian sources of contemporary sectarianism has produced some European literature like Massimo Introvigne's recent Le sette cristiane [1], 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 denominational "marketing".

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? [2]. 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) [3]. 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 [4] and Pepe Rodríguez, El poder de las sectas, Ediciones B. Zeta, 1989 [5]) 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 [6].

3. 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) [7] 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 [8]).

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 politicians.

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 in danger.

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 neo-conservatism.

4. 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.

5. 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 [9] .

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 families!”

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 members.

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 [10]. 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 serious.
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 Dei testaments.
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 [11]. 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 and clientele.

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 [12]. 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 emission.

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.

Spiritual 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.

Naturally, 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 corporative masochism.

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. [13]

From 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 obsessions.

6. 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 [14] 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 [15].

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 woman.

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 civil society."

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 [16]. 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 "Father." [17]

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 [18]. 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.

7. 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 approval.

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 [19]. They apparently intend to respond to a book by Giancarlo Rocca, L’Opus Dei. Appunti e documenti per una storia [20]. 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 [21].

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 their extremism.

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 pursuit.

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 leave."

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 [22]. 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.

APPENDIX: 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 [23].

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 him.

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 belong.

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 sources.

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 sources.

To label these sources as acting in bad faith, out of resentment, or traitors is another quality which Opus Dei shares with other sects.

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 Catholicism

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 [24]. For more complete and less propagandistic information see the bibliography of Giancarlo Rocca’s book [25] or that of Michael Walsh, The Secret World of Opus Dei [26].

Sources:

[1] Massimo Introvigne, Le sette cristiane, Mondadori, 1989.
[2] Carol Coulter, Are Religious Cults Dangerous? Dublin & Cork: The Mercier Press, 1984.
[3] Paul Andre Turcotte, C.S.V., L'Eglise, la secte, la mystique et l'ordre religieux in Eglise et Theologie, 20, 1989.
[4] Las Sectas: Un testimonio vivo sobre los Mesías del Terror en España, Pilar Salarrullana, Temas de hoy, 1990.
[5] El poder de las sectas, Pepe Rodríguez, Ediciones B. Zeta, 1989
[6] Historia oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
[7] The Way by Josemaria Escriva, Scepter Publications
[8] 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."
[9] Historia oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
[10] The Way #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.
[11] Historia oral del Opus Dei, Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
[12] Ibid
[13] The True Believer, Eric Hoffer, Harper and Row, 1951
[14] Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan, Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1998
[15] Historia oral del Opus Dei by Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
[16] Ibid
[17] Le sette cristiane, Massimo Introvigne, Mondadori, 1989.
[18] Proceedings of the Barcelona Congress, published by Asociación Pro Juventud
[19] Fuenmayor, Amadeo de; Gómez-Iglesias, Valentín; Illanes, José Luis: El itinerario jurídico del Opus Dei. Historia y defensa de un carisma, 1990.
[20] Giancarlo Rocca, L’Opus Dei. Appunti e documenti per una storia, Edizione Pauline, 1985.
[21] 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.
[22] Fergal Bowers, The Work. An Investigation into the History of Opus Dei and How It Operates in Ireland Today, Poobeg Press, 1989.
[23] Historia oral del Opus Dei by Alberto Moncada, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
[24] Monseñor José María Escrivá de Balaguer y el Opus Dei en el 50 Aniversario de su Fundación, Pedro Rodriguez, Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1985.
[25] L’Opus Dei. Appunti e documenti per una storia, Giancarlo Rocca, Edizione Pauline, 1985.
[26] Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling for Power within the Roman Catholic Church by Michael Walsh, Harper San Francisco, 1989.


Alberto 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 of Escriva.

Below is a list of Alberto Moncada's publications about Opus Dei:

El 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.)
Los Hijos del Padre, Editorial Argos, 1977, an autobiographical novel.
Historia oral del Opus Dei, Editorial Plaza y Janes, 1982
Sectas Catolicas. El Opus Dei, a paper presented at the XII International Congress of Sociology, published in Revista Interncional de Sociologia, 1988 (English translation available)
La 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.

Alberto 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

He has also contributed articles about Opus Dei to Journals and daily newspapers.

Posted: November 16, 2003