and Other Writings
Guidelines for Opus
Dei within the Diocese of Westminster
Promulgated by Cardinal Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, United
December 2, 1981
For a considerable time I have studied carefully certain public
criticisms made about the activities of Opus Dei in Britain and I
have also examined the correspondence addressed to me on the same
subject. Some of these letters have been critical; some have
expressed sincere admiration for the personal qualities of members
of Opus Dei and appreciation of their influence. I have also had
meetings with those responsible for Opus Dei in this country.
Opus Dei is a movement of priests and lay people within the
Church which has the official approval of the Holy See. However, in
so far as it is established within the diocese of Westminster, I
have a responsibility, as bishop, to ensure the welfare of the whole
local Church as well as the best interest of Opus Dei itself.
As a result of this study I have made known to those responsible
for Opus Dei in this country what I consider to be the right
recommendations for the future activity of its members within the
diocese of Westminster. I now wish to make public these four
recommendations. Each of them arises from one fundamental principle:
that the procedures and activities of an international movement,
present in a particular diocese, may well have to be modified
prudently in the light of the cultural differences and legitimate
local customs and standards of the society within which that
international body seeks to work.
These recommendations must not be seen as a criticism of the
integrity of the members of Opus Dei or of their zeal in promoting
their apostolate. I am making them public in order to meet
understandable anxieties and to encourage sound practice within the
The four recommendations are as follows:
- No person under eighteen years of age
should be allowed to take any vow or long-term commitment in
association with Opus Dei.
- It is essential that young people who wish
to join Opus Dei should first discuss the matter with their
parents or legal guardians. If there are, by exception, good
reasons for not approaching their families, these reasons
should, in every case, be discussed with the local bishop or his
- While it is accepted that those who join
Opus Dei take on the proper duties and responsibilities of
membership, care must be taken to respect the freedom of the
individual; first, the freedom of the individual to join or to
leave the organization without undue pressure being exerted;
secondly, the freedom of the individual at any stage to choose
his or her own spiritual director, whether or not the director
is a member of Opus Dei.
- Initiative and activities of Opus Dei,
within the diocese of Westminster, should carry a clear
indication of their sponsorship and management.
I am confident that these four guidelines will
in no way hinder Opus Dei in the apostolic work to which it has
committed itself, but will help it to adapt to the traditional
spirituality and instincts of our people.
I will naturally remain in close touch with
priests and members of Opus Dei within the diocese of Westminster.
Posted May 22, 2006