and Other Writings
and Cronica -- Opus Dei's Secret Magazines
ODAN newsletter, vol. 10, no. 4, 2000
Dei circulates magazines available only to its members: Cronica
for the male members of Opus Dei, and Noticias for the female
members. Normally, these magazines are kept under lock and key in
Opus Dei centers to prevent "outsiders" from reading them.
Noticias and Cronica contain articles about different
aspects of "the spirit of Opus Dei" (and how to live this
spirit more intensely,) updates on proselytism taking place around
the world by Opus Dei members, current activities of the prelate
(current head) of Opus Dei, and features on the history of Opus
Dei and its Founder, Josemaria Escriva. Each issue contains an editorial
at the beginning, normally about a spiritual topic lived in light
of "the spirit of Opus Dei."
The editorials are widely used by Opus Dei members for spiritual
reading and meditation. Both Noticias and Cronica
share the same editorial. However, Noticias concerns itself
only with the proselytism initiated by Opus Dei women; Cronica
focuses on the proselytism undertaken by the male members of Opus
Dei. This is but one example of the strict segregation of the sexes
within Opus Dei. For Opus Dei members to even talk about members
of the opposite sex often brings about deep embarrassment, and is
generally discouraged by Opus Dei leaders.
Noticias, the Spanish word for "the news," is written
in Spanish. Articles which are deemed particularly important are
translated separately into English for the benefit of those who
do not know Spanish. The magazine features a picture of a different
women's Opus Dei center from around the world on the cover each
month, and there are many pictures throughout the magazine.
However, the articles do not have bylines, and photo captions do
not mention the last names of those pictured. This serves several
purposes. Individuals in Opus Dei are devalued for the collective
glorification of Opus Dei; the Founder continually emphasized that
members should "pass unnoticed." This allows for the superiority
of "doctrine over person," one of eight characteristics
of a totalistic group outlined by Robert J. Lifton in Chapter 22
of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.  The
individual member must always give in to the rules of the group,
since the group itself is perfect and ordained by God. Members adopt
the attitude that the collective good of the group takes precedence
over the individual. (See excerpts from Cronica
regarding the doctrine over person.)
Former numerary member John Roche agrees, writing "Opus Dei
has a grotesquely inflated opinion of itself, calling itself 'everlasting,'
the 'predilect of God,' the 'Mystical Body,' referring to 'the beauty
of the Work of God. . .which is more luminous than 'the dawn, fair
as the Moon, bright as the Sun, terrible as an army with banners.'"
 Problems within Opus Dei are attributed to the error of individuals,
never to a problem within the organization itself.
The use of only first names also allows Opus Dei to more easily
"change its history." Maria del Carmen Tapia writes that
she observed Opus Dei members covering over or changing certain
parts of the Noticias, particularly when members pictured
and written about were no longer members of Opus Dei. The "corrected"
pages were sent to all directors who were instructed to destroy
the old pages and insert the new ones without any question .
The former members' existence within Opus Dei was effectively erased.
Noticias and Cronica achieve several goals within
Opus Dei. The secretive nature of the magazine and its availability
only to Opus Dei members augment the feeling of superiority within
Opus Dei, consistent with one of Lifton's eight characteristics
of totalistic groups, "the sacred science."  The "sacred
science" allows a group to believe itself as "the ultimate
moral vision for the ordering of human existence."  Total
belief and loyalty to this vision is demanded of the members, who
may not question its sacredness or its validity; reverence of the
message and those who originated it are demanded. The magazines
also serve as a unifying force within Opus Dei, emphasizing Opus
Dei as a "worldwide family," thus strengthening the loyalty
and feelings of belonging of the Opus Dei members.
Overall, Opus Dei's internal magazines serve as a unifying force
within Opus Dei, contributing to the attitude of its members that
Opus Dei is the exclusive purveyor of moral correctness and orthodoxy.
 Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Robert
J. Lifton, University of North Carolina Press, 1989, pp. 427, 430
 The Inner World of Opus Dei, Dr. John J. Roche, Linacre
College, Oxford, June 15, 1982, p.4
 Beyond the Threshold: A Life in Opus Dei, Maria del Carmen
Tapia, Continuum Publishing Company, 1998, p. 168
 Personal experiences and observations of former Opus Dei numeraries.
from Cronica, Opus Dei's Secret, Internal Magazine
newsletter, vol. 10, no. 4, 2000
following excerpts come mainly from the writings of Opus Dei's Founder,
Escriva, and other Opus Dei members writing for Cronica and Noticias,
Opus Dei's internal magazines.  The titles for each section describe
characteristics commonly employed by sects to recruit, motivate
and maintain the obedience of members.
Messianic Zeal, Love-bombing
quotes illustrate the drive for new members which is the primary
goal in Opus Dei, and the techniques employed to get those new members.
Love-bombing is a term used to describe the extravagant attention
placed on new recruits to win them over to Opus Dei and exact a
commitment from them.
"We do not have any other aim than the corporate one: proselytism,
winning vocations." (Cronica, v, 1963)
"When a person does not have zeal to win others...he is dead...I
bury cadavers." (Cronica, v, 1963)
"There is not a single man on earth, a single soul to whom
God has not sent us...our inheritance is the whole world...all the
seas belong to us." (Cronica, iv, 1964)
"We have to spread out like a fan...we must open up like a
hand and have a group of souls...dangling from each finger...and
pull...souls are like cherries, you pull one and you get two."
(Cronica, iv 1971)
"This holy coercion is necessary, compelle intrare the Lord
tells us." (Cronica, iv, 1971) (Editor's note: "compelle
intrare is Latin for "compel them to enter" from the gospel
story in Luke 14:23)
"In our souls was born a devastating uncontainable eagerness
to spread God's fire, like a fire that has to burn the forest, like
a flame that ignites the mountains." (Cronica, v, 1963)
Deception illustrates the belief in Opus Dei that deceiving new
recruits and the public about Opus Dei's real intentions is acceptable
because the end result is "pleasing to God."
Dei states publicly that its clubs, hostels, etc. are a "disinterested
service of humanity" [Conversations with Mgr. Escriva de Balaguer,
Dublin 1968, 47] and "a response to...the need to provide suitable
accommodation and environment for students..." But privately,
in Cronica, v, 1963, the Founder stated: "university
residences, universities, publishing houses...are these ends? No,
and what is the end?...to promote in the world the greatest possible
number of souls dedicated to God in Opus Dei..."
recruiting youngsters the Founder advised: "In this period
of transition be prudent in imposing and even in manifesting the
obligations which our people have." (Cronica, ii, 1963)
Doctrine Over Person
Over Person was first described by Robert J. Lifton as "the
subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine...the
demand that character and identity be reshaped, not in accordance
with one's special nature or potentialities, but rather to fit the
rigid contours of the doctrinal mold." 
demand for absolute obedience results in members who are at war
with their own sense of identity; despite this struggle, the members'
own desire to "do the will of God" as outlined by Opus
Dei essentially turns them into puppets of Opus Dei and shadows
of their former selves. It is of cardinal importance to note that
in Opus Dei suppression of the ego is not directed to Christ or
to the Church but to Opus Dei.
devise personal plans, to be at the center of our thought, to consider
oneself as something distinct and untouchable...that would be a
crime, a depravity." (Cronica, vi, 1955)
meaning of our very person will become clear upon comparing it to
the total reality of Opus Dei...[we give] superiors complete freedom
to dispose of us in the manner most suitable for the Work."
(Cronica, xii, 1950)
ego has died and our only concern is the collective ideal of uniting
our efforts towards the same end." (Cronica, xi, 1954)
like clay in the hands of the potter...it is so contrary to our
spirit to want to guide ourselves by our own judgement." (Cronica,
it comes right down to it, the whole is what is efficacious...we
know how to measure our effectiveness by the degree of its integration
in the whole." (Cronica, viii, 1957)
sleep and forget that you exist." (Cronica, vii, 1966)
"...blind obedience to your superiors, the way of sanctity."
(Cronica, viii, 1963)
"...If [my sons] have given in [to their directors] to what
in their consciences seems an error and they offer it generously
to our Lord, he will...bring good out of the error...it will strengthen
our personality." (Cronica, xii, 1966)
"Our life is no longer ours, it no longer belongs to me, it
belongs to the Work." (Cronica, i, 1955)
*Note that many of these quotes from the Founder talk as though
everyone in Opus Dei is "one." It is not logical to say
OUR life, because the use of the word "our" should be
followed by a plural noun, "lives" instead of "life."
The following phrases from the above quote illustrate this incoherence:
"OUR thought," "OUR very person," "OUR
ego." This further demonstrates the supremacy of Opus Dei over
the individual member.
Group Superiority and the Sacred Science
Robert J. Lifton describes the Sacred Science as the maintaining
of "an aura of sacredness around [the group's] basic dogma,
holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human
existence...[prohibiting] the questioning of basic assumptions...[while
making] an exaggerated claim of airtight logic, of absolute "scientific
precision."3 Thus Opus Dei members hold onto a militant belief
that Opus Dei is entirely perfect; the result is a "group superiority"
that is capable of offering "much comfort and security"
 to the individual member.
"...The Divine beauty of the Work of God, which is 'fairer
than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars, compared
to light she takes precedence (Wisdom, 7)'" (Cronica,
"Provided people not in contact with the spirit of the Work
live its spirit, they will be saved." (Cronica, iii,
"Only one thing is necessary: that Opus Dei be accomplished
on Earth..." (Cronica, xii, 1950)
"The divine paths of the Earth have been opened, our Work is
so beautiful that it satisfies all souls." (Cronica,
The "Glorification" of the Founder,
A characteristic of most totalistic groups is a strong focus on
the leader or Founder, who is typically a charismatic, strong personality.
Note the emphasis in these quotes on the Founder, not Jesus or God
the Father; the comparisons of Escriva with Jesus Christ; and the
scriptural references typically reserved to describe Jesus being
attributed to Escriva.
"...as Jesus received his doctrine from the Father, so my doctrine
is not mine but comes from God and so not a jot or title shall ever
be changed." (Cronica)
"The best sign of our filiation to the Father [Escriva, not
God!] will be our dedication, our fidelity to our spirit...we know
that there we vibrate with the Father's heart and are united to
his intentions when we are very faithful to the spirit of the Work.
"What you have learned and heard and seen in me these things
practice. And the God of peace will be with you.'" (Cronica,
"God's grace prepared the priestly soul of our Father, making
it to the measure of Christ's heart, that is open to the multitude
that our Lord wanted to call to his Work with the passing of time,
and even to all humanity." (Cronica, i, 1971)
"...As we think of the Father...we will remember that man whom
Scripture praises because 'when tested he was found loyal.' For
this reason, God promised him with an oath that in his descendents
that nations would be blessed, that he would make them numerous
as the grains of dust...'(Ecclesiasticus 50:24)" (Cronica,
"our Father [Escriva} is the good shepherd who leads the flock
of the whole Work." (Cronica, i, 1971)
"I [Escriva] will pass away, and those who come afterwards
will look at you with an envy as if you were a relic." (Cronica,
"My children I try...to throw out...gold coins, the gold of
God...if you don't pick them up, you are doing wrong, and God our
Lord will ask a very strict accounting from you." (Cronica,
Internal Coercion and Thought Reform
These concepts describe the manner in which Opus Dei is able to
keep its members obedient and loyal. Members are given clear direction
in an indirect way to do exactly as they are told by their directors;
to do otherwise would be "impure" and against the will
of God. The control of the environment in which Opus Dei members
live (particularly the numerary, celibate members) is important
in maintaining Opus Dei's standards of strict obedience; other members
play an important role in regulating Opus Dei's rules, for they
are commanded to correct any member who is not in line with those
"You will go to your brothers the priests as I go [for confession.]
If we were to go to a person who could only cure our wound superficially...it
would be because we are cowards...and doing this wrong, seeking
a second-hand doctor who cannot give us more than a few seconds
of his time...would also harm the Work...You wouldn't sin because
of this, but woe to you!...You would have begun to hear the voice
of the bad shepherd...the good shepherd...makes all the sacrifices.
And you ought to be ready to make them too. And the first is this:
not to exercise that right...not to go outside the Work to wash
the dirty clothes...if not, you are not needed here." ('La
Confesion,' Cronica, vi, 1962)
"...If our Lord wanted to force strangers to come to his banquet,
how much more will he want you to use a holy coercion with those
who are your brothers...this most beautiful coercion of charity
far from taking away your brother's freedom, will delicately help
him to use it well." (Cronica, vi, 1969)
"What will you do when you see that one of your brothers is
getting soft...well take hold of him and help him...Why do we have
fraternal correction...the personal chat...confession...and if they
avoid it, watch out!" (Cronica, ii, 1972)
"If one of my [Escriva's] children abandons the fight, or leaves
the war, or turns his back, let him know that he betrays us all,
Jesus Christ, the Church, his brothers and sisters in the Work...it
would be treason to consent to the tiniest act of unfaithfulness...in
these moments." (Cronica, ii, 1972)
The Inner World of Opus Dei: Evidence from internal documents
of Opus Dei and testimony, Dr. John J. Roche, Linacre College,
Oxford, June 15, 1982. Note: Dr. Roche, a former numerary member
of Opus Dei who resigned in November 1973 after becoming increasingly
alarmed by Opus Dei's practices, secretly copied about 140 editorials
from Cronica before leaving.
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Robert J. Lifton,
University of North Carolina Press, 1989, pp. 430-431
Lifton, pp. 427-428
May 13, 2002