secret life of Opus Dei
Kelly says the Catholic group's support is a private matter, but it is
surrounded by a reactionary miasma
Wednesday January 26, 2005
the erstwhile Italian EU commissioner, must have some sympathy with Ruth
Kelly. Instead of getting on with the job to which Silvio Berlusconi had
advanced him, he was closely questioned by European parliamentarians about
his religious beliefs. His candidature was eventually withdrawn, and he
departed to found a new Catholic political alliance.
Now here is Ruth Kelly, eager to get stuck into her new role as secretary
of state for education, and yet all everyone wants to know, apart from
how she copes with a cabinet rank and four small children, is where
Opus Dei fits in. If indeed she is a member. No one is saying. She has
spiritual support from them, but that is a private matter, she told
David Frost on Sunday.
|Maybe, but her answer is rather disingenuous. Opus Dei comes surrounded
by a political miasma. It was founded just before the Spanish civil
war, but came fully into being in the heady Catholic days of Franco's
cruzado. Camino (The Way), the handbook that guides the spiritual
life of Opus Dei adherents, was published in its final version just
as the civil war ended. When Opus came to prominence in the late
1960s it was because Franco's cabinet contained a remarkably large
number of Opusdeistas - far too many for commentators to believe
it a coincidence. Senior members, including Opus's founder St Josemaría
Escrivá de Balaguer, Marqués de Peralta, were involved
in negotiating the handover of power to the then Prince Juan Carlos,
rather than to his father, Don Juan.
1928 is not just before 1936
A very nice lack of objetivity, what do you mean for "prominence",
if it is to have members in Franco`s government, this is not a
coincidence, but a tautology. If prominece is to be recogniced
by Church Authority (and so is for catholics and you write Mr.
Walsh is one of them), Opus Dei was recognised in 1941, and in
1947 as a new kind of organisation by the Pope... this is, another
time, long before 1960.
do you have documents about? Many document are published, where
the founder writes to don Juan as "the king", but anyway
that was his personal opinion, so if other members where "negotiating"
for Juan Carlos, its an evidence of liberty of opinion.
|Opus members were powerful operators in 1960s Spain and again,
it was alleged, during the Aznar government. The organisation's
public persona in Spain wasn't helped by the discovery that adherents
helping to fund its remarkable growth were involved in two of that
country's major financial scandals. The sinister, secretive image
was boosted in the US when an FBI agent was convicted four years
ago of spying for the Russians. He was an Opus member, and his brother-in-law
an Opus Dei priest. The lurid picture in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci
Code, of an Opus Dei "monk" wreaking mayhem around Europe on the
instructions of his religious superior, has only added to their
Can you, please, give the names? If you speak
about Matesa, the responsible person has many times explained
he had no
vinculation with Opus Dei, indeed, the policemen that discovered
the case was a member of Opus Dei
Do you suggest we are all sinister fascists or better sinister
communists? Should we conclude only that Opus Dei is a caothic
organisation that has no control over the members?
so is lurid because is not enough? Did you realy mean there is
something real on the Code, and you call Mr. Walsh a "Catholic"
and a "Scholar"? No comment.
If a member, Ruth Kelly would have been a typical
recruit, the sort of person targeted by the organisation as a potentially
influential member of society. They tend to recruit from the middle
class, give adherents a traditional theological education, and subject
them to an old-fashioned spiritual training - including wearing spike
bracelets, and beating oneself with a cat o'nine-tails. Given this
conservative background, it is scarcely surprising that many Opusdeistas
turn out to be supporters of rightwing regimes. Kelly, on the left
of centre, is therefore something of an exception.
|Their moral views, however, are more of a piece, and
highly unlikely to deviate from those espoused by the Vatican. And
these, as Buttiglione and US presidential contender John Kerry both
found, can be something of a handicap in public life, especially
when the Vatican tells politicians to toe the Catholic line on matters
such as abortion. From the status of women to the teaching on stem-cell
research to the recognition of same-sex unions, Pope John Paul II
has resolutely followed a path at odds with the modern world. Catholic
parliamentarians have too often to struggle between their faith
and the convictions of the vast majority of their constituents.
As Aidan O'Neill QC put it in a recent debate at Lincoln's Inn presided
over by Cherie Booth, should they attempt to enact a form of Catholic
||And you said, Mr. Walsh is "Catholic"?
|Many Catholics would say no, but Opus members are fiercely loyal
to the present Pope.
||this is maybe the only correct line in the article. What should
make, otherwise Mr. Walsh, a catholic?
He has not only canonised their founder, but has also given them a
new juridical structure which, they believe, fits their particular way
For Opus is one of a kind. Within Roman Catholicism it has a unique
status as a "personal prelature", a kind of diocese without geographical
boundaries, with which all its members are associated, but to which
its full-time members belong. They are priests and lay people. That
makes it different from traditional religious orders which are usually
one or the other. Opus embraces all classes of society, married and
single, priests and lay people, men and women - though in the last case,
never the twain shall meet.
|The recently constructed US HQ in New York has separate
entrances for men and women. There are even, according to the authors
of The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code, gender-specific parking
||Wow, this is a revelation! If you mean, because there
are men and women living, so is in all Opus Dei houses, not just
in New York. When you mean, "only men entrance" and "only
women", as maybe Mr. Walsh "hopes" the readers will
understand, no matter, just probe to enter on the "only women",
no fear, you will be not smashed by a lightning.
In this country, Opus's HQ is in Bayswater, west London. Its members
run university halls of residence and youth clubs - fertile territory
for new recruits. In the US and elsewhere there are Opus Dei schools,
hot on traditional values. But not yet in Britain. In a variant of the
postcode lottery, devout British parents have been known to relocate
to Ireland where such colleges may be found. The education secretary
says she wants more independent state schools, strong on discipline.
Her spiritual advisers may have suggestions.
· Michael Walsh is a Catholic scholar and the author of
(My last comments: So if you just wish to attack Ms. Kelly send her
a bomb-letter but let the people a moment´s peace. If some people
wish to make more comments to Mr. Walsh, the address is up there. Santiago