Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling for Power Within the Roman Catholic Church

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9780060692681: Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Secret Society Struggling for Power Within the Roman Catholic Church

To its supporters Opus Dei is a spiritual organization dedicated to preserving Catholic orthodoxy in the face of modernist assault. To its detractors this highly secret society is "a church within the Church," promoting its own ecclcsiastical allegiances, preserving an antiquated set of spiritual and penitential practices (including the wearing of "instruments of mortification" like the cilice or spiked bracelet), and with some of its members supporting right-wing governments in Central and South America. Michael Walsh, an eminent Catholic scholar and former Jesuit, investigates the hidden world of Opus Dei and describes its beginnings in Spain in 1928, its association with Franco's regime, the movement of its headquarters to Rome in 1947, and its development into a worldwide organization. Drawing upon interviews and previously unavailable documents, Walsh creates an intriguing and complex portrait of the movement's charismatic founder, the enigmatic Monsignor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. Drawing a large percentage of its membership from the wealthy professional classes, Opus Dei is a relatively small organization that wields considerable power. In Spain, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Generalissimo Francisco Franco chose a number of government ministers from the ranks of Opus. Opus members do not wear any special kind of dress or badge. Even during Church occasions they are required not to present themselves as a group. A member will admit to belonging, but will not say who else belongs. "Opus is not simply a new religious body," writes Walsh. "It is a new form of institution within the Roman Catholic Church." In 1982 Pope John Paul II granted the organization the status of "personal prelature," making it unique within the Catholic Church and for all practical purposes an autonomous entity. Opus members are now eager to have Monsignor Escriva, who died in 1975, declared a saint in order to consolidate their power within the Holy See.

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