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Leaderof Opus Dei dies at 84

“Bishop JavierEchevarría Rodríguez, the Prelate of OpusDei, died Monday evening at the age of 84 in Rome, several days after beinghospitalized with pneumonia. According to a Dec. 12 statement from the personalprelature, Bishop Echevarría was given the final sacraments this afternoon byhis auxiliary, Msgr. Fernando Ocariz.‘Bishop Echevarría was receiving an antibiotic to fight a lung infection,’ thestatement added. ‘The clinical situation was complicated in the final hours,provoking respiratory insufficiency, which resulted in his death.’ … Opus Deistated that the prelature’s ordinary government now falls to Msgr. Ocariz. Heis to convoke a congress of the community within three months to nominate asuccessor to Bishop Echevarría, who must be confirmed by the Pope.” (Catholic News Agency, 12/12/16) [IT 8.2]

Two politicians with connections to Opus Dei may have run for seats in Canada’s parliament this past fall in order to help change the country’s laws governing same-sex marriage and abortion, according to Raymond Gravel, a Catholic priest and outgoing Bloc Québecois member for Répentigny. He did not think that the effort to change the laws stemmed from higher levels of the Catholic Church. [csr 8.1, 2009)

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has expressed the hope that Opus Dei, which recently opened a headquarters in the city, will not proselytize among Orthodox Christians. [csr 7.1 2008)

The current generation of wealthy Prosperity Preachers, including Benney Hinn, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and Joyce Lewis, appear to be doing well in collections from parishioners even in these difficult economic times. The prosperity pastors generally teach that getting rich and living well are God’s rewards for fidelity and prayer. As the Revered Ike, of Atlanta, says, citing St. John, 10:10: ”I am come that you might have life more abundantly.” [csr 8.1, 2009)

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has expressed the hope that Opus Dei, which recently opened a headquarters in the city, will not proselytize among Orthodox Christians. [csr 7.1 2008)

Opus Dei has accused the BBC of defamation in the broadcaster’s portrayal of the society’s members as, according to the Opus Dei complaint, “murderers, thieves and adulterers” in an award-winning fictional drama that apparently mirrors concepts found in The Da Vinci Code. [csr 6.1 2007]

Opus Dei in Britain and the U.S. is responding to the negative picture of the organization painted by “The Da Vinci Code” with a public relations approach that calmly maintains it is a benign organization of members dedicated to finding God in their daily work and not a conspiracy to gain power in the world, as the book and film suggest. Film producer Sony refused to put a disclaimer in the film that the Code’s account of the life of Jesus was fictional. Nonetheless, Opus Dei has not called for boycotts and continues calmly to present what it considers to be the truth about Christ while openly detailing and demystifying the nature and practices of the Roman Catholic organization. The strategy has worked at least to the extent that a number of new American members say they first heard about Opus Dei through The Da Vinci Code.[csr 5.2 2006]

Opus Dei, the subject of Dan Brown’s best-selling “The Da Vinci Code,” is promoting an Opus Dei priest’s blog that counters the book’s view of the group. Opus Dei calls the book “a gross distortion and a grave injustice.” [csr 5.1 2006]

“Balanced Assessment” of Group
A forthcoming book on Opus Dei by the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen will challenge the view that the organization is cult-like and suggest that much of the negative perception stems from hostility shown by the Jesuits during the 1930s and 1940s, when the rise of Opus Dei allegedly drew Spanish recruits away from the older, more established religious order. (Catholic News, Internet, 3/30/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Government Minister Should Quit
Former MP Tom Sackville, now chair of the Family Action and Information Resource [FAIR], a support group that helps families with cult involvements, has called upon the new Education secretary, Ruth Kelly, to resign because she has attended meetings of the Catholic organization Opus Dei.[csr 4.1 2005]

Sackville says “Opus Dei brainwashes, isolates and dominates the lives of its members to the point of removing their self-determination. That our children and young people, who urgently need protection from recruiters of such organizations, should be faced with one of their number in charge of the education system, is the last straw.” (Yahoo News-England & Ireland, Internet, 1/21/05) [csr 4.1 2005]

Life in Opus Dei
Former Opus Dei member John Roche, detailing his many years’ experience in the organization, says that “the ethos of its higher levels is deeply secretive, often dishonest, oppressive and psychologically damaging to its members and families.” (John Roche, The Mail on Sunday [UK], Internet, 1/23/05)[csr 4.1 2005]

Opus Dei Gains Prestige / Italy
Indicating the growing power and prestige within the Catholic Church of the Opus Dei organization was the turnout at a congress in Rome in January to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the group’s founder, Josemaria Escriva. Pope John Paul II was among 1200 participants, and the Italian government unveiled a postage stamp in Escriva’s honor.[csr 1.1 2002]

Critics accuse Opus Dei of being a fundamentalist sect with a conservative political agenda intent on promoting a rigid form of Catholicism. But the most pointed attacks have come from several former members who allege that Opus Dei is a cult that brainwashes its members and conducts its affairs in secret. In 1981, allegations of this kind led the then head of the Catholic church in England, Cardinal Basil Hume, to forbid the group from recruiting members under the age of 18, and in 1986, to the Italian parliament demanding a government inquiry into the group’s operations. (The inquiry exonerated Opus Dei of any illegal conduct.) In recent years, on the other hand, some people involved in Opus Dei have said that the experience has enriched their spiritual lives. (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, 1/22/02, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]

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