ODAN Letter to Pope to protest Josemaria Escriva canonization. Facts and Irregularities of Escriva's canonization
This letter was written by an ODAN supporter before the canonization of the Founder of Opus Dei, Escrivá, which took place on October 6, 2002.
Letter to the Pope
A LETTER TO HIS HOLINESS, JOHN PAUL II, FROM FORMER MEMBERS OF OPUS DEI, THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED BY OPUS DEI AND OTHER CONCERNED INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE DEEPLY APPREHENSIVE ABOUT THE IMMINENT CANONIZATION OF MONSIGNOR JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA
We ask you to open your heart and mind to us, and to believe that we are deeply in earnest, for we are aware that in asking you for a hearing on the grave matter of Opus Dei and the canonization of its founder, Monsignor Josemaria Escriva, we speak as witnesses before Truth itself-Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Just One, who searches the reins and hearts and from whom nothing is hidden. We pray, of course, that Monsignor Escriva is at peace with God, but worry that canonization will promote him, as well as Opus Dei, as a model for holiness. We appeal to you now, at this late hour, because all earlier efforts have been ignored, and because the peril is profound. We believe that the truth we speak should be heard and acted on for the sake of the Gospel, the consciences of the faithful, the honor of the Church, and the future authority of the Papacy.
Because we believe that this truth has in large part been kept from you, we set forth our testimony now to warn you about the danger to the faith posed by unjustified reverence for the man you plan soon to canonize and by the highly questionable organization he created in his own image and spirit. We speak not only from deep and wounding personal experience but on behalf of other people from a great many nations who have been deceived, mistreated, and dehumanized as members of Opus Dei. Many of them, by the grace of God, have found it possible to leave in good conscience, but many others continue to suffer grievously within Opus Dei.
These members of an organization calling itself holy live and work not in the joyful spirit St. Paul calls "the glorious liberty of the children of God," but in a mind-controlled parody of Christianity and in the shadow of an idol whom they call "the Father" and "our Father." We are well aware of your regard for him, and know how shocking and implausible these charges must seem to anyone unacquainted with the darker side of Monsignor Escriva and Opus Dei. But we also know these charges are true. We therefore pray that that truth you praised so memorably in Veritatis Splendor will speak through you even at this late hour and prevent this terrible and unthinkable travesty from taking place.
In that celebrated encyclical, you wrote, "man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it toward idols." That is especially true, your Holiness, when the idol wears a monsignor's purple, makes benevolent public pronouncements, and presents himself as a champion of Catholic orthodoxy--even as he alienates children from their parents, even as he seeks prestige and honors, even as he fosters a cult of personality and promotes his own canonization.
No doubt, your Holiness, you have both witnessed and been told about a very different Opus Dei. You have seen its other side-its zeal and efficiency, its apparent financial generosity, its help in combating communism in Poland and its contribution to countering pro-abortion propaganda in the developing nations. Yet such efforts only bring to mind the efforts of another Catholic organization, the Sillon, which a century ago won high praise before earning a firm and lasting rebuke from the great Pius X. With Opus Dei, as with the Sillon, the rod of correction is sorely needed. None of the good that individual members, or the organization, may have done or may now be doing can begin to compensate for the terrible harm it has done by dividing families, by turning many parents of members away from the Church, by its tireless and unscrupulous campaign to gain power and wealth, by the moral damage it does to its members through its culture of secrecy and dishonesty, and by the psychological damage it inflicts through depersonalization and emotional deprivation. As Monsignor Escriva advised Opus Dei members, "…eat, sleep and forget that you exist."
Meanwhile, all of this goes on even as Opus Dei claims to be, in the words of Monsignor Escriva, "the predilect of God," an organization benevolently intended for "men and women of all races who endeavor to love and serve God in and through their daily work." This is not the splendor of truth, this is the rhetoric of an organization that goes to extraordinary lengths to suppress any criticism, that cultivates in its members a dangerously intense loyalty to itself and to its founder, that behind its facade of orthodoxy is slowly insinuating itself into the highest levels of Church government, and that it represents a grave future danger to the integrity and unity of the Catholic Church.
We stand against this organization because we are faithful Catholics who refuse to call evil good or good evil. Just as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of a cloud of heavenly witnesses watching over the children of faith, so do we, your supplicants, speak on behalf of a cloud of earthly witnesses. They include priests and professors, doctors and lawyers, cooks and maids. They include people who knew Monsignor Escriva intimately and who can witness to his arrogance and malevolent temper, his unseemly quest for a title (Marquis of Peralta), his dishonesty, his indifference to the poor, his love of luxury and ostentation, his lack of compassion, and his idolatrous devotion to Opus Dei.
Regrettably, your Holiness, you have not yet heard these witnesses. Neither has any ecclesiastic body in Rome, including the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, which is charged with separating truth from error in the vital matter of deciding who shall be pronounced worthy to be called a heavenly intercessor. Quite simply, these witnesses have not been heard from because Opus Dei and its sympathizers have prevented it. The office of Promoter of the Faith (or Devil's Advocate) has been eliminated, with the result that, just when there is the greatest need for it, there is no one to say, "Let us now hear from those witnesses who think Monsignor Escriva should not be raised to the altars." And so now, as the days race toward the sixth of October and grave scandal to the Church, it remains for you, Holy Father, to be that Promoter of the Faith and to hear the faithful voices speaking out of that cloud of witnesses.
Having no fear of the truth, having no need to hide it or keep it secret in the manner of Opus Dei, we urge you to invite not only witnesses from our ranks to testify in your presence, but representatives from Opus Dei as well. Then let us see who will dare to swear falsely. It will not be any of those who have signed this letter, your Holiness, for we know that in the perfect will of God the truth we speak cannot ultimately be defeated, no matter how clever the opposition's lies, how artful the masquerade, or how long and persistently the deception has been carried forward.
As you well know, the Church is even now living through a nightmarish scandal because of the involvement of renegade bishops and priests in crimes against nature and crimes against children. But horrifying though it is, that scourge will pass. The canonization of Monsignor Escriva, on the other hand, will never pass. It will offend God. It will tarnish the Church forever. It will rob the saints of their holy distinction. It will call into question the credibility of all canonizations during your Pontificate. It will undermine the future authority of the Papacy.
The Church is being drawn to the edge of a precipice and is as near to it as the calendar is near to October 6. We therefore implore you, Holy Father, as your sheep and God's servants, to draw back, to seek out the testimony that has been kept from you, to reaffirm the mark of the Church as the pillar and ground of truth, and to trust that heaven will make a way out of this terrible difficulty even as it helps you restore the splendor of truth in the beauty of holiness.
In hope and fidelity, we await your answer.
Comments received on the Letter to the Pope regarding the canonization of Escrivá
"I doubt that the Pope receives this letter or any kind of this information. Somehow in Europe or in Rome now people should organize some kind of manifestation to be seen on TV. In a newspaper from Sao Paulo a reporter interviewing a polish theologian asked if it was true that the Pope was pressed by Opus Dei members. He answered that a fragile Pope was of interest by a religious group that wanted to govern the church more than the pope. No news for me because I felt this a long time ago. I agree with the letter because my family and I experienced all the sorrows that OD can cause to a family." -- Brazil
"I am concerned about the harm that the canonization of Josemaria Escriva will do to the reputation of the whole process of beatification and canonization." -- Dr. John Roche, Linacre College, Oxford
"Having had a genuine Ignatian formation, I have always considered Opus Dei to be a cheap imitation of the Society of Jesus, with its founder suffering from a Jesuit complex. Alas with the Society in decline, impostors have arisen to take their position. Whereas one school of spirituality plants the seed and allows the plant to grow naturally under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit with minimal human direction the other hothouses its raw material in a controlled environment so that everything coming off the production line looks alike and talks alike. We are living in an era of diabolical disorientation with Holy Mother Church appearing to endorse the spiritual cloning of its sons and daughters in a cult-like organization by canonizing its founder. Well we'll soon have a saint, a patron saint perhaps of quality control in an age of mass production. Immaculate Heart of Mary, our hope and our refuge pray for us." -- Canada
"This is a crime that is the greatest travesty in the history of the Church. Please stop the canonization of Monsignor Escriva." -- United States of America
"Please re-open the position of Devil's Advocate. This wonderful office ensures a thorough examination even during the tumult of well-meaning devotion." -- United States of America
"Please look at the irregularities surrounding this controversial canonization." -- Dianne DiNicola, Executive Director of ODAN, United States of America
"The pernicious effect on those Catholics both who are in favor of this canonization and against this canonization will be the same. Their faith will be placed in jeopardy. The Catholic Church -- indefectible -- will not and cannot be assailed by this perversion, but the faith of so many -- the very salvation of so many -- is bound to be lost. May Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary help us persevere in the true faith in the aftermath of this crisis." -- United States of America
"We find the canonization proceedings to be outrageously rigged, dishonest. That can only be the work of Satan as dishonesty cannot be of God." -- Mr. and Mrs. Kramer, United States of America
"How can we allow such money changers in the temple when our veterans have no place to lay their head?" -- Former VA Chaplain and War Widow
"Please read this letter very carefully. It is very serious not to listen to what is said here." -- France
"It's not possible that a real saint would build his own marble magnificent mausoleum as did Mgr. Escriva." -- Eric Jacqmin, Poland
"If Escriva is canonized, the many Sedevacantis factions will be using this canonization to prove their position because canonizations are infallible." -- United States of America
"Popes have been known to change their minds at the last minute down through the ages. The one that spings to mind is the Pope Vigilius. He was elected by political alignment and intrigue AND the mysterious deaths of his two pedecessors popes Agapetus and Silverius. He was allied with the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora who wished to promote the monophysite heresy in Constaninople. Once he was elected pope however, could not commit the heretical act of reinstating the known heretical bishop Anthimius. Grace caused him to repent and refuse to do the will of his promoters. Maybe we ought to invoke Vigilius, St.Peter and all those who have held his chair. Perhaps Fr. Escriva should be made patron of sycophantism, prestige aquisition and dissimulation via the mass media." -- United States of America
"Let's get back to the values of Vatican II. Opus Dei is an evil organization which -- if we allow it -- will destroy the church." -- Mona Millan, Canada
"My son's association with Opus Dei as a numerary -- fortunately short-lived -- caused my wife, now passed away, and myself much anguish. We found it incredible that we who had brought up our son so that he was acceptable to OD should suffer as we did and be ignored by OD. The most abhorent factor was un-informed consent -- he had no idea what he was getting into. Fortunately he did not break off all communication with us, saw the light, and is now happily married and has a son. Unfortunately my dear wife did not live to see her grandson." -- Canada
"I am deeply concerned by the attitude of the Opus Dei to deny that psychological and social harm can be caused by mind control methods used by groups commonly known as cults. Opus Dei and their sympathizers follow a theory of the Italian lawyer Massimo Introvigne which says that anybody critizising a group for other than theological matters is an atheistic enemy of every religion. This was expressed by a brochure edited in autumn 1997 by the Opus Dei in Vienna and also in the book Opus Dei: Un indigne, by Vittorio Messori who in chapter 3 of this book quoted Introvigne through several pages. Unfortunately, the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schoenborn, supported this theory and contributed to the brochure by an article where he also referred to Massimo Introvigne and to Gordon Melton. The latter even defended the AUM Shinrikyo cult known by the Sarin poison gas attack in 1995 in the subway of Tokyo. This theory is in strict contradiction to a report about the cult problem edited in 1986 by the Vatican and unnecessary to say it seems to be a means to hide that Opus Dei itself practices the methods which had been critizised by the named Vatican ducument. I have experienced myself what it means if a dear child falls victim to such methods of infantilising and depersonalisation, which also have been propagated by the founder of the Opus Dei, and I have dedicated the rest of my life to warn against such methods and against any groups using them." -- Friedrich Griess, Vice President of FECRIS.
"Do not let Opus Dei run the Vatican anymore. It's the wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't let the sanctification of Balaguer happen this October 6, 2002. I was a member for years and I know Maria del Carmen Tapia is right." -- Clara Frame, United States of America
"I read Michael Walsh's book some years ago and have continued to read excerpts or articles regarding Opus Dei. It is a scary organization and so out of place post Vatican II and the present." -- United States of America
"I wholeheartedly approve of this Letter to the Pope, and of the work being done to highlight the nefarious activities of Opus Dei. It would seem that the Pope, of all people, would be capable of discerning these things for himself, but as it has been in previous ages, sometimes the Holy Father has a blind spot resultant from the complacency of the Faithful: he relies on grace which is granted to him by the fervency of the Faithful's prayers and merits. This is a commendable work, and therefore counts toward the category of "merits", for it is the kind of thing that virtuous men (and women) of the past would have done. It is my prayer, therefore, that this campaign be graced with success, and even at this late date may have the effect of preventing the planned canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer or, failing that, be instrumental in establishing the historical fact of an outspoken opposition to it." -- United States of America
"I have already worked in a company that belonged to Opus Dei. I do not think that the founder had good doctrine. The canonization would be a scandal." -- Brazil
"I am a humble servant as are we all in the service of the King of Kings. I would like to point out that it is for God himself to decide who should and should not be given any type or kind of accolade - here we have a man who has taken opportunity time and time again to put himself up as God's mouth and revelation to the people in his care and his control. He has taken them and used them to his own personal gain -- in this he has denied the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made himself the one who is central and moved God out of the picture. To Canonise this man would be to the determine of the whole of the Body of Christ and put the Roman Catholic church in a very dark area with those outside of the Church who have had to pick up the broken and damaged men and women who have come through this organisation that glorifies a man and not God. I am reminded of the incident of Annanias & Sephira - He who lies to the Holy Spirit will have to answer to Him. I can say no more other than to make him out to be a special saint as is proposed is to bring the Church and its leaders into disrepute and in this day and age the Church cannot afford to be seen in this light. Take heed you who place men about the Lord of Hosts as you will answer to Him who is Lord of all." -- Ray O'Donnell, UK
"As an ex-numerary member, I fully agree with the letter. May the Holy Spirit illuminate our Pope in order to prevent that M. Escriva be included among many Saints that serve the Church with their lives." -- Argentina
"Opus Dei will have the holy founder that they have been searching for, but The Catholic Church will have the antithesis of an organization truly following the life of Jesus of Nazareth." -- Spain
"Opus Dei is an insiduous quasi-facist organisation that brooks no independent thought and has no place in the Roman Catholic Church. Josemaria Escriva has no place in the family of saints. God has damned him to hell." -- Hong Kong
"As a full-time worker for the church in Australia for many years I find the activities of many of the Opus Dei followers unchristian as well as anti-Catholic in their secretiveness and their own personal actions. For this reason among others I am very against his canonization. I feel that it will leave much heartache in the future church and will end up being a reflection of poor judgement on the current powers of the Roman Curia. We only have to go back in church history to find such hurried actions cause much heartache for later Catholics.Yours in Christ." -- Barry Sinclair, Australia
"This man was a fanatic. Don't canonise him. No wonder there was a reformation."-- Geoffrey Burnet, New Zealand
"This is October 6. This is a terrible day where the Catholic Church has been stained by this process and canonization of the man that has created a monster and where what used to be a holy system has been prostituted. May God have mercy for having a demon among the list of Holy Saints." -- Ecuador
"I read this after the fact. Josemaria Escriva has been cannonized. It was a mistake, but in a religion of redemption, there are no mistakes that can be fatal to the body of Christ. Bearing witness and continuing to bear witness to the concept of new wine in new wineskins and individual conscience and a true reciprocity between community and personhood requires that the universal body of Christ continue to work for something more in tune with the life of Christ and the witness of Christ." -- United States of America
ODAN's Opposition to the Canonization of Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer
September 11, 2002
Statement on the Canonization of Escrivá
ODAN opposes the canonization of Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei. Based on the testimonies of thousands negatively affected by Opus Dei, and published evidence from various sources revealing the irregularities surrounding Escriva's beatification and canonization processes, ODAN strongly believes that canonizing Escriva would be a grave mistake which would produce irreparable harm to the Church and leave thousands vulnerable to the deceitful and manipulative practices of Opus Dei. Specific details and reasons for opposing Escriva's canonization follow:
Facts & Irregularities in the Escriva Canonization
The quotes and facts below are taken from Kenneth Woodward's article, "A Questionable Saint, Is Opus Dei's founder fit for canonization?" Newsweek, January 13, 1992; from the official Opus Dei website; from Kenneth Woodward in his book, "The Helpers of God: How the Catholic Church makes Its Saints" National Catholic Register World Notes May 10, 1992; from Kenneth Woodward's article "A Coming-Out Party in Rome, Opus Dei prepares to stand by its man," Newsweek, May 18 1992; from the Vatican website; and from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
1. Based on materials worked up by a team of Opus Dei priests, John Paul II declared Escriva "heroically virtuous" in April 1990.
2. In July 1991, a miraculous healing authenticated, in part, by Opus Dei doctors was attributed to Escriva's intercession.
3. There is no devil's advocate to systematically challenge a candidate's claim to holiness. Thus some Vatican officials said Opus Dei was able to use its influence to manipulate the church's saint-making system for the benefit of its founder.
4. Opus Dei's first prelate, Alvaro del Portillo, who was also Escriva's successor, was a consultor to several congregations and councils of the Holy See, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. As a member of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, he also helped in the drafting of the current Code that eliminated the "devil's advocate," promulgated by John Paul II in 1983.
5. An Opus Dei member, Dr. Raffaello-Cortesini, a heart surgeon, headed the medical board that reviews potential miracles for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
6. Serious charges were brought that Opus Dei prevented critics of Escriva from testifying at church tribunals called to investigate his life. Opus Dei officials insist that 11 critics were heard among 92 witnesses. Several former members were refused a hearing. Among them: Maria del Carmen Tapia, Father Vladimir Feltzman and John Roche.
7. Escriva defended Adolf Hitler. He told Father Feltzman that "Hitler had been unjustly accused of killing 6 million Jews." "In fact he had killed only 4 million."
8. Even some Opus Dei sympathizers, like retired Cardinal Silvio Oddi who served the Vatican for decades in key posts, believe the push to make Escriva a Saint has done Opus Dei "more harm than good". Although bishops are reluctant to criticize Opus Dei openly, says Oddi, many are "very displeased" by the rush to judgment and see "no need for the immediate beatification of their founder."
9. Normally to assess potential saints the Vatican appoints "consultors" who come from the candidate's homeland. Curiously, eight of Escriva's nine judges were Italian - a sign say critics that the congregation wanted to avoid Spanish theologians, many of whom are known to oppose Opus Dei. Opus Dei officials argue that because Escriva was an international figure and lived in Rome, there was no need to have Spanish judges.
10. Opus Dei has refused to let outsiders see the material on which Escriva's "heroic virtues" were judged -- an unprecedented act of secrecy, say priests familiar with the process.
11. Opus Dei officials have claimed that Escriva's cause had been unanimously approved. However Newsweek has learned that two of the judges, Msgr. Luigi De Magistris, deputy head of the Vatican's Holy Penitentiary, and Msgr. Justo Fernandez Alonso, rector of the Spanish National Church in Rome, did not approve the cause. In fact, one of the dissenters reportedly wrote that beatifying Escriva could cause the church "grave public scandal."
12. Under Pope Paul VI, Opus Dei was suspect. Vatican documents show that Paul worried that Opus Dei priests in the Vatican were leaking confidential decisions to Escriva.
13. John Paul II has increased the number of Opus Dei bishops . . . (there were only 4 before, all in Latin America) and granted Opus its own Pontifical "atheneum" in Rome despite objections from the rectors of the Church's established pontifical universities.
14. In 1982 John Paul II awarded Opus Dei a unique status as "personal prelature" which means its clerical and lay members take spiritual direction from their own prelate in Rome and not like other Catholics from their local bishop.
15. Opus Dei's real power is inside the Vatican bureaucracy . . .several ranking cardinals and at least one of the pope's personal secretaries, Father Stanislaw Dziwisz from Cracow are either [Opus Dei] "cooperators" or like the Pope himself, strong sympathizers.
16. Officials who supervise the media-conscious pope's liaisons with television are members of Opus Dei.
17. Officials of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints not only gave the cause top priority but, as the official positio on Escriva shows, they also bent rules to exclude damaging evidence about Escriva's character and commitment to the church.
18. The positio claims that the volatile Escriva lost his temper only once, yet many former members who knew him will insist he was routinely abusive of anyone suspected of being an enemy of Opus Dei, including Pope John XXIII and Paul VI. Former numerary Maria del Carmen Tapia relates in her book Beyond the Threshold: A Life in Opus Dei that Escriva routinely lost his temper, and that as secretary in charge of writing down his words and actions, she was not allowed to right down anything negative that she witnessed. She herself was subjected to abusive words from Escriva, who called her the most filthy names, e.g. WHORE, SOW, PIG, and then screamed during this meeting with both men and women present, that someone should "pull down her panties.... and give her a spanking," referring to a fellow numerary woman who had assisted Tapia by mailing letters for her. Regarding this statement, a supporter of ODAN wrote the following: "This is the most bizarre and perverted talk coming from anyone, man or woman, but for a man to say this to an adult woman...for a priest to use this language and make this statement to a woman; for a saint to make this statement, completely perverts not only the rules of civilized behavior, but sanctity itself. There is no excuse for this conduct, no excuse at all. This, in and of itself, belies his sanctity."
19. A Vatican source said, contrary to established procedure, no published writings critical of Escriva were included in the documents given to the judges of his cause; nor did the congregation investigate Escriva's celebrated conflicts with the Jesuits, reports of his pro-fascist leanings and Opus Dei's involvement with the Franco government.
20. 40% of the testimony came from just two men, (Alvaro) Portillo (deceased Opus Dei prelate and Escriva's successor) and his assistant Father Javier Echevarria, (current Opus Dei prelate).
21. Although 1,300 bishops and cardinals from all over the world had written to the Vatican giving positive statements on the Opus Dei founder, only 128 of them had actually met him in person.
22. According to [Woodward's] research, Opus Dei members allegedly have put hundreds of bishops under financial pressure in order to have them send positive reports about Escriva to the Vatican. Especially in the Third World, bishops were allegedly told that financial contributions from Opus Dei might be in jeopardy if they did not answer the request for positive testimony.
23. The "devil's advocate" that had been part of the canonization process before 1983 was replaced by a "relator"; thus the door was open for the rapid canonization of Escriva. (Note that the current Opus Dei prelate at the time, Portillo, was part of the committee that eliminated the devil's advocate.) In the past, it was the job of the devil's advocate to ask "why shouldn't this person be canonized?"
Feedback from ODAN supporters:
(Opinions held by the persons below do not necessarily reflect the views of ODAN, its officers or Board of Directors.)
Joseph I. B. Gonzales, Former numerary, six years
The problem is not the man. It is the institutionalization of the man.
My real concern is that his faults--his harshness, duplicity, or immoderation, for example--should by the fact of canonization render these traits dubiously normative, not only for Opus Dei but for all Catholics as well.
I hope that now that Josemaria Escriva is canonized, his life and the organization he founded will be opened up to the critical perspective that time and reflection by necessity lends to the fair understanding of the lives of the saints. At this point we may perhaps begin to acknowledge the glaring reality of his defects as well as their potentially damaging influence, just as today we easily recognize the vindictiveness of St. Jerome, the rigorism of St. Alphonsus de Liguori, or the neuroticism of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Joseph Gonzales has written the Vocation Trap for the odan website.
Dr. John Roche, Linacre College, Oxford
"I am concerned about the harm that the canonization of Josemaria Escriva will do to the reputation of the whole process of beatification and canonization."
To read Dr. Roche's personal testimony of his experience as a numerary in Opus Dei, please read his True Story, "The Inner World of Opus Dei."
John Roche has also added the following points to the list of Facts and Irregularities in the Canonization of Monsignor Escriva:
1. Words of Monsignor 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 tittle shall ever be changed" (Cronica);
"I will pass away, and those who come afterwards will look at you with envy as if you were a relic" (Cronica i, 1971);
". . . when I think of this divine predilection, I feel ashamed" (Cronica i, 1971);
"As we come to know the Work ... not finding other more expressive words of love, perhaps we had to have recourse to scripture: tota pulchra est, amica mea, et macula non est in te (Song of Songs 4:7) ... the Work is tota pulchra ... this wonderful jewel that men admire" (Cronica v, 1960);
2. Words about Monsignor Escriva, from the internal magazine, Cronica, while he still lived
"The heritage of heaven comes to us through the Father" (Cronica i, 1961);
" ... we will bless the Lord ... because He chose our Father as the firm base for a Work projected through all the length and breadth of time" (Cronica i, 1971);
"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);
3. Facts about the Founder
L. Carandell, Vida y milagros de monsenor Escriva ... (Barcelona, 1975), 62-67. On 24 January 1968 Mgr. Escriva solicited the title 'Marquis of Peralta' claiming that there was a family connection. He was granted the title. At the same time his brother, Santiago, solicited the title 'Baron of San Felipe'
4. Testimony of former members
During the period 1959-1973, while I was a member of Opus Dei, it was frequently stated publicly at get-togethers of members of Opus Dei, that Monsignor Escriva had stated often that places where important events happened to him during the early years of Opus Dei would become centers of international pilgrimage -- John Roche
In July 1973, in Galway, Ireland, Fr Daniel Cummings, the then Procurator-General of Opus Dei informed me the Monsignor Escriva was divinely inspired to found Opus Dei, that he could not err in matters of the spirit of opus Dei, and that, therefore, as a condition of membership I must believe in that Divine inspiration -- John Roche
"On one occasion the Father was given the news that ... an old priest ... of Opus Dei ... had a severe haemorrhage and was near to death. Monsignor Escriva replied that this son of his lacked supernatural outlook, that he wished to go outside without wearing his cassock" -- Maria Angustias Moreno, El Opus Dei, 1993, 57.
Other comments about the canonization
Kenneth L. Woodward, Newsweek New York, NY
Fair to Opus Dei? Letter to the Editor of First Things, 61, March 1996, 2-7
I am pleased that Richard John Neuhaus ("The Work of God," November 1995) finds me "often fair-minded," though I suspect that is only when my views mirror his -- as they often do. That he detects a "long-standing hostility to Opus Dei" is not quite fair-minded of Father Neuhaus. My writing about Opus Dei has focused almost entirely on the beatification of its founder, not the organization itself. On this point, the only fair-minded conclusion I can reach, given the evidence of the positio itself and interviews with people in Rome involved in the process, is that Opus Dei subverted the canonization process to get its man beatified. In a word, it was a scandal -- from the conduct of the tribunals through the writing of the positio to the high-handed treatment of the experts picked to judge the cause. That Newsweek caught Opus Dei officials making claims that were not true is a matter of record. Escriva may have been a saint -- who am I to judge? but you could never tell from the way his cause was handled. Then, too, there is the matter of the banality of his writings, especially the axioms. Not the sort of stuff, I think, to build a spiritual community around. As for the organization itself, I'm sure it meets the needs of some Catholics. But as a parent, I am naturally inclined to worry about its methods and to take more seriously than does Father Neuhaus the complaints of those who feel they have lost a child to the organization. I, too, thought Jim Martin did a good job in his America piece, and am sorry only that so many folks felt they could not speak on the record. Whatever else it does, Opus Dei strikes fear in the timid and the mitered. I've met some likable people in Opus Dei but I'd hate to have my daughter marry one. To be fair-minded, I wouldn't want her to wed a Jesuit either, though I hope she'd ask one to say the nuptial mass.
Kenneth Woodward is the author of Making Saints, How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't, and Why, Simon and Schuster, 1990, in which he writes about Opus Dei and Escriva's beatification on pp. 383-389. One former numerary testifies that this book is on Opus Dei's Index of Forbidden Books, with the most restricted classification.
Revised June 20, 2005