By J. Parnell McCarter



What the Jesuit Order is for the left wing of the Roman Catholic Church, Opus Dei is for its right wing.  (Hegelian politics at its finest, for the Roman Catholic Church cannot lose if it has strong ties with both ends of the political spectrum!  Of course, to work it requires Protestants to be duped into political alliances with heretics.)  Many Protestants are not familiar with Opus Dei though, so a bit of education is necessary. 


Although Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a wicked secular humanist organization, its website contains useful information concerning Opus Dei.  One informative article, excerpted below, is at http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8183&abbr=cs_ :


“…Opus Dei, Latin for “work of God,” has, according to media reports, at least 3,000 members in the United States but its influence, critics say, has been more substantial than its numbers would indicate. In 2002, an Opus Dei priest, the Rev. C. John McCloskey III, former director of the Catholic Information Center, converted U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism. Brown­back’s conversion was shepherded by U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a conservative Catholic and Opus Dei booster. Long the scourge of progressive Catholics, Opus Dei, with an estimated 80,000 members worldwide, has enjoyed a close relationship with the church’s conservative hierarchy, serving, as one writer put it in the mid 1980s, as a “holy mafia” to promote far-right views on “culture war” issues. The organization has long had its own order of priests, and in 1982, Pope John Paul II granted Opus Dei special status known as a “personal prelature.” That means the group is overseen by its own bishop, who reports directly to the pope. Opus Dei is the only organization to enjoy such unique privileges...

Ann Schweninger, a former Opus Dei member, told Martin, “Opus Dei plays by its own rules. If they don’t want to have something out in the open, they won’t make it accessible.”…

Opus Dei does not publish a directory of members but is known for its interest in targeting the rich and powerful. Over the years, rumors have surfaced that certain high-profile Catholics might be members. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito have been fingered as possibilities. There is no proof in either case, but Newsweek magazine reported in 2001 that Scalia’s wife has attended functions at the Catholic Information Center, and his son Paul, a Catholic priest, has spoken there.

Santorum is also pegged as a possible member. In 2002, Santorum attended an Opus Dei event in Rome, during which he attacked President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 endorsement of church-state separation. Santorum said the Kennedy vow not to enforce Catholic doctrine through civil law has caused “much harm in America” and went on to describe President George W. Bush, a Methodist, as the nation’s first true Catholic president.

“From economic issues focusing on the poor and social justice, to issues of human life, George Bush is there,” Santorum told the National Catholic Reporter. He has every right to say, ‘I’m where you are if you’re a believing Catholic.’”

McCloskey foresees a smaller Catholic Church in the future, but he predicts that it will be much more obedient and will include “hundreds of thousands of Evangelical Protestants” who convert to Catholicism…

McCloskey and other Opus Dei leaders deny any political agenda. They note that Escriva founded the group on Oct. 2, 1928, after what he said was a command from God. The son of a Spanish textile merchant was on a spiritual retreat at the time and claimed that God ordered him to establish the organization and to limit it to men only. Two years later, Escriva said, he received a revelation from God to open the group to women.

In 1946, Escriva moved to Rome and began traveling throughout Europe to spread the message of Opus Dei. Four years later, Pope Pius XII officially recognized the group.  Escriva died on June 26, 1975. In 1992, he was beatified, the first step to sainthood. His official canonization as a saint occurred on Oct, 2, 2002, during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in Rome attended by thousands of devotees.  Yet there has always been another side to Opus Dei. Escriva’s critics were less than pleased with his fast-track to sainthood, noting that in 1958, Escriva had written a fawning letter to Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain, congratulating him for extending official recognition to the Catholic Church.  The May 28, 1953, missive reads, “Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, ‘The Spanish nation considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation.’”…

Opus Dei first appeared in the United States in 1949. Growth was initially slow, but its presence in the country today is far-reaching. Opus Dei runs 60 centers in 19 cities, among them Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and San Francisco…Frequently aligning with fundamentalist Protestants, far-right Catholics are an often-overlooked, but powerful, segment of the Religious Right…”


Another article at http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8186&abbr=cs_ supplies additional useful information:


“In the fall of 1980, an FBI agent in New York and his wife paid a visit to an Opus Dei priest, the Rev. Robert P. Bucciarelli.  Robert Hanssen had an unusual confession to make: He had turned over sensitive material to the Soviet Union and been paid $30,000 for it. Robert and Bonnie Hanssen wanted to know if the G-man would have to turn himself in. Bucciarelli at first said yes, but the next day telephoned the Hanssens and asked to see them again. The priest told the couple all would be well if Hanssen would donate the money to charity.

After mulling it over, Hanssen, who had already spent most of the $30,000, told his wife he would pay an equivalent amount to Mother Teresa. As The New York Times reported in May of 2002, “[Hanssen] began to make small payments over several years to a charity affiliated with Mother Teresa’s Catholic organization, moving the family close to bankruptcy. [Bonnie Hanssen] said she repeatedly questioned her husband to ensure that he was making the payments, and each time he insisted that he was.”

The incident, recounted in David Wise’s 2002 book Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hans­sen Betrayed America, is a reminder that Opus Dei, known for its aggressive outreach to the rich and powerful, has some devotees it would probably rather forget all about. Convicted spy Robert Hanssen is one of them…

Hanssen, a highly placed FBI agent, was arrested in February of 2001 after 22 years of spying for the Russians. His activities netted him millions of dollars – but also resulted in the deaths of three double-agents in Russia who were exposed by Hanssen.

Incredibly, even as he was betraying his country, Hanssen became deeply involved with Opus Dei. He frequently promoted the group to his colleagues and took his family to Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, a conservative parish in Great Falls, Va., popular with many Opus Dei members in the Washing­ton, D.C., area.

In affiliating with the group, Hanssen was in some respects traveling a well-trod path. Wise quotes one source who pointed out that the Tenley Center, a focal point for Opus Dei in Washington, had strong ties to the Reagan administration.

“Half of the Reagan White House would come to meetings at Tenley House,” the source told Wise. “Opus Dei is very strong on recruiting people, and once they have you, they don’t let go. They’re all over you.”…


And another website http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/001764.html adds this:


Opus Dei has a friend in Pennsylvania: Sen. Rick Santorum.

A report released yesterday by Political Money Line -- detailing trips for all members of Congress funded by outside groups since 2000 -- notes that in January 2002, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation paid $2,000 for Santorum to travel to Rome to give a speech. The senator reported that the school paid $1,800 for airfare and $200 for meals on a 5-day trip.  The Rome university, which has trained hundreds of new priests, is the educational arm of Opus Dei. It traces its roots back to the Saint Josemaria Escriva, the Opus Dei founder whose life and subsequent canonization under Pope John Paul II has been shrouded in controversy.

Indeed, Santorum's 2002 trip -- which got little attention in the post-9/11 haze -- was to address of celebration of the 100th anniversary of Escriva's birth. He was interviewed there by the National Catholic Reporter and said he was an admirer of Escriva -- who is recorded as having whipped himself until the walls of a bathroom were splattered with blood and once wrote: "Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain...Glorified be pain!"

When in Rome, Santorum also disavowed John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 speech on the separation of church and state -- the speech that is credited with helping to elect JFK as the first, and still the last, Roman Catholic president:

He told NCR that a distinction between private religious conviction and public responsibility, enshrined in John Kennedy’s famous speech in 1960 saying he would not take orders from the Catholic church if elected president, has caused “much harm in America.”

… Santorum told NCR that he regards George W. Bush as “the first Catholic president of the United States.”…

In March 2004, Santorum received a standing ovation from the first-ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which was organized in part by the director of the Catholic Information Center run by the Opus Dei movement. In 2002, the Pennsylvania senator worked closely with Father John McCloskey, head of Opus Dei in Washington, to guide the conversion of Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback to Catholicism….”

This same cadre of individuals attended the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in April 2006, as explained at http://www.madisoncatholicherald.org/natl-world.html :

Posted: 4/11/2006, 2:55 p.m. Central Time

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- From commonly used language to societal priorities, the "moral relativism" decried by Pope Benedict XVI often seems to be the only way to cope with modern times, said Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, urging participants at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast April 7 to work against that tide.

In a program that also included remarks by President George W. Bush, the Vatican's representative in Washington, and the priest who is supervising the reconstruction of Catholic schools in New Orleans, Bishop Morlino's keynote address warned about the "dictatorship of relativism" and described what he said are the "members of the junta" and the enforcement mechanisms they employ in maintaining that dictatorship.

In his remarks, Bush expressed appreciation for the Catholic Church's role in encouraging "a vision of human freedom and dignity rooted in the same self-evident truths of America's founding." He also acknowledged the church's role in providing social services, and in "welcoming neighbors and helping them become good citizens."

Referring to the ongoing legislative battle to craft an immigration bill, Bush repeated his call for changes to "an immigration system that forces people into the shadows of our society, or leaves them prey to criminals."

As Congress continues the debate, he said, its members must remember "we are a nation of immigrants. And immigration has helped restore our soul on a regular basis."

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's diplomatic representative to Washington, and Dominican Father Neal McDermott, who is in charge of school reconstruction in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, also made brief remarks.

Among those attending the third such Catholic prayer breakfast were Chief Justice John Roberts, Republican Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sam Brownback of Kansas, a handful of Republican members of Congress, and one Democratic member, Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, as well as several current and former officials of the Bush administration.

Cardinals Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington and Anthony J. Bevilacqua, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, were joined by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio, Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va., and Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley of Washington…”


We would be fools not to ask what the relationship of these US leaders is to Opus Dei, and what their agenda for America is vis-à-vis the Roman Catholic Church.  And how does their stance on illegal immigration from predominantly Roman Catholic countries like Mexico play into their agenda?