October 6, 2002
12:39 PM   Subscribe

Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of the Opus Dei movement, was canonized today. Opus Dei is a conservative movement within the catholic church, and counts many powerful people among its adherents - the current pope among them. However, it is not without its detractors and opponents. Some of the most important people in the Franco dictatorship were part of the group, as were several of the participants in the Venezuelan coup earlier this year. Should we keep an eye on these guys? They are certainly secretive and aggressive, but are they just a group of concerned, pious Catholics, or a power-hungry fraternity? I'm half-catholic myself, and certainly curious to hear if any Catholic MeFiers have thoughts on this subject. Even better, an Opus Dei member to clarify some of these misunderstandings...
posted by charlesv (24 comments total)

Sorry. Double link.
posted by the fire you left me at 1:08 PM on October 6, 2002

I'm half-catholic myself

How does that work?
posted by fatbobsmith at 1:19 PM on October 6, 2002

Having heard the the piece on NPR's Weekend Edition, I foresaw an Opus Dei post--it's a fascinating subject, given the dispensation give by the Pope, the speed with which they canonized Josemaria and the cult like aspects of the group. Apart from de-Latinizing the Mass--and worse yet, Folk masses, eeyew-- I liked Pope John XXXIII a lot more than John Paul II, so I'm inclined to distrust these guys since Josemaria formed the group in reaction to Pope John's Vatican II. The NPR story said Pope John Paul II has canonized something like 480 something saints--can this be? Seems like a devaluation of the whole concept. Great for the Catholic Supply Stores, I suppose--C'mon over to aisle 11 for the Blue Light Special on New Catholic Saints--yikes!
posted by y2karl at 1:21 PM on October 6, 2002

I never liked that Opus Dei anyways

posted by RobbieFal at 1:36 PM on October 6, 2002

fatbob -
jewish mom, catholic dad.
i'm a cashew.
posted by charlesv at 1:39 PM on October 6, 2002

i'm a cashew

or a jewholic
posted by billybobtoo at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2002

here in chile the likely next president (the populist mayor of santiago, joaquin lavin) is a member of opus dei (eg this apparently from the ft). i'm not sure "right-wing" is a strong enough description - they have a reputation for being extreme even here (where the range of "normal" politics is already much wider than in the uk, or usa, for example).

when you live in a "western" country, news like this seems unconnected with daily life. but here (where abortion remains illegal, divorce is only possible via legal loophopes and lies, and the views of the pope make front page news in the papers) it's a sign that things are unlikely to improve...
posted by andrew cooke at 2:04 PM on October 6, 2002

ps on the other hand, opus gay has been prominently displayed on quite a few news-stands over the last week or two.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:06 PM on October 6, 2002

Anywhere but right smack in the center of any movement is a bad place to be.
posted by timbley at 2:12 PM on October 6, 2002


Where to start?

Maybe: that there has to be 'bona fide' miracles established before the progression from beatification to sainthood? Soooo-oo, who's putting their hands up for that one? Aah, quite a lot of you. Okay..

Churches are all about social control, agreed? Do things this way, and you are in; that way, and you're out. Really out. We won't speak to you, and when the time comes (not that anyone ever came back to tell us), neither will our lord! No, really!

There's no choice for me: around the time I started thinking for myself, say, 13 years old, hormones kicked in too. (I know you don't wanna hear this, but it's relevant) I decided that the dogmas, creeds & strictures of my Catholic church made no sense.

Which was lucky, in a way: if they found out I was gay, then they woulda kicked me out. It's hard to have sympathy with a church (/society/ group/ family/ state/ club) that dislikes you: indeed, seems to hate you sometimes.

It seems to me, that this opus dei is a very successful infiltration group: why the liberal catholics haven't done the same, I don't know ( apart from, they're out of favour with the guys in the pointy hats & flowing purple robes)(oh, come on, they do dress...unconventionally. What period of history did that come from? The Restoration?).
It's like the SS being taken over by some even more extreme group.

It would make me laugh, except I am overcome with sadness for the countless lives that are screwed by religion. Over & over & over... these guys, along with the Christian Brothers & the Jesuits, are the stormtroopers of a quasi-fascist cult.

I'll never forgive the church for what it does to people like me.

*MeFi Opinion Alert
posted by dash_slot- at 2:42 PM on October 6, 2002

[Sadly, all the opus gay sites are in portuguese. Miguel, any clues?]
posted by dash_slot- at 2:45 PM on October 6, 2002

charlesv: jewish mom, catholic dad.

I'm surprised you haven't self-imploded in guilt by now.

(Insert appropriate emoticons as necessary.)
posted by UKnowForKids at 2:59 PM on October 6, 2002

It's a gay organization, dash_slot-. Opus gay is an adaptation of an old joke, used when someone asks whether you're religious. You say "Sure, I'm copus day and copus night". Copos are drinks so it means "I drink all day and I drink all night". ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:02 PM on October 6, 2002

I don't think you can be half catholic...
posted by delmoi at 11:21 PM on October 6, 2002

I'm not Catholic but I went to America's most influential Catholic university. I remember the weekly student magazine caused quite a furor one year by running a piece entitled "Opus Dei: A Catholic Cult?" Most students I knew, even the diehard Catholics, wrote them off a complete loonies. The article focused quite a bit on the "self-flagellation" aspect of it. Apparently the big thing amongst the South Bend group was to wear this wire device around your leg that cut into your thigh all day long. It was pretty horrifying to read about, and especially to recognize some of the members (there was a photo) from classes I had. Kinda freaky to realize the guy I sat next to in Philosophy was wearing the 20th century equivalent of a hair shirt the entire time. Other than that, I'd never heard of the group before and I haven't heard of them since. I can't help but think that the Church rather rushed into this canonization without thinking about the added damage their image might take. I mean, it's bad enough that a lot of folks now associate men of the cloth with pedophiles. Now they're making a saint out of a guy that a lot of folks think was a cult leader. Not a good P.R. move.
posted by web-goddess at 11:36 PM on October 6, 2002

I don't think you can be half catholic...

Not without special permission from God, anyway.

In other news, one of Opus Dei's more prominent members is the recently convicted FBI-agent-turned-spy Robert Hanssen.
posted by Zulujines at 4:05 AM on October 7, 2002

I seem to recall that SC Justice Scalia is among the group's members as well. I'm just droppin' names so the FBI agent who was caught spying in a big way last year is/was also a member.
The org reminds me of a catholic variant of the Free Masons.
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:12 AM on October 7, 2002

Opus Dei = extreme Catholic Fundamentalism

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Good catch on the Hannsen link Zulujines. It's what I visited this post to do myself!
posted by nofundy at 5:17 AM on October 7, 2002

Opus Dei is whacked. Those fuckers tried to suck me into their group when I was a freshman in college. Fuckers frowned when I tried to eat a pastrami sandwich one Friday. The Catholic Church is not a good thing.
posted by riptide at 6:05 AM on October 7, 2002

Not really related, but here is a very interesting piece concerning the coming upsurge of Christianity in the 3rd World: "Christianity worldwide is growing and mutating rapidly, and in ways that observers in the West tend not to see. Tumultuous conflicts within Christianity will leave a mark deeper than Islam's on the coming century. We stand at a historical turning point, the author argues, that is as epochal as the Reformation"
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 6:41 AM on October 7, 2002

I liked Pope John XXXIII a lot more than John Paul II

Did... did we hit a wrinkle in time? I'm cold and scared!
posted by languagehat at 6:47 AM on October 7, 2002

As an only marginally involved Catholic, I have to say that I have heard of this group, but before today I knew next to nothing about them.

I do think that many Catholics consider them loonies, but at the same time they get a certain kind of respect. I mean, when it comes to the Church's agenda, they will get things done. The problem is, they aren't the right things. While that agenda is increasing the Church's power in some ways, they are also alienating many younger Catholics (like myself).
posted by valval22 at 6:50 AM on October 7, 2002

I seem to recall that SC Justice Scalia is among the group's members as well. I'm just droppin' names so the FBI agent who was caught spying in a big way last year is/was also a member.

Supposedly Scalia is not actually a member, but his wife attends Opus Dei functions (whatever that may mean). Louis Freeh is also widely suspected to be in the organization.
posted by picopebbles at 7:02 AM on October 7, 2002

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