Pope Francis decided with a Motu Proprio, a papal document, to reform the influential Catholic organization Opus Dei, known in Europe and Latin America for its conservative positions.
The papal document, entitled “Ad charisma tuendum” (“To protect the charisma”), in force from this Thursday (4) and released last July, “cuts the power and independence” of the powerful organization within of the Church, according to religion experts.
In an open letter, Opus Dei prelate Fernando Ocariz said he accepted the changes and urged members to follow the pope’s call “to spread the call to holiness in the world.”
Opus Dei spokesman Manuel Sanchez told AFP: “Some have interpreted the Holy See’s provisions in terms of demotion or loss of power. We are not interested in that kind of reasoning, because for a Catholic it makes no sense to use mundane categories of power”.
The reforms, announced by Pope Francis in a Motu Proprio decree last month, are part of broader changes to modernize and introduce greater transparency within the governance of the Catholic Church.
From now on, the leader of Opus Dei – the prelate – will no longer be appointed bishop and will not be able to wear episcopal robes, and the organization will depend on the Dicastery (or ministry) of the Clergy.
Every year, instead of the previous five years, the prelate must present to this body a report on his work. “A form of government based on charisma rather than hierarchical authority is needed,” the pope wrote in his decree.
Forty years after the recognition of John Paul II in 1982, “Francis seeks to do away with an excessively hierarchical structure”, observed Jesus Bastante, of the specialized publication Religião Digital.
Accused by critics of being a kind of secret sect to control power inside and outside the Vatican, which the organization has always denied, Opus Dei is present in more than 60 countries and is made up of around 90,000 lay members, including leading figures. political and business, and more than 2,000 priests, especially in Europe and Latin America.
It was founded in 1928 by the Spanish priest Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, who died in Rome in 1975, aged 73, and whose canonization in 2002 by John Paul II generated controversy due to its proximity to the Franco dictatorship in Spain.