posted on 08/05/2022 06:00
(credit: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)
The Motu Proprio Ad charisma tuendum (“To protect the charisma”), a document issued by Pope Francis to reform Opus Dei, one of the most influential conservative organizations in the Catholic Church, began yesterday. The text determines the transfer of competences from Opus Dei — the prelature becomes “depending on the Dicastery (or ministry) of the Clergy”. Every year, and no longer every five years, the prelature will have the obligation to present to that body a report on the internal situation and the development of its apostolic work. The prelates (ecclesiastical authorities) of Opus Dei will no longer receive the episcopal order.
In theory, Francis reduces power to the independence of an organization seen by critics and former members as a secret sect. Present in more than 60 countries, Opus Dei is made up of 90,000 members, including politicians and businessmen, and more than 2,000 priests, especially in Europe and Latin America. The organization was founded in 1928 by Spanish priest Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, who died in Rome in 1975, aged 73. In 2002, Balaguer was canonized by Pope John Paul II. Two decades earlier, Karol Wojtyla had elevated Opus Dei to the status of a “personal prelature.”
Manuel Sánchez, one of Opus Dei’s press advisers, tried to minimize the impact of the papal document. “Some have interpreted the Holy See’s provisions in terms of ‘debasement’ or ‘loss of power’. We are not interested in this type of dialectic, because for a Catholic it makes no sense to use mundane categories of power,” he told Agence France-France. press. “We welcome what comes from the Holy Father, with the desire to delve deeper into what is essential,” he added.
From the age of 15 to 33, the Spanish Carmen Charo Pérez, now 65, was part of Opus Dei. He decided to leave the Catholic organization after a deep depression in 1991. “I had a life crisis and ‘schizophrenia’. What I lived and thought did not coincide at all. Opus Dei usually looks for very young people with family conflicts. once inside, they cancel it out completely. There is no freedom at any level”, he told the Correio, by telephone. Yesterday, she received with relief the news that Francis has decided to reform Opus Dei. “The pontiff decided to put Opus Dei where it should always be. Opus Dei wanted to control the Church. Its members believe that it is the very voice of God. The pope has always made it clear that the only representatives of the prelature are the priests, and that the faithful should act as collaborators, without any commitment.”
Carmen accused Opus Dei of imposing fear on followers. “It’s mind control and permanent. In young people, this is very dangerous,” she said. She recalls that 42 Paraguayan and Argentinian women, from poor families, filed a lawsuit against the Vatican. “Opus Dei sought out these women and promised them training and professional advancement. What they received was slavery treatment. They were forced to work for hours for free, without the right to a social life or any type of pension. The same happened to me. For a decade, I worked for Opus Dei without a contract. I left empty-handed and without help.”
The Correio spoke with the lawyer of the 42 South American women cited by Carmen. Also a former member of Opus Dei, Argentine Sebastian Sal, 56, said that the organization’s reform was necessary. “Francis puts limits on Opus Dei, in part because of the complaint we presented in September 2021. It is clear that Opus Dei intended to be a parallel Church. With his decision, the Pope affirms that Opus Dei must respect the Church norms and accountable to local bishops,” the Buenos Aires resident said by phone. “It seems to me that Opus Dei has moved away from its ‘mother’, and the Church sets necessary limits. What is lacking is a real request for forgiveness for the abuses they committed and a real intention to repair those people who left their lives inside. and left with nothing, no money and no education.”
“Opus Dei forced me to live a kind of vocation, celibacy and abandonment of the family. These things are abuses never approved by the Vatican for lay people. Opus Dei controls consciences and forces all members to carry out weekly spiritual missions This is something the Pope wants to cut. If Pope Francis manages to make Opus Dei obey him, I believe he will put an end to the control of the laity. In turn, Opus Dei will have to assume that each person will live as he wants, without paying accounts of your intimate life, your friendships, your money and your time.”