LETTER:The ethos of Opus Dei

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The Independent Online
From Dr John J. Roche

Sir: Richard Stork's reply (9 June) to Paul Vallely's article on Opus Dei ignores specific criticisms and repeats bland generalisations about his organisation. I will deal with a few points in Father Stork's replies.

He asserts that the accusation of secretiveness in Opus Dei derives from the fact that its members do not wear a religious habit. In the Constitutions of 1950, however, Rule 191 states

no one must reveal to anyone that they themselves belong to Opus Dei ...

Father Stork states that Opus Dei's "only goals are spiritual". In 1964 the Founder of Opus Dei wrote as follows:

The Bible Society and the Salvation Army have banks, insurance companies, etc. They need these means to carry out their beneficent activity and to extend it. We have at least the same reasons as these ... for handling economic means ... I only wish they were a thousand times more than they are ... I only hope they exist as soon as possible.

Father Stork denies that "friendship is some kind of bait" in Opus Dei. In 1971 the Founder wrote:

We have to spread out like a fan ... we must open up like a hand and have a group of souls ... dangling from each finger ... and pull ... whoever has the calling in turn spreads the invitation. Souls are like cherries, you pull one and you get two.

Members of Opus Dei live in a virtual reality created by the mind of its Founder. They are sincerely unable to see that the attractive public picture which they paint of themselves is incompatible with internal realities. For much of my time as a member I could not see these contradictions, either.

It is symptomatic of this organisation that it will never accept that there is the slightest need to change its ethos. They never say, "Yes we were a bit secretive in the 1950s but that was the spirit of the age and now we are trying to be more open."

This absolute certainty that it is, was, and always will be perfect in spirit is not amusing, it is alarming. I worry very much about what will happen to its members when the Catholic Church finally decides to act.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN ROCHE

Linacre College

Oxford

15 June

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