The M+G+R Foundation
Dei - Behind the Scenes
A Book Review
As the kind courtesy of OhmyNews and
Ms. Ana María Brambilla, The
M+G+R Foundation brings to its readers a very well written and
balanced review of the latest book about The Prelature of the Holy
Cross and Opus Dei - "Opus Dei - Os Bastidores" ("Opus Dei - Behind the Scenes") just
published in Brazil and destined for many Top Sellers Lists across the
Portuguese speaking communities across the world.
of the Work of God (Opus Dei) reveal group's unseemly practices
Why not devote yourself to God's truth
a book review by Ana Maria
A dangerous game of faith and brainwashing starts with a
remarkable pseudo-scientific initiation. Teens invited to study groups
in cultural centers are welcomed by famous professors from universities
that these boys and girls aspire to enter.
But little by little science takes a back seat to religion. A group of
teens is invited to a retreat to hear a lecture by a priest. In his
speech the priest will talk about his vocation:
If you can see your way clearly, follow
it. Why don't you dismiss the cowardice that holds you back?
"Go and preach the Gospel... I'll be
with you." Who said that? - it was Jesus Christ, and He said it to YOU!
God's Kingdom will never end! Wouldn't
you be happy to work for a kingdom like this?
The impressionable boy listening to this lecture probably has never
thought about entering a religious order. Maybe, he just wanted to get
married, have children, and live a life as a good Catholic.
But at a time in his life when he is full of fears and uncertainties,
when his personality is still being formed, he now receives a "Call
from God." His life, henceforth, will be a happy thing, because he will
sanctify his existence now and in the afterlife.
| "Opus Dei - Os Bastidores" was
released by Verus publishing company in Brazil.
|© 2005 Verus
In a nutshell, this is the appeal used by Opus Dei members to get new
recruits to live the "Work of God." This is the starting point of the
book "Opus Dei -- Os Bastidores" written by three ex-members of this
Vatican-supported religious organization.
Dario Fortes Ferreira, Jean Lauand, and Marcio Fernandes da Silva have
compiled several months of depositions from people who infiltrated Opus
Dei operations around the world, especially in Brazil, where this
ecclesiastical group of the Catholic Church is at work in twenty
states. Today, more than two hundred ex-members have kept in touch with
the authors about their pains and psychological problems. The authors
also reproduce their own memories as members. The result is a 230-page
work published in Portuguese last October that is attracting media
attention all over the world.
For two weeks this was No. 8 on Brazil's bestseller list, and the title
is among the top 10 sellers in big bookstores in various capitals. The
authors are already entertaining ideas about making a movie of the
book. Twenty thousand have been sold already, a significant number for
the Brazilian market. Lauand told OhmyNews International that
publishers in South Korea, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, Croatia and
Thailand, among others, have shown some interest in bringing out the
Dan Brown's popular, "The Da Vinci Code," sensationalizes Opus Dei, as
opposed to the authors of "Opus Dei - Os Bastidores." Disciplining by
self-flagellation and the use of a belt made from cilice to mortify the
flesh, although substantiated, is not the most serious problem caused
by Opus Dei in the lives of its members.
Sustained in a free-for-all power struggle within the Catholic Church
and society at large, Opus Dei has become an end in itself. The duty of
members is to raise funds for food, to pay center accounts and other
expenditures as appointed by the directors, and to keep other members
under surveillance. Members must work to convince other teenagers to
become Opus Dei members too and lead 'study groups' that serve as a
When a man or a woman becomes an Opus Dei member he/she must
immediately make a vow of chastity and poverty forevermore. Any
questioning of this vocation "will be punished with an eternity in
hell," according to one Opus Dei harangue.
The initiate will not become a priest or nun, but will study and work
according to a very strict schedule laid down by the directors of the
center where he/she will live, handing over all earnings to the Order.
Even checks must be signed over to the center's directors.
An Opus Dei member cannot have a cell phone or buy clothing without
prior permission of the directors. They can't eat anything between
meals. They can't phone their families or visit their parents, even
when sick or needing help, without applying to the directors. They must
divulge everything they think and feel to the directors, even as
insignificant as a colleague smiling at them. To question the vocation
is something almost unforgivable.
They must renounce their blood relations to enter the "supernatural"
family, meaning those who live in a center. They can watch TV only once
a week, and then only news programs censored beforehand. The newspapers
and magazines they read arrive in their hands having been censored.
Some photos may be censored as "sensual," and ideological articles
critical of the Order are off-limits as well. Movies are edited. They
can't surf alone on the Internet. If some member opens a browser,
he/she must type only the URL he/she wants to visit, and another member
must see the content on the screen.
They can't buy or read any book without asking the center's director
for permission. When the Catholic Church abolished the Index Librorium
Prohibitorum, which was imposed in the Middle Ages, Opus Dei instituted
its own Index, blacklisting authors like Jose Saramago, James Joyce,
Umberto Eco, Machado de Assis and 99 percent of philosophers since Rene
Descartes, such as Kant, Heidegger, Hegel, etc.
The classification of these books can vary from level one --
unrestricted, to level six -- morally forbidden. This way of
classifying books was inherited from the dictatorship of Francisco
Franco in Spain. (Opus Dei was created during the same "franquismo"
period in Spain by a priest, Josemaria Escriva, on Oct. 2, 1928). Today
the Order has 84,000 members in 61 countries.
Subjected to a daily routine of hours of prayer, ice-cold showers,
trying to sleep on a hard wooden board once a week, selling the Opus
Dei publication called "Quadrante" in Brazil, putting in a lot of work
at the prelacy centers and a total negation of one's own desires and
personal needs, members present many kinds of disorders: depressive,
gastro-intestinal, etc., relating to deep physical and mental
exhaustion. Doctors attached to the centers -- Opus Dei members
themselves -- prescribe medications, some very inappropriate. Often,
when a member decides to leave the prelacy, he/she will suffer mental
and emotional upheavals, e.g., personality disorders and affective
instability; and his/her financial condition will be seriously
On page 45, a deposition from an ex-member reveals: "I know many
unhappy and disturbed women who still remain in Opus Dei, giving
everything to this organization. I personally witnessed self-mutilation
by some of these people, and I still can hear their stifled cries
during the night. The oppression and upheavals at mealtimes were
routine. Some auxiliary members, for physical reasons, could not work
any longer, and had been banished, without explanation, money or any
place to go."
Leaving Opus Dei
Considering the exceptional success of "Opus Dei: Os Bastidores" and
the large amount of mail received by the authors, one of them, Jean
Lauand, created a "Frequent Asked Questions" website about the book. On
this site he comments on the difficulty involved in deciding to leave
the Order and abandon the prelacy. Lauand cites an interview given by
the global "big-boss," Javier Echevarria, on the Order's official Web
site. Someone asked him:
"Is there is some pressure against a person who wants to leave Opus
And Mr. Echevarria's reply:
"No pressure, absolutely! The doors are open to whoever wants get out
and are closed to whoever wants to become a member."
In fact, when a member decides to leave Opus Dei he/she suffers more
ideological pressure. His/her behavior is compared to that of a
traitor, who will be completely unhappy in this life and for all
eternity. Even the little things, e.g., drinking a glass of water, will
be something as bitter as poison. Lauand also asks how an ex-member can
start a life over again at 30, 40 or 50 years of age with no money and
few friends -- even the network of friends is controlled by Opus Dei.
Lauand compares leaving the Order to abandoning a drug addiction or
leaving the mafia.
The idea of writing a book like this started when the authors, working
on a Web site for ex-members, perceived that society needed to be
informed about what happens inside Opus Dei. Maybe, apparent approval
by the Catholic Church was granted because the Vatican is not aware of
the barbarity that happens in the centers.
Another goal of this book is to help these ex-members restart their
lives, encouraging them into thinking about abandoning the prelacy and
showing them that life as a normal person is not bitter as poison.
The last pages of the book are dedicated to initiating legal measures
to alert the Catholic Church about the Order's real activities and to
bring to justice an organization that has been destroying many lives
around the world.
After this book was published, the first about Opus Dei by Brazilian
authors, a member's mother, Elisabeth Castejon Lattaro Silberstein,
wrote "Opus Dei? The false God's workmanship: An alert to the Catholic
Family," which was set for release on Dec. 12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
© 2005 Ohmynews
You may find more information about
Opus Dei ex-members:
http://www.opuslivre.org/ In Portuguese
The Book - Opus Dei - Os Bastidores
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