The M+G+R Foundation

The Popes

and

The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei


Guest Document

Excerpts from an article [0] by Lee Penn



PURPOSE and INTRODUCTION

The founder of Communion and Liberation, Msgr. Luigi Guissani, said to Vittorio Messori back around 1984: "we (referring to Communion and Liberation) are the guerrillas, the irregulars, the rock-throwers. We do our part, and sometimes really stir something up. But those people in the Work [Opus Dei], they have the tanks: they are well armored with rubber-coated treads. Nobody has heard of them yet, but they’re here, believe me. And we’ll be talking more and more about them, you’ll see."

It logically follows that the alert citizen of this world - whether Catholic or Jew, Muslim or Hindu - should know as much as possible about this "discreet" group since there is no escaping from their meddling in critical world affairs.

Therefore, we are quoting in this brief document two key sections from the above-cited document authored by Lee Penn, in which the reader can see how the Bishops of Rome have interacted with Escrivá and his brain child - The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei.



CONTENT


+ In favor under Pius XII
+ Out of favor under John XXIII and Paul VI
+ Moving to the center stage under John Paul  II
+ Continued power under Benedict XVI



DETAILS


In favor under Pius XII
 
Opus Dei was in favor under Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958.  During 1943, with World War II at its height, it took less than 6 months for the Vatican to approve creation of Escrivá’s “Priestly Society of the Holy Cross” as an adjunct to Opus Dei.[1]  In 1947, less than 12 months after the founder made the request to Pius XII, the Pope made Opus Dei and its priestly affiliate a “secular pontifical institute.”  This gave the movement what Opus Dei historians describe as “universal juridical standing” and “convenient internal autonomy,” protecting it from “incomprehension and persecution.”[2]  In 1950, Pius XII made the “pontifical institute” status permanent, and approved the movement’s charter and statutes; in 1952, he appointed Cardinal Federico Tedeschini as “Protector” of Opus Dei.[3]  Tad Szulc, a biographer of John Paul II, notes that “very quietly, Opus Dei was acquiring influence all over the world, at strategic points in Church establishments and … very discreetly in political and business circles.” [4]
 
Out of favor under John XXIII and Paul VI
 
However, the movement and its founder were at arm's length (at best) with Popes John XXIII (1958-1963) and Paul VI (1963-1978).  As an Italian newspaper notes, “Between 1967 and 1973, when Opus Dei already numbered 40,000 Catholics, Pope Paul VI refused even to meet Escriva, wanting to draw a clear line between himself and the regime of General Franco in Spain.”[5]  A Catholic journalist, Michael Walsh, has said, “Popes before the present one [John Paul II, at the time Walsh wrote] can hardly be said to have been enthusiastic in their endorsement of Opus, and for every bishop who welcomes Opus into his diocese it is clear that there are many who either will not accept them, or are unhappy at finding them installed in their jurisdiction when they take up their appointments.”[6]  During his lifetime, Escrivá never became a bishop; the four Popes who reigned from 1928 to 1975 (from the establishment of Opus Dei until the founder’s death) did not grant this promotion to him.  Escrivá repaid these popes with public obeisance and private derision.  He said of Pius XII, “Let’s see if he leaves us in peace once and for all, and the Lord God in his infinite mercy takes him to heaven,” and referred to John XXIII as “a hick,” and called Paul VI “an old Jesuit” – which was not a compliment.[7]


Moving to the center stage under John Paul  II
 

With the election of Pope John Paul II in October 1978, Opus Dei came in from the cold.
 
George Weigel said, “Cardinal Karol Wojtyla had long been sympathetic to the Work and had spoken to one of its student centers in Rome during the 1970s.  Opus Dei’s stress on sanctifying the workplace through apostolically committed professional men and women paralleled his own understanding of one of the key themes of Vatican II.”[8]  Opus Dei returned the favor, and began sending funds to Wojtyla’s Polish archdiocese before 1978.[9]  They also published a collection of the speeches that the Cardinal had made when visiting Opus Dei centers.[10]  When Wojtyla went to Rome for the 1978 conclave that would elect him to the Papacy, he went to the Opus Dei headquarters and prayed at Escrivá’s tomb.[11]  (This was one of numerous Roman shrines that he visited.)
 

·       The Pope granted Opus Dei’s long-stalled request for “personal prelature” status in 1982, granting global freedom of action to the movement.  He was fulfilling a promise that he had made secretly to the movement on November 15, 1978 – within the first month of his reign.[12]  The Pope made this decision in the face of negative votes by Italian and French bishops, and opposition by 55 of the 64 Spanish bishops.[13]

 

·       That same year, John Paul II made Álvaro del Portillo, Escrivá’s successor as head of Opus Dei, a bishop.  (Portillo was head of the movement from 1975 until 1994, and had been Escrivá’s closest collaborator for 40 years.[14])  Portillo’s successor, Javier Echevarría, was raised to the episcopate in 1995, the year after he became the head of Opus Dei.

 

·       As noted above, John Paul II hastened Escrivá’s canonization.  By recognizing him as a saint, John Paul II stated that Escrivá is in Heaven, and that his life is a worthy example to the faithful, and that people have gained miraculous results from his intercession on their behalf.  At the least, the beatification and canonization of Escrivá blunts criticism of Opus Dei within the Catholic Church.

 

·       In 1984, John Paul II selected Joaquín Navarro-Valls (a lay Opus Dei numerary since 1960) as his press secretary.  He was part of the Papal inner circle, and (along with Papal secretary Dziwisz) had day-to-day, direct access to the Pontiff.[15]  In April 2005, the press secretary said, “I have been fortunate to be next to him day after day, in his apartment as well as traveling with him – including during his vacations. Many of the photographs that are in circulation where he can be seen in the country, in the latter part of his life, were taken by me.”[16]  Navarro-Valls has been an actor, a psychiatrist and a journalist.  His first non-medical publication was a book, Manipulation in Advertising; this was followed by “two essays in evolutionary psychology.”[17] 

 

      Sandro Magister – an experienced, orthodox Catholic reporter – wrote, “As an editorial promoter, Navarro thought up and in 1994 launched the most widely read and translated book by John Paul II: the interview conducted by Vittorio Messori entitled Crossing the threshold of hope.”[18] The book was published simultaneously in the major world languages.[19]  In 1997, Massimo D’Alema, the leader of the Italian Democratic Party of the Left (the current “moderate” incarnation of the Italian Communist Party) said that Crossing the Threshold of Hope was the one book on his bedside table.[20]  D’Alema – who would go on to become Prime Minister of Italy in 1998-2000 – said that he had been impressed by the Pope’s analysis of the fall of Communism and his insistence that “the society of the future” had to be built around a “quest for values.”[21]  (In the book, John Paul said, “it would be simplistic to say that Divine Providence caused the fall of Communism. In a certain sense Communism as a system fell by itself. It fell as a consequence of its own mistakes and abuses. It proved to be a medicine more dangerous than the disease itself. It did not bring about true social reform, yet it did become a powerful threat and challenge to the entire world. But it fell by itself, because of its own inherent weakness.”[22])

 

      The Papal press secretary has used his skills to manage the news from the Vatican.  Journalist Stefania Rossini says that Navarro-Valls “relies upon his proficiency in conversation, his artfully crafted allure, and the mastery of communication that has allowed him to transform the murky, homespun Vatican press office into a smooth media machine.”[23]  Anglican journalist Ruth Gledhill said of this office, “It is all about spin and control.    It works very much like any political press office. Access is very much given to people who can be trusted to toe the line.”[24]  Navarro-Valls gave preferential treatment to TV reporters; journalists Bernstein and Politi say, “On the TV screen, as the pope and Navarro-Valls well understood, glory would invariably overshadow problems, emotion would overwhelm insight.  And uncomfortable questions from print reporters would be drowned out.”[25] 

 

·       During the Pope’s final year, Cardinal Herranz, an Opus Dei member, “emerged as one of the five or six prelates closest to John Paul.”[26]



Continued power under Benedict XVI

 

It’s a given that Benedict XVI will continue the prior Pope’s strong support for “The Way.” 

 

·       A post-Conclave report indicates that Opus Dei support was critical to Ratzinger’s election this spring: “According to aides to two non-American cardinals, Ratzinger entered the conclave with significant backing: Julian Herranz of Spain, head of the Vatican’s department for interpreting legislative texts; Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Colombia, head of the department in charge of the clergy; and Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. All three have ties to the conservative renewal movement Opus Dei.”[27]  Two months before the Conclave, an orthodox Catholic reporter on Vatican affairs had predicted this outcome: “the Opus Dei cardinal most active in view of the conclave is Julián Herranz    Ratzinger’s leap to the top of the list of candidates for the papacy is also due to him; it took shape at the suppers for cardinals that Herranz organized at Opus Dei’s heavily guarded villa in the Roman countryside.”[28]

 

·       Opus Dei remains prominent in the Pope’s inner circle.  Ratzinger’s personal secretary is a Bavarian priest and expert on canon law, Georg Gänswein.[29]   He has been on Ratzinger’s staff since 1996, and has been his personal secretary since 2003.   (Gänswein also had been “a trusted confidant of the last Pope, who made him a chaplain in 2000.”[30])  Until 2005, Gänswein “taught at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, the Rome university of Opus Dei,”[31] although he is not a member of the movement.[32]  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith includes three Opus Dei advisors, one of whom (Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz) is the movement’s vicar-general, its second in command.[33]

 

·       Benedict XVI has retained Navarro-Valls as his press secretary, even though he does not have “the direct and osmotic relationship that he had with John Paul II. He can no longer permit himself to model and amplify the pope’s gestures, statements, and performance.”[34] (Note, however, that since this article was written in the fall of 2005, Navarro-Valls has stepped down from this post; he resigned on July 11, 2006. Valls' replacement is Father Federico Lombardi, SJ. ]

 

·       On September 14 – the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a solemn Catholic remembrance of the Cross as the sign of Christ’s victory – Benedict XVI blessed a 16-foot statue of Escrivá that has been placed in a niche on the outside wall  of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.[35]  The statue bears coats of arms for John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and joins the 400 saints’ statues that are already at the Basilica.[36]   

 


CONCLUSION


Without the support of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Opus Dei would not have risen to its present influence in the Catholic Church and in the world.
[37]






[0]
The Scandalous Truth About Opus Dei - Part I
[1] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 190.
[2] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 191.
[3] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 191.
[4] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 191.
[5] “Pope Unveils Opus Dei Statue,” Ansa.it, 09/14/05,  printed 09/14/05.
[6] Michael Walsh, Opus Dei, Harper San Francisco, 2004, p. 185.
[7] Maria del Carmen Tapia, Beyond the Threshold: A Life in Opus Dei, Continuum, 1997, p. 269.
[8] George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 450.
[9] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 358.
[10] Peggy Lernoux, People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism, Penguin Books, 1989, p. 35.
[11] Tad Szulc, Pope John Paul II, Pocket Books, 1995, p. 358.
[12] Jonathan Kwitny, Man of the Century: The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II, Henry Holt and Co., 1997, pp. 303, 305.
[13] Jonathan Kwitny, Man of the Century: The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II, Henry Holt and Co., 1997, p. 455.
[14] Josemaría Escrivá, Conversations with Josemaría Escrivá, Scepter, 1968, foreword, p. 8.
[15] George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 449.
[16] Interview with Navarro-Valls, April 17, 2005, published in the Spanish newspaper ABC and excerpted by the M+G+R Foundation, http://www.mgrfoundation.org/JNVedited.html, printed 08/15/05.
[17] Stefania Rossini, “The Pope’s Spokesman, in his own words,” Catholic World Report, August/September 2005, p. 44; see also Navarro-Valls’ resume on his web site, http://www.navarro-valls.info/biography.html, printed 09/15/05.
[18] Sandro Magister, “The Vatican and Vaticanologists. A Very Special Kind of Journalism,” www.chiesa, June 7, 2005, http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=32668&eng=y, printed 06/08/05.
[19] George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 736.
[20] George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harper Collins, 2001, pp. 804-805.
[21] George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 805.
[22] John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, on-line edition, “Was God At Work In The Fall Of Communism?,” http://www.catholic.net/RCC/POPE/HopeBook/chap20.html, printed 09/27/05.
[23] Stefania Rossini, “The Pope’s Spokesman, in his own words,” Catholic World Report, August/September 2005, p. 42.
[24] Julia Day and Jason Deans, “Slick PR operation accompanies Pope's passing,” MediaGuardian.co.uk, April 6, 2005,
http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1453219,00.html, printed 09/02/05.
[25] Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, His Holiness, Penguin Books, 1996, p. 400.
[26] Tony Barber, “Rise of Opus Dei has liberals concerned over succession,” Financial Times, March 5, 2005, http://news.ft.com/cms/s/c80da488-8d1c-11d9-9d37-00000e2511c8.html, printed 03/05/05.
[27] Paul Wilkes, “When in Rome,” BeliefNet, April 20, 2005, http://www.beliefnet.com/story/163/story_16397_1.html, printed 09/10/05.
[28] Sandro Magister, “Lent in the Vatican: The Pope, the Curia, and the Conclave,” www.chiesa, February 11, 2005, http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/printDettaglio.jsp?id=22533&eng=y, printed 09/17/05.
[29] Paul Badde, “Georg Gänswein: Soul- & Bodyguard,” Inside the Vatican, July 2005, p. 38.
[30] Luke Harding and Barbara McMahon, “Thou Shalt Not Drool,” UK Guardian, August 23, 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1554309,00.html, printed 08/25/05.
[31] Sandro Magister, “The First Three Months of Benedict XVI: New Pope, New Style,” www.Chiesa, July 15, 2005, http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=36194&eng=y, printed 09/10/05.
[32] John Allen, “The Word From Rome,” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2005, http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word071505.htm, printed 07/15/05.
[33] John Allen, “The Word From Rome,” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2005, http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word071505.htm, printed 07/15/05.
[34] Sandro Magister, “The First Three Months of Benedict XVI: New Pope, New Style,” www.Chiesa, July 15, 2005, http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=36194&eng=y, printed 09/10/05.
[35] EWTN News, “POPE WILL RETURN TO ROME ON SEPTEMBER 28,” August 31, 2005, http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=60108, printed 09/10/05.  The statue is 5 meters tall.
[36] “Pope Unveils Opus Dei Statue,” Ansa.it, 09/14/05, http://ansa.it/main/notizie/awnplus/english/news/2005-09-14_1264282.html, printed 09/14/05.

[37]  Influence of Opus Dei in Power Centers of the World



Published on February 20th, 2011 - Memorial of
Our Lady of Tears


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