OPUS DEI, BY JOHN L. ALLEN
[John L. Allen Jr. is an award-winning Vatican correspondent of CNN and the National Catholic Reporter and National Public Radio. He is the author of The Rise of Benedict XVI and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. His Internet column, The Word from Rome, is considered by knowledgeable observers to be the best single source of insights on Vatican affairs in the English language.
To undertake his study -Opus Dei: secrets and power inside the Catholic Church, ed. Randon House & Allen Lane, 400 pp.-, John Allen visited Opus Dei outposts around the world, conducting 300 hours of interviews with members and ex-members.
The autor also lived for five days in an Opus Dei residence and had access to high-ranking officials and private correspondence from the organization's archives.
Allen divides his study into four sections: essentials about Opus Dei; a long look inside Opus Dei; questions about Opus Dei; and a summary evaluation.
The autor has produced an exhaustive work, packed with endless facts. This is an serious book: "The method Allen follows is to take the case against Opus Dei and sift it. Thus, he takes an article published in the magazine America in 1995 which says the statutes of Opus Dei are secret. Next he interviews the article’s author. Then he finds that the statutes are all in a book printed by an Opus Dei affiliated publisher, and there is a translation on the internet too. He also quotes a prohibition of secrecy in the statutes of Opus Dei themselves, approved by the Vatican in 1982."
The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, commonly known as Opus Dei (Latin for "Work of God"), is a Roman Catholic prelature, composed of a prelate, secular priests, and lay people, whose stated aim is to contribute to the evangelizing mission of the Church by spreading the message that everyone is called to become a saint and an apostle. The Opus Dei Prelature "encourages Christians of all social classes to live consistently with their faith in the middle of the ordinary circumstances of their lives."
Readers who are curious about the Opus Dei will find Allen's book most informative.
We post here the review published on The Tablet.]
#224 Varios Categoria-Varios: Etica y Antropologia
by Christopher Howse
In 1987 Cardinal Hume wrote to the Archbishop of Seoul, who had asked if it was a good idea to let Opus Dei start up in his diocese. “I know that Opus Dei contains many good people and does good work,” he replied, “but – strictly between ourselves – I would always be cautious in their regard. I don’t like the secretiveness that seems to surround their activities, and I have suspicions about pressure that can at times be put on youths.” This previously unpublished detail on the late Cardinal’s thinking is typical of the spadework put in by John Allen, the Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter, in this determinedly unsensationalist but deeply intriguing study.
In my experience the most frequent reason given for disliking Opus Dei among bien- pensant English Catholics is that it is “right-wing” in ecclesiastical terms. John Allen does not see it that way. “It’s not quite right to call this a ‘traditional’ alternative to a more ‘liberal’ post-conciliar Catholicism, since from a historical point of view Opus Dei is not traditional at all.” Indeed, he goes so far as to say that its founder’s “insistence that the real work of bringing the gospel to the world is to be carried out by lay people through their secular occupation marks something of a Copernican shift for Catholicism”.