Letter to the Pope

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This letter was written by an ODAN supporter before the canonization of the Founder of Opus Dei, Escrivá, which took place on October 6, 2002.


Your Holiness,

We ask you to open your heart and mind to us, and to believe that we are deeply in earnest, for we are aware that in asking you for a hearing on the grave matter of Opus Dei and the canonization of its founder, Monsignor Josemaria Escriva, we speak as witnesses before Truth itself-Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Just One, who searches the reins and hearts and from whom nothing is hidden. We pray, of course, that Monsignor Escriva is at peace with God, but worry that canonization will promote him, as well as Opus Dei, as a model for holiness. We appeal to you now, at this late hour, because all earlier efforts have been ignored, and because the peril is profound. We believe that the truth we speak should be heard and acted on for the sake of the Gospel, the consciences of the faithful, the honor of the Church, and the future authority of the Papacy.

Because we believe that this truth has in large part been kept from you, we set forth our testimony now to warn you about the danger to the faith posed by unjustified reverence for the man you plan soon to canonize and by the highly questionable organization he created in his own image and spirit. We speak not only from deep and wounding personal experience but on behalf of other people from a great many nations who have been deceived, mistreated, and dehumanized as members of Opus Dei. Many of them, by the grace of God, have found it possible to leave in good conscience, but many others continue to suffer grievously within Opus Dei.

These members of an organization calling itself holy live and work not in the joyful spirit St. Paul calls "the glorious liberty of the children of God," but in a mind-controlled parody of Christianity and in the shadow of an idol whom they call "the Father" and "our Father." We are well aware of your regard for him, and know how shocking and implausible these charges must seem to anyone unacquainted with the darker side of Monsignor Escriva and Opus Dei. But we also know these charges are true. We therefore pray that that truth you praised so memorably in Veritatis Splendor will speak through you even at this late hour and prevent this terrible and unthinkable travesty from taking place.

In that celebrated encyclical, you wrote, "man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it toward idols." That is especially true, your Holiness, when the idol wears a monsignor's purple, makes benevolent public pronouncements, and presents himself as a champion of Catholic orthodoxy--even as he alienates children from their parents, even as he seeks prestige and honors, even as he fosters a cult of personality and promotes his own canonization.

No doubt, your Holiness, you have both witnessed and been told about a very different Opus Dei. You have seen its other side-its zeal and efficiency, its apparent financial generosity, its help in combating communism in Poland and its contribution to countering pro-abortion propaganda in the developing nations. Yet such efforts only bring to mind the efforts of another Catholic organization, the Sillon, which a century ago won high praise before earning a firm and lasting rebuke from the great Pius X. With Opus Dei, as with the Sillon, the rod of correction is sorely needed. None of the good that individual members, or the organization, may have done or may now be doing can begin to compensate for the terrible harm it has done by dividing families, by turning many parents of members away from the Church, by its tireless and unscrupulous campaign to gain power and wealth, by the moral damage it does to its members through its culture of secrecy and dishonesty, and by the psychological damage it inflicts through depersonalization and emotional deprivation. As Monsignor Escriva advised Opus Dei members, "…eat, sleep and forget that you exist."

Meanwhile, all of this goes on even as Opus Dei claims to be, in the words of Monsignor Escriva, "the predilect of God," an organization benevolently intended for "men and women of all races who endeavor to love and serve God in and through their daily work." This is not the splendor of truth, this is the rhetoric of an organization that goes to extraordinary lengths to suppress any criticism, that cultivates in its members a dangerously intense loyalty to itself and to its founder, that behind its facade of orthodoxy is slowly insinuating itself into the highest levels of Church government, and that it represents a grave future danger to the integrity and unity of the Catholic Church.

We stand against this organization because we are faithful Catholics who refuse to call evil good or good evil. Just as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of a cloud of heavenly witnesses watching over the children of faith, so do we, your supplicants, speak on behalf of a cloud of earthly witnesses. They include priests and professors, doctors and lawyers, cooks and maids. They include people who knew Monsignor Escriva intimately and who can witness to his arrogance and malevolent temper, his unseemly quest for a title (Marquis of Peralta), his dishonesty, his indifference to the poor, his love of luxury and ostentation, his lack of compassion, and his idolatrous devotion to Opus Dei.

Regrettably, your Holiness, you have not yet heard these witnesses. Neither has any ecclesiastic body in Rome, including the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, which is charged with separating truth from error in the vital matter of deciding who shall be pronounced worthy to be called a heavenly intercessor. Quite simply, these witnesses have not been heard from because Opus Dei and its sympathizers have prevented it. The office of Promoter of the Faith (or Devil's Advocate) has been eliminated, with the result that, just when there is the greatest need for it, there is no one to say, "Let us now hear from those witnesses who think Monsignor Escriva should not be raised to the altars." And so now, as the days race toward the sixth of October and grave scandal to the Church, it remains for you, Holy Father, to be that Promoter of the Faith and to hear the faithful voices speaking out of that cloud of witnesses.

Having no fear of the truth, having no need to hide it or keep it secret in the manner of Opus Dei, we urge you to invite not only witnesses from our ranks to testify in your presence, but representatives from Opus Dei as well. Then let us see who will dare to swear falsely. It will not be any of those who have signed this letter, your Holiness, for we know that in the perfect will of God the truth we speak cannot ultimately be defeated, no matter how clever the opposition's lies, how artful the masquerade, or how long and persistently the deception has been carried forward.

As you well know, the Church is even now living through a nightmarish scandal because of the involvement of renegade bishops and priests in crimes against nature and crimes against children. But horrifying though it is, that scourge will pass. The canonization of Monsignor Escriva, on the other hand, will never pass. It will offend God. It will tarnish the Church forever. It will rob the saints of their holy distinction. It will call into question the credibility of all canonizations during your Pontificate. It will undermine the future authority of the Papacy.

The Church is being drawn to the edge of a precipice and is as near to it as the calendar is near to October 6. We therefore implore you, Holy Father, as your sheep and God's servants, to draw back, to seek out the testimony that has been kept from you, to reaffirm the mark of the Church as the pillar and ground of truth, and to trust that heaven will make a way out of this terrible difficulty even as it helps you restore the splendor of truth in the beauty of holiness.

In hope and fidelity, we await your answer.


Comments received on the Letter to the Pope regarding the canonization of Escrivá

"I doubt that the Pope receives this letter or any kind of this information. Somehow in Europe or in Rome now people should organize some kind of manifestation to be seen on TV. In a newspaper from Sao Paulo a reporter interviewing a polish theologian asked if it was true that the Pope was pressed by Opus Dei members. He answered that a fragile Pope was of interest by a religious group that wanted to govern the church more than the pope. No news for me because I felt this a long time ago. I agree with the letter because my family and I experienced all the sorrows that OD can cause to a family." -- Brazil

"I am concerned about the harm that the canonization of Josemaria Escriva will do to the reputation of the whole process of beatification and canonization." -- Dr. John Roche, Linacre College, Oxford

"Having had a genuine Ignatian formation, I have always considered Opus Dei to be a cheap imitation of the Society of Jesus, with its founder suffering from a Jesuit complex. Alas with the Society in decline, impostors have arisen to take their position. Whereas one school of spirituality plants the seed and allows the plant to grow naturally under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit with minimal human direction the other hothouses its raw material in a controlled environment so that everything coming off the production line looks alike and talks alike. We are living in an era of diabolical disorientation with Holy Mother Church appearing to endorse the spiritual cloning of its sons and daughters in a cult-like organization by canonizing its founder. Well we'll soon have a saint, a patron saint perhaps of quality control in an age of mass production. Immaculate Heart of Mary, our hope and our refuge pray for us." -- Canada

"This is a crime that is the greatest travesty in the history of the Church. Please stop the canonization of Monsignor Escriva." -- United States of America

"Please re-open the position of Devil's Advocate. This wonderful office ensures a thorough examination even during the tumult of well-meaning devotion." -- United States of America

"Please look at the irregularities surrounding this controversial canonization." -- Dianne DiNicola, Executive Director of ODAN, United States of America

"The pernicious effect on those Catholics both who are in favor of this canonization and against this canonization will be the same. Their faith will be placed in jeopardy. The Catholic Church -- indefectible -- will not and cannot be assailed by this perversion, but the faith of so many -- the very salvation of so many -- is bound to be lost. May Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary help us persevere in the true faith in the aftermath of this crisis." -- United States of America

"We find the canonization proceedings to be outrageously rigged, dishonest. That can only be the work of Satan as dishonesty cannot be of God." -- Mr. and Mrs. Kramer, United States of America

"How can we allow such money changers in the temple when our veterans have no place to lay their head?" -- Former VA Chaplain and War Widow

"Please read this letter very carefully. It is very serious not to listen to what is said here." -- France

"It's not possible that a real saint would build his own marble magnificent mausoleum as did Mgr. Escriva." -- Eric Jacqmin, Poland

"If Escriva is canonized, the many Sedevacantis factions will be using this canonization to prove their position because canonizations are infallible." -- United States of America

"Popes have been known to change their minds at the last minute down through the ages. The one that spings to mind is the Pope Vigilius. He was elected by political alignment and intrigue AND the mysterious deaths of his two pedecessors popes Agapetus and Silverius. He was allied with the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora who wished to promote the monophysite heresy in Constaninople. Once he was elected pope however, could not commit the heretical act of reinstating the known heretical bishop Anthimius. Grace caused him to repent and refuse to do the will of his promoters. Maybe we ought to invoke Vigilius, St.Peter and all those who have held his chair. Perhaps Fr. Escriva should be made patron of sycophantism, prestige aquisition and dissimulation via the mass media." -- United States of America

"Let's get back to the values of Vatican II. Opus Dei is an evil organization which -- if we allow it -- will destroy the church." -- Mona Millan, Canada

"My son's association with Opus Dei as a numerary -- fortunately short-lived -- caused my wife, now passed away, and myself much anguish. We found it incredible that we who had brought up our son so that he was acceptable to OD should suffer as we did and be ignored by OD. The most abhorent factor was un-informed consent -- he had no idea what he was getting into. Fortunately he did not break off all communication with us, saw the light, and is now happily married and has a son. Unfortunately my dear wife did not live to see her grandson." -- Canada

"I am deeply concerned by the attitude of the Opus Dei to deny that psychological and social harm can be caused by mind control methods used by groups commonly known as cults. Opus Dei and their sympathizers follow a theory of the Italian lawyer Massimo Introvigne which says that anybody critizising a group for other than theological matters is an atheistic enemy of every religion. This was expressed by a brochure edited in autumn 1997 by the Opus Dei in Vienna and also in the book Opus Dei: Un indigne, by Vittorio Messori who in chapter 3 of this book quoted Introvigne through several pages. Unfortunately, the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schoenborn, supported this theory and contributed to the brochure by an article where he also referred to Massimo Introvigne and to Gordon Melton. The latter even defended the AUM Shinrikyo cult known by the Sarin poison gas attack in 1995 in the subway of Tokyo. This theory is in strict contradiction to a report about the cult problem edited in 1986 by the Vatican and unnecessary to say it seems to be a means to hide that Opus Dei itself practices the methods which had been critizised by the named Vatican ducument. I have experienced myself what it means if a dear child falls victim to such methods of infantilising and depersonalisation, which also have been propagated by the founder of the Opus Dei, and I have dedicated the rest of my life to warn against such methods and against any groups using them." -- Friedrich Griess, Vice President of FECRIS.

"Do not let Opus Dei run the Vatican anymore. It's the wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't let the sanctification of Balaguer happen this October 6, 2002. I was a member for years and I know Maria del Carmen Tapia is right." -- Clara Frame, United States of America

"I read Michael Walsh's book some years ago and have continued to read excerpts or articles regarding Opus Dei. It is a scary organization and so out of place post Vatican II and the present." -- United States of America

"I wholeheartedly approve of this Letter to the Pope, and of the work being done to highlight the nefarious activities of Opus Dei. It would seem that the Pope, of all people, would be capable of discerning these things for himself, but as it has been in previous ages, sometimes the Holy Father has a blind spot resultant from the complacency of the Faithful: he relies on grace which is granted to him by the fervency of the Faithful's prayers and merits. This is a commendable work, and therefore counts toward the category of "merits", for it is the kind of thing that virtuous men (and women) of the past would have done. It is my prayer, therefore, that this campaign be graced with success, and even at this late date may have the effect of preventing the planned canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer or, failing that, be instrumental in establishing the historical fact of an outspoken opposition to it." -- United States of America

"I have already worked in a company that belonged to Opus Dei. I do not think that the founder had good doctrine. The canonization would be a scandal." -- Brazil

"I am a humble servant as are we all in the service of the King of Kings. I would like to point out that it is for God himself to decide who should and should not be given any type or kind of accolade - here we have a man who has taken opportunity time and time again to put himself up as God's mouth and revelation to the people in his care and his control. He has taken them and used them to his own personal gain -- in this he has denied the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made himself the one who is central and moved God out of the picture. To Canonise this man would be to the determine of the whole of the Body of Christ and put the Roman Catholic church in a very dark area with those outside of the Church who have had to pick up the broken and damaged men and women who have come through this organisation that glorifies a man and not God. I am reminded of the incident of Annanias & Sephira - He who lies to the Holy Spirit will have to answer to Him. I can say no more other than to make him out to be a special saint as is proposed is to bring the Church and its leaders into disrepute and in this day and age the Church cannot afford to be seen in this light. Take heed you who place men about the Lord of Hosts as you will answer to Him who is Lord of all." -- Ray O'Donnell, UK

"As an ex-numerary member, I fully agree with the letter. May the Holy Spirit illuminate our Pope in order to prevent that M. Escriva be included among many Saints that serve the Church with their lives." -- Argentina

"Opus Dei will have the holy founder that they have been searching for, but The Catholic Church will have the antithesis of an organization truly following the life of Jesus of Nazareth." -- Spain

"Opus Dei is an insiduous quasi-facist organisation that brooks no independent thought and has no place in the Roman Catholic Church. Josemaria Escriva has no place in the family of saints. God has damned him to hell." -- Hong Kong

"As a full-time worker for the church in Australia for many years I find the activities of many of the Opus Dei followers unchristian as well as anti-Catholic in their secretiveness and their own personal actions. For this reason among others I am very against his canonization. I feel that it will leave much heartache in the future church and will end up being a reflection of poor judgement on the current powers of the Roman Curia. We only have to go back in church history to find such hurried actions cause much heartache for later Catholics.Yours in Christ." -- Barry Sinclair, Australia

"This man was a fanatic. Don't canonise him. No wonder there was a reformation."-- Geoffrey Burnet, New Zealand

"This is October 6. This is a terrible day where the Catholic Church has been stained by this process and canonization of the man that has created a monster and where what used to be a holy system has been prostituted. May God have mercy for having a demon among the list of Holy Saints." -- Ecuador

"I read this after the fact. Josemaria Escriva has been cannonized. It was a mistake, but in a religion of redemption, there are no mistakes that can be fatal to the body of Christ. Bearing witness and continuing to bear witness to the concept of new wine in new wineskins and individual conscience and a true reciprocity between community and personhood requires that the universal body of Christ continue to work for something more in tune with the life of Christ and the witness of Christ." -- United States of America