New and not so New

I wrote this letter to the editor of the Inquirer which he promptly printed: it just took three days. It looks like it will take time for people to understand what Opus Dei really is:

I would like to make some comments regarding the article about an Opus Dei member tutoring Pope Francis in English (Front Page, 1/11/15) by Lito Zulueta.

As a priest-member of Opus Dei myself, I think two points cited about the Opus Dei in the article should be clarified—in the interest of truth and fairness.

First, Opus Dei is described as “a Catholic group of mostly laymen who take religious vows, including celibacy.” A little research in the Internet, but especially one tapping official sources, will tell us that Opus Dei is a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church. The article could have enlightened the people about this new juridical figure of the Church, which is not so new after all because it has been in existence since the Second Vatican Council.

Moreover, the members of Opus Dei do not take “religious vows.” They do not take vows at all. Even as some members commit themselves to remain celibate for the sake of dedicating themselves full-time to apostolic work, they do so without taking vows.

Second, the article stated that “Opus Dei has always taken orthodox positions that have been called ‘ultraconservative,’ positions that often clash with those of the more liberal Jesuits. The group has likewise been smeared by the liberal secular media for its alleged secretiveness and elitism.”

In fairness to the author, I must say that he balanced this view of Opus Dei by stating: “In his 2005 book ‘Opus Dei,’ American Vatican journalist John Allen looked into the accusations against the group and found that it didn’t deserve the infamy that the popular media had consigned it to.”

I would just like to add that the members of Opus Dei strive to take their Christian calling seriously and such a resolve includes the desire to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church in matters related to the faith and to morals. If such a position might be called conservative or ultraconservative, such labels are unfortunate because they give matters of faith and morals, which are not political in nature, a political color or overtone.

Some have described Pope Francis as “progressive” and “liberal,” thinking that he would change Church teachings about homosexuality during the last extraordinary synod on the family. They were utterly disappointed, and now for them Pope Francis is just another conservative. Liberal, conservative, progressive, left, right and center are irrelevant categories when it comes to positions held by people in relation to faith and morals. What really matters is to find out if one is in the truth or not.

The members of Opus Dei know that when it comes to matters outside of faith and morals, they are completely free to adopt the position they see most appropriate. I have seen members take on diverse sides and views in things related to economics, politics, science, philosophy and even theology. They know that where the Church has not defined or made any pronouncements on, they can take a position from the widest possible range of views and stands, with complete personal responsibility for whichever they choose.

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