Saturday, January 12, 2019

Opus Dei, Its Wealth, Power, and Widespread Hidden Influence: A Primer of Informative Resources

I'd like to propose the following — an intuition of mine, rather than a proven conclusion:

A primary reason the John McCloskey story was kept under wraps for so long: more than one leading Catholic journalist has cozy connections to Opus Dei — though membership in the group can be concealed, kept secret, so it's impossible to ascertain how many or even what particular Catholic journalists may have such cozy connections. The reach of this secretive right-wing group with much wealth and ties to the rich and powerful is wider than many people recognize. 

Because some influential Catholic journalists will not touch Opus Dei — they know how much power, wealth, and influence it has — I'd propose that the secular media inform themselves about this secretive right-wing Catholic group with tentacles everywhere. What many in the Catholic media will not do, mainstream media outlets could do, if they wished, vis-a-vis reporting on this group in the wake of the John McCloskey story. The following are some resources for informing oneself about Opus Dei that I've recommended in postings in the past on this blog:

1. An indispensable resource: Michael Walsh's Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Powerful Secretive Society within the Catholic Church (NY: HarperCollins, 1992 and 2004). 

2. Frank Cocozzelli has published important work on Opus Dei: 

As Frank notes, Opus Dei appears to have an intentional strategy to create schism within the Catholic church, to purge the church of "dissident" Catholics who promote the collegial model of church set forth by Vatican II and the social justice teachings of the church. 

3. Michael Bayly, "The Catholic Right's Era of 'Constructive Schism'", focusing on John McCloskey. 

Sullentrop notes McCloskey's focus on elites, on cultivating ties to elite circles, which, as he indicates, is a "hallmark of Opus Dei." 

5. James Martin, "Opus Dei in the United States." 

Father Martin notes that Opus Dei is the only personal prelature in the Catholic church, a designation that gives it the status of religious communities that can operate freely across geographical boundaries. This geographic fluidity helps to explain something that concerns many critics of Opus Dei: namely, how does an ostensibly lay movement acquire such freedom, status, and influence, influencing secular political spheres from the very top of society in multiple places? 

Truszkovsky points to strong indicators of Opus Dei's ties to influential anti-gay groups in the United States like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). She notes that NOM has shared its offices with the Witherspoon Institute, identified by Opus Dei Awareness Network as an Opus Dei affiliate. Witherspoon's president Luis Tellez was a founding board member of the National Organization for Marriage board, and is an Opus Dei member. It has long been thought that Opus Dei is a major financial contributor to NOM, which is non-transparent re: its financial backers.

7. Colleen Kochivar-Baker, "Stuck on Rewind." 

Colleen notes the thick ties between Opus Dei and the Vatican Bank. As she notes, a simple google search turns up a wealth of conerning information about those ties to the Vatican Bank. One might add that it's important to note, too, that the recently resigned director of the Vatican press office Greg Burke is an Opus Dei member, and that Jack Valero of Catholic Voices in England, who handled the media with Austin Ivereigh when Pope Benedict came to England, is an Opus Dei member — as several members of the U.S. Supreme Court are also thought to be. 

A strategy of the Catholic right following the McCloskey revelations is to argue that McCloskey and Opus Dei wield far less influence than Cardinal McCarrick and the so-called "lavender mafia" do in the Catholic church and the secular sphere. This argument is counterintuitive if not downright mendacious: the wealth, power, and influence of Opus Dei translate into strong protection for the group, its members, and its secrets — secrets including just how much hidden influence it has over governments in various parts of the world.

8. A final significant resource: the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN) website, which gathers abundant first-hand testimony from former members intent to alert others to the considerable behind-the-scenes influence Opus Dei exerts on secular governments through hidden channels.

(P.S. For an addendum to the list above, please see this subsequent posting.)

The graphic: Opus Dei's U.S. headquarters in New York City, acquired at the cost of $69 million in 2001. The photo was uploaded by Thomas S. Major to Wikimedia with permission for online sharing.

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