Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Two More Valuable Resources re: Opus Dei: Betty Clermont's and Penny Lernoux's Books

I'd like to add two valuable resources to the primer of books and articles about Opus Dei I posted this past weekend. That primer was not intended by any means to be an exhaustive list of the wealth of good commentary on Opus Dei that one can easily find by a Google search or a conventional search of library resources. It was, in fact, a recycling of something I had shared in the past, written for a specific purpose at that time. Because of its contextual nature, it missed some resources I did not think to share, but now want to recommend, after a good comment by Betty Clermont spurred my memory of these items:

1. The first item on the list is, in fact, Betty Clermont's book The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2009). Here's an excerpt from the book's description at the Amazon link I have just provided:

Paul Weyrich, once referred to as the most powerful man in America, and fellow Catholics Terry Dolan and Richard Viguerie, along with Howard Phillips, a Jew who had converted to evangelical Christianity, established the Moral Majority, to be led by televangelist Jerry Falwell, to energize their Christian base into political activism and get out the vote. Weyrich, along with Catholic Edwin J. Feulner Jr., also founded the Heritage Foundation, the prototype of the right-wing think tank, to produce intellectual propaganda for the movement. Funding to pay religious leaders along with think tanks, journals and media outlets, came through Knights of Malta William Simon, Nixon's Treasury Secretary, and William Casey, Reagan's CIA Director. The Knights were members of a clandestine international group who, along with the CIA, perpetrated acts of terrorism and the overthrow of legitimate governments justified as defense against the Soviet Union and Red China but, in fact, protected their own wealth and power. Opus Dei-backed Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI lent moral authority to neo-conservative mendacity, and by new appointments, filled the ranks with like-minded prelates. Neo-Catholic journalists Michael Novak, Fr. John Richard Neuhaus and George Weigel rationalized immoral projects with religious rectitude. Their vocabulary and formulations were amplified through the neo-con network and repeated by other religious leaders and politicians. It would change not just the face of American Catholicism, but the face of social policy in the United States as it exists to this day.

Note, following that description section, the fine blurbs by Robert Blair Kaiser, Jason Berry, Barry Lynn, Mike Miller, and a number of readers of the book who have reviewed it for Amazon. I highly recommend Betty's book for anyone wanting to understand the role Opus Dei has played and continues to play in the American political sector, and am glad her comment made me realize I had not included this valuable resource in my primer list.

2. Betty's comment pointed to Penny Lernoux's work on Opus Dei. In addition to Betty's work The Neo-Catholics, I also highly recommend Penny Lernoux's People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism (NY: Viking, 1989). Here's a statement by Andrew Greeley cited in that work which has been picked up by the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN) website, in an article written by Joseph I.B. Gonzales about Opus Dei's talking points:

Opus Dei is a devious, antidemocratic, reactionary, semi-fascist institution, desperately hungry for absolute power in the church. It ought to be forced either to come out into the open or be suppressed.

If sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, as Justice Louis Brandeis famously observed, then one should wonder about the penchant of powerful, wealthy groups with tentacles everywhere to try to dodge the light. And about media who permit this to happen…. Shouldn't one?

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