14. Judas in Action

Judas the Iscariot has gone down in history not because of his possible virtues as an apostle of Jesus Christ, but because of the secret denunciation he made of his Master that led to the arrest of the Messiah. In such a compact and hermetic circle as Opus Dei is, everyone wants to be an informer, a public and private accuser, a snitch, a confidant of their own closest brothers and sisters. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that informing on the truth in Opus Dei is a practice and a "virtue" so that the followers always live in an atmosphere of mutual and reciprocal distrust, fear, insecurity and isolation, all of which are extremely important for keeping the sect member in chains, in a permanent manner.

Opus Dei pays careful attention to what it calls constant and persistent spiritual direction, which binds and marks each and every one of its members. This is complemented, on a weekly basis, by what it calls "sharing of confidences", which helps to configure a rigid hierarchical-spiritual order. (151)

On the other hand, the denunciation of the brother by the brother, the embarrassment and shame of being singled out by one's nearest neighbor, is a rule and an obligation laid down in the statutes and regulations of the Work itself. It is a common and habitual practice, fomented, encouraged and praised by those in charge of the organization.

"The weekly sharing of confidences" is a compulsory talk between the member and his director (152) in which the member must open up fully and express without scruples or reservations his inner dispositions, while at the same time giving an account of all his actions. It is an act of solidarity and docility. With the passage of time, many members are suffocated by this practice, which is parallel to confession. All of it is strengthened by the tactical prohibition to go to confession "outside the house" and even with another priest of the Work who is not the one designated for each house or center.

This "sharing of confidences" is practiced equally between the priests and the lay people who live together in the house. A lay person will be in a position to listen to the personal confidences whispered to him by a priest; a lay person can be the depository of the intimacies of a lay person or of a religious, or vice versa. A note issued by the Fifth General Council of Opus Dei from Rome considered that the role of the priest was not necessary for the "sharing of confidences", and, since then, the director or another member of the local council, and sometimes a select member of the house, are in charge of hearing the "confidences shared". (153) Naturally, the "sharing of confidences" does not exempt one from participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation in which the participation of the priest is obligatory.

For Opus Dei, the "sharing of confidences", besides making known the faults of the member missed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also serves as a psychological outlet (154) that shapes the character of the individual and serves to increase "the spirit of the Work". The Sacrament of Reconciliation, on the other hand, serves for the forgiveness of sins and the settlement of the offense.

Former members of the Work have revealed that the numerary priest performs the functions of a spy and an overseer (155) “by improperly using the Sacrament of Reconciliation to reveal secrets of the faithful that are of interest to the Work”... Numerary members of Opus Dei know that their confessors reveal what they say in the confessional if superiors consider it convenient.

"The sharing of confidences" and the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the leaders of Opus Dei must be "savagely sincere" (156) because, the leaders of the Work argue, to achieve sanctity one has to talk about worries at work, in one's family, about one's internal affairs, and about what happens in the world of politics or the intelligentsia.

It is an admitted fact within Opus Dei that the spiritual guide and confidant, in a meeting with the leaders, analyze the dispositions and problems of each of the numeraries and supernumeraries under their jurisdiction.

Opus Dei's priests are instructed to be discreet so that they only tell the director of the member or the highest ranking hierarchy within the Work what they should know for the "good of souls".

Many members have broken with Opus Dei by suffering great disappointment, once they learned of the violations of secrecy of what they revealed in sharing of confidences.

We cannot resist not transcribing an exceptional testimony, a genuine sharing of confidences, loud and clear, made by a person who was immersed in Opus Dei for years: (157)

“I learned something almost when I was determined to leave the Work, and it contributed very especially to my realization that this was not my place. To have gone through that would have meant losing all my dignity as a person. I learned that both the talks you had with your director and those you had with the priest of the Work (you always have to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with priests of the Work under threat of expulsion) were exchanged. This means that the two tell each other the things that the numeraries have told them to see if they coincide and to follow a joint strategy. In addition to such manipulation of a person's most intimate secrets, the director sends a report of the member's activities to the delegation every week. Based on what you've revealed, the director types up the report - to be read by someone who probably doesn't know you at all -  the sharing of confidences you've made... I discovered that when I went to the director's room to get something. She wasn't there and as the paper, half-written, was sticking out of the machine I wasn't able to overcome the temptation to read what was there.”

“It seemed to me”, she continues, “the most crude, ignoble and anti-Christian thing I had ever seen. What right do you have to manipulate the intimacies of each person when, in order to live well the spirit of the Work, you have no other choice but to do so, because that is what is commanded by the "Father"? The slightest ethical conduct, whether you are a Christian or not, obliges you to respect the secret of a "confidence".”

“How can one call something the Work of God when it falls so low? Only God knows what reports they have on me in the archives in Rome. After having passed my sharing of confidences through so many dirty hands that they didn't even know me since the center goes to the Delegation, from the Delegation to the regional council and from the regional council to the central council, which is in Rome. At this moment, whatever could unite me to the Work was definitely broken.”

“To hide something personal from the directors” - according to Escrivá de Balaguer - “was to have a pact with the devil", and in the Work that "something" includes everything from the most divine to the most human. (158)

Another former numerary confirms that the members of the Work have the serious duty of being savagely sincere with their directors: they must tell them their most intimate desires, their anxieties, their defects, the most fleeting notions, the most hidden thoughts. It is the duty of duties, whatever the cost. But this duty does not presuppose, nor does it need, a counterpart. One must be very sincere, one must say everything, one must open one's heart wide (these are all commandments of the "Father") but one must do so in the face of directors who are full of reservations, who do not have to explain or reason about anything that does not seem convenient or of interest to the subject who is opening his conscience to them.

Walled in by the secrecy that - they say - their position imposes on them, they can say that they do not know the data with which they have been working five minutes before; they can remain silent when faced with a direct question; they can promise a silence that they know beforehand they will not keep.

"The weekly sharing of confidences" is a kind of spiritual balance sheet, while at the same time providing detailed information on various activities. Where does the boundary between religious life and apostolic activity on the one hand and professional and public life on the other pass in such colloquia? Here is a question that must remain unanswered. Among the practices of the Work, the "weekly meeting" does not cease to be one of the most disturbing.

But if sharing of confidences can be disturbing, no less so is public denouncement, the evidence in which they must also, weekly, leave each other, like Judas, but in this case the reward is not thirty denarii of silver, but holiness and heaven in eternity. Public accusation and repression is an unavoidable and inexcusable duty, as laid down in the very Constitutions of Opus Dei which, in article 270, stipulates that “The numerary members and the Oblates will meet every week for the brief circle where defects are corrected, where the means of apostolate are proposed and where everything that can guide our spirit and our specific action is dealt with in a familiar way”. Every member must submit or be called to order.

We read also in the Constitutions of the Work, in article 195, that “The members have the obligation to inform their superiors when the activities of other members threaten to harm the effectiveness of the Institute”. The concern for the effectiveness of the Institute as such is great and the respect for individuals insignificant, who are pushed to the point of denunciation (159) and denunciation among companions for the greater good of the Institute.

If by chance someone fails, he or she will be subject to fraternal correction. They must conform to the rules or be expelled. The spirit of mistrust is total. Your best friend can be your most sadistic enemy; you must be, in turn, ruthless towards those you show your sympathies to.

In Opus Dei, fraternal correction is a genuine form of formation. (160) If a member of the Work  learns of a fault committed by another of his "brothers", he should immediately go to a member of the house's executive council to explain the case and have the council decide whether or not it is appropriate to correct him. If the member's decision is affirmative, the member of the Work will make the fraternal correction to the other member, the one who committed the fault. The spirit of the Work forms wasps' nests with the sting always ready to inject the poison into our fellow men.

It has been published (161) that in the weekly collective talks the sympathetic members were urged to "compete" in telling their sins publicly, although in most cases they were simple, such as not having said the regulation prayer at the time or having fallen in the face of a temptation. Most accused themselves of the sin of pride or lack of humility, which was the most appreciated.

Guilt has its profitability in the sharing of confidences and the correction or fraternal sharing. Guilt is usually a source of internal tension with a contained emotional charge, which needs to be relieved in order to be balanced. This is why the pernicious sects establish the ritual where the follower is asked to confess all his inner self, to empty himself. (162) The technique used differs according to the characteristics of the group, and may consist of a friendly talk in which the most intimate experiences are recounted.

The techniques of sharing of confidences and of fraternal correction are acts of self-surrender that involve the moral punishment of public humiliation, which generates a perpetual interior emptiness from the feeling of being at fault, as someone who has no other right than that of obeying.

A characteristic fact (163) is that after having confessed and purged the sin, the follower becomes a fanatic accuser and punisher of his own companions, forgetting that shortly before he also took his place in the sadomasochistic bench in the name of God.

But betrayal can lead to greater heights. It is symptomatic that the then Nuncio of His Holiness, Monsignor Riberi, stated (164) that he felt rigorously watched and that he could not do or say anything without Opus Dei knowing about it. The fact that all the service personnel were from Opus Dei led to the joke of calling the nuncio's house the "Opustolic Nunciature". It is symptomatic that Opus Dei has many centers spread all over the country for the formation of the household, which are schools for domestic service that constitute an excellent business of placement agency for its service followers, and in the houses of the ruling classes, which are the ones that can afford the luxury of admitting maids and servants, without realizing that they are being placed under surveillance.

It would be very interesting if at least part of the monumental archive that is so jealously guarded in the Roman house of Bruno Buozzi were opened to science and public knowledge. There, with the Constitutions and the successive editions of the Instructions for Government, are the collection of notes and notices that exemplify, year after year, a style of governing and the ideas that Escrivá had about what was happening or should happen in the Church, in politics, in public and private morality and above all “in the houses and lives of his subjects”. (165)

The networks of the intelligence and information services could not be more sophisticated, more rude or more miserable.


151. Wast, Jesuits, "Opus Dei y Cursillos de Cristiandad", p. 62.
152. Moncada, "Historia oral del Opus Dei", p. 149.
153. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), pp. 120-121.
154. Ibid, p. 121.
155. Magaña, op cit, p 236.
156. Ibid., p. 236.
157. "Marie Claire" magazine (December 1987).
158. Moreno, "El Opus Dei, anexo a una historia", p. 147.
159. Le Vaillant, op cit, p. 233.
160. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), p. 120.
161. "El Opus por dentro" ("The Inside of Opus Dei") in Area Crítica, No. 2, (July, 1983) p 34.
162. Rodriguez, "Esclavos de un Mesías" ("Slaves of a Messiah"), p. 100-101.
163. Moreno, pp 84-85.
164. Carandell, p 163.
165. Moncada, "Historia oral del Opus Dei", op cit.

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