CHAPTER I


SECTS AND OPUS DEI


6. Ambition for Wealth and Power - Unbridled Greed



The members of Opus Dei are a synthesis of Merchants of God and Temple Sellers. Pere Pique used to say that a clan capable of earning so many millions a year and of taking over, from the shadows, top-leading companies, when Jesus Christ shone and preached poverty in broad daylight, gives us something to think about and talk about. On top of that, founded by the man who would become Marquis and raised to a prelature by the controversial Polish Pope. (72) It is now urgent to give light to the shadow.

As the Instituto de Sociología Aplicada (Institute of Applied Sociology) indicates, through its specialized publication, sects do not usually devote much time to charitable works outside their own circle, since all their material resources are used for their own ends. What these sects mainly seek is "cheap labour in the service of their own business".

The instructions given to members of Opus Dei concern how to use their time and money for the benefit of the association. (73) In Opus Dei, if a man gave the organization his entire income during his lifetime and it can be proved that he spent less than he earned, is he entitled to any restitution or even compensation? The leaders of the Work maintain that he does not. (74)

The economic regime to which the members and associates of Opus Dei are subjected - especially the numeraries, who usually live together in flats or, to use the Work's terminology, in "families" generally made up of eight to ten members - is to hand over their salaries and earnings to the secretary at the end of the month, and when any of them needs to have a suit made or to buy some shoes, they consult the director for authorization to make this extraordinary expense. (75) Although the director does not have the power to decide what that suit should look like, there is no doubt that his advice carries weight in this respect. According to former members, there was a time when in each city there was a person who was responsible for "orienting" the members when they needed to renew their clothes and direct them to certain establishments more or less connected with the Work.

The version, with small nuances, is also assumed by Alberto Moncada who confirms the delivery at the cash desk of the house of the totality of their income and that later they had to request and ask for what was necessary, in agreement with their superiors and always within a scheme of scarcity imposed on them. They could not have individual bank accounts, nor private goods. At the end of the month, they must give the director, as part of their sharing of confidences, an account of the expenses they had incurred.

From the moment you enter the Work - a numerary A. L. M. N. informs us - they keep a general account of income and expenses. Normally the income is higher than the expenses, so there is a surplus. But if you leave, never try to get your money back. You might start to believe that the Work is spiritual. All the things you have in your name must be put in the name of the Work, because you have to live "poverty" and God has asked us for everything - these are the arguments used. Your properties and belongings are put in the name of faithful numeraries. (76) When you leave, forget all that you have given.

This abuse of trust is justified in the sense that when you enter the Work, it is in good spirit - they insinuate - to sign what they put before you without first taking a look at it, because the Work, which is God's, which has a holy founder - they tell you - and which is a mother for her children, how can they sell you something and deliver a different thing? You sign whatever they throw at you. (77)

If in reality, as they deceptively say, you are a member of a purely secular association, why do they manage your income? If you enjoyed that "so much exalted" freedom, the money you earn would be in your bankbook, at your free disposal. But this is not the case: you will never know how much money you have, nor will you be able to dispose of it. You will never get a receipt for the money you have given. (78)

The magazine Interviú published, for the first time in April 1988, an exceptional probative document, a proof of fulminant eviction, the photocopy of the will of an Opus Dei member, María del Carmen Rodríguez Pinto, in favour of Opus Dei. The will was granted before the notary of Oviedo, José Antonio Caicoya, and in its second clause it designated Colegio Mayor "Los Arces", of Valladolid, as the universal heir of all its goods, rights and actions, on the condition that, when the succession is left, the spiritual care of this college would be entrusted to and carried out by Opus Dei. The wills, as well as the blank receipts for the sales of properties, always held by the directors of the Work, were jealously guarded secrets.

Covadonga Carcedo, a former member of Opus Dei who was active for several years and who, as mentioned above, decided to apostatize the Catholic Church after many years of doubt and disillusionment with the work of the sect, declared to the public: “Once the pressure, the difficulties and even the death threats have been overcome, I am leaving. I want to stop belonging to an economic-financial sect, to a mafia made up of rich demagogues who exploit a few naive poor people and, from now on, I intend to live according to principles of honesty and forget about this world of hypocrisy forever.”

Cults are moved by criteria of pure economic profitability. (79) When a follower - because he or she is sick - only represents a maintenance expense and brings no benefit, he or she is given a pat on the back and sent off to his or her family, to the charity or to the street. And this applies to all destructive sects. There is no one like them to convince of the need to amass fortunes for "their" god or ideas.

The legal corruptions that these organizations use are very varied. The formula of "voluntary donation" is applied to the exploitation of their followers. Generally, the charismatic leader or "father" lives in opulence, mansions and palaces, surrounded by luxury and comfort, but, paradoxically, they do not legally possess anything, since the goods and properties they enjoy are simulated in the name of legal entities or trustees of their complete trust, although the encrypted keys of the current accounts are usually reserved. The "parents" and charismatic leaders avoid in this way any kind of civil or criminal liability.

Between the leaders and the followers there is a relationship god-slaves. And in that very favorable circumstance they not only take control of the mind of their unconditional ones by storing their soul, but also, and this is the most important thing, of their performance and capacity for work - exploitation - of their current account and personal goods.

In the Constitutions of Opus Dei, its strategy is camouflaged but implicit. Thus, the Article 9 states that “members of Opus Dei act either individually or through associations which may be cultural or artistic, or financial, etc., and which are called auxiliaries. These societies are likewise, in their activity, subject to the obedience of the hierarchical authority of the Institute” or the blatant article 202 which states that “the means of apostolate peculiar to the Institution are public offices, especially those involving the exercise of a direction.”

Armando Segura Naya, as a graduate in Philosophy and Literature, made the following logical reflection: (80) “Opus in an inconceivable association. In the first place, it is inconceivable that ordinary faithful or simply people of high or low political or economic standing should not have ownership, administration and full responsibility for their property, nor be able to guarantee absolutely professional secrecy, not even free residence. Of course, the level of unbelief increases with the social level of the subject... no numerary nor oblate member administers his/her own goods, nor does he/she have the title of ownership over them, which is attributed to the "Father". It is inconceivable to try to cover the inconceivable with "supernatural vision". As is well known, what should not be, what is not naturally right, is not supernaturally right either.”

The justification Opus Dei gives to its unwary people is that private possession is selfish, it is an obstacle that prevents them from reaching happiness. Therefore it is absolutely essential that its followers donate all their properties to the sect that will keep them safe, and with this altruistic gesture it shows that it is imbued with the spirit of the Work, a work which equivocally and pompously, they say, is "of God" - what we do not know is which god they are referring to; whether it is the God of the Christians or the golden calf, the god Mammon.

As is well known, they look for the best elements, not to make them preachers, priests or missionaries of the infidels, but bank directors, heads of publications or ministers, in the obsession of handling exclusively, if necessary, the levers of power.

Specialists in the phenomenon of sects have coined the term "Multinationals of the Spirit, S.A." to groups of the type of Opus Dei, because, on the spiritual pillars, they set up multi-million dollar financial businesses, (81) emphasizing that “Opus Dei has hardly anything to its name. It is not necessary for them, since control of assets, productive or otherwise, is effected through devotional rather than contractual ties. If one possesses the will of a person, he will also control all his acts and possessions, but avoiding, with such a ruse, possible fiscal responsibilities in particular and juridical responsibilities in general”.

In the recent book published in Spain under the title "El Poder de las Sectas" ("The Power of Cults") (82), which takes a look at all these organizations that are established and act with impunity in the Iberian Peninsula [i.e. Spain and Portugal], when it deals with Opus Dei, it says: “Opus Dei is no secret to anyone. It has always exercised its power and influence from behind its discreet faithful, over those who have great influence in both their private and professional lives. Although the era of the technocrats, when the men of the Work directly held part of Franco's power, is now over, Opus Dei's undercover political activity is still as powerful, if not more so, than in the past.”

“Its faithful control a good part of the Spanish financial structure; they are in hundreds of key positions in the administration; they have politicians who are like-minded - who should be read as being servile to the Work of God - in many parties, especially in formations such as Partido Popular and Unió Democrática de Catalunya; they control, to a large extent, the Vatican apparatus and the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which is another no less important way of intervening in political processes, etc. In other countries, notably in Latin America, its influence is somewhat more modest than in Spain.”

“If the faithful of the Work were simply 'good Christians', as they like to define themselves, their mention in a book on sects would not be justified. But the influence that the leadership of Opus Dei exerts on its flock goes far beyond the ideological and licit framework that is common to all religious and political ideas. What is common within the Work (which does not have to prevent possible exceptions) is the control of the psyche of its followers, under the excuse of administering their souls. That is to say, ignoring the poetic edges, to go on to control their mundane actions of today in function of a hypothetical later on in the morning.”

“Opus Dei, with its undeniable sense of practicality and intelligence, dedicates itself to accumulate temporal power, through its believers, here and now, perhaps because, with its intuition for the unearthly affairs, it senses that, in the heavenly paradise, if it exists, there will be no room for ambitions of domination, whether material or spiritual. The kingdom of the Work of God is certainly of this world.”(83)

From the pages of a national weekly magazine, (84) Fernando Jiménez Loitegui, from Almería, “could not understand how the Spanish authorities did not investigate the behaviour of these Opus Dei bankers who control banks and savings banks and have an influence on society that is beyond any control”.

The puerile and cynical response of an authoritative voice in Opus Dei, Salvador Bernal, author of a praiseworthy book on the life of the founder of Opus Dei entitled "Monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer", published by the official publisher of the sect, Rialp, in 1976, justified the control of the followers' assets in this way: “Children have nothing of their own, everything belongs to their parents... and your 'Father' always knows very well how he governs his patrimony.”


REFERENCES

72. Pique, R. P., "Tiempo" magazine (28 July 1986).
73. Moncada, "El Opus Dei: Una interpretación", p. 94.
74. Ibid, p. 119.
75. Carandell, p 59.
76. "Marie Claire" magazine (December 1987).
77. Ibid
78. Ibid
79. Rodríguez, "Esclavos de un Mesías" ("Slaves of a Messiah"), p 92.
80. Jardiel Poncela, p 191.
81. Rodriguez, "El poder de las sectas" ("The Power of Cults"), op cit, p 137.
82. Ibid, p 225.
83. Moncada, "Historia oral del Opus Dei", op cit.
84. "Tiempo" magazine (August 11, 1986).
85. Salvador Bernal, "Monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer" (Barcelona: Rialp, 1976), p. 208.


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