SECTS AND OPUS DEI
7. Recruitment and Proselytism of
Recruitment is one of the first duties imposed on any sect. In order to
achieve this primary objective - that from an
artistic and plastic point
of view could be represented in Goya's painting "Saturn devouring his
children" - these
organizations use any means to reach their goal, being
deception and lies the weapons they use to try to place their
merchandise, there always being a dissociation between the propaganda
that is externalized and the reality that is lived inside.
Experts in the field explain that lies applied to recruitment acquire
all possible variants, from lies explicitly verbalized, to lies by
"omission", through the concealment of identity and purposes of the
As for the recruitment from
one of these destructive sects no one can feel
immune to danger, no one can be sure of not falling into temptation, no
one can boast of being allergic to the captive networks of these
the need to believe in something transcendental is
inherent to the human being, the sociability of man has psychological
components that, at a given time and if it is our low or critical hour,
we can any be easy prey of this type of group.
Any person has moments of crisis, of loss, of rupture, and it is
precisely these moments, the situations of depression due to any
problem or circumstance of relationship, affection or situation of any
nature, when it is the most propitious and suitable moment to be
approached by the followers. It is sought and watched, in
the times of exams, when the stress is greater, which can cause certain
imbalances in the personality, or when one is withdrawn from the family
or affective environment and in any circumstance close to loneliness.
Almost always the same picture is repeated, the same scene set in
motion by the sects to encourage proselytism, which will begin with a
trivial, motivating, pleasant conversation, which will conclude with an
to attend a free conference on such and such a topic,
an invitation to a meeting where we will meet a group of friends, to go
to lunch or dinner where we can talk more relaxed, to spend a splendid
weekend in a "beautiful country house", to make a spiritual retreat or
to carry out any other always gratifying activity.
If you accept the generous and solicitous invitation, you will find
yourself immersed in a prepared, artificial, illusory and fantastic
atmosphere, where you will be presented with a world of happiness and
illusion, where you will see smiling and happy people, in a relaxed
atmosphere of great comradeship, who will be concerned and interested
in the new "friend" who
is accessing, and who will be given a warm
resistance, in a friendly way. The
newcomer will find himself entertained and understood. His concerns and
his hopes will be revealed, and some of those present will say that
they understand him perfectly, because that is how he was in the past
until he found the way to overcome it. Everything that the unwary
person says will be registered and written down, to open the file of
the potential member and it will be made manifest to him
They will be interested in his (or her)
threats and his, by some leader
in the future making use of those incipient manifested concerns, that
could avoid the fears and achieve his expectations thanks to the
discovery of a new spiritual dimension.
The cam of new followers is always in a personal way, by direct
contact, by human relationship with some member or follower of the sect.
A valuable report on the psychology used in the process of conversion
to certain harmful sects, carried out by Dr. John G. Clark in a team
with other specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, extensively
describes the methodology used to recruit young people.
- Young people who, whatever their
natural ties, undergo the
psychological transformations characteristic of the passage to
maturity. Members of sects responsible for winning over proselytes
libraries, university venues, etc.
- Persuasion: the future devotee is invited to attend a course of
advice aimed at eliminating their problems. During these initial
contacts and at the first meetings within the sect, recruiters do their
best to make the religious community extremely attractive to the
newcomer. They make him feel deeply moved, expressing their great
interest in his welfare, treating him even with affection and paying
attention to his ideas, hobbies and hopes.
- Conversion: the trusted members, previously trained for this task, do
not leave the aspirant alone for a moment, accompanying him even to the
door of the washroom.
- Indoctrination: one of the consequences of this re-education is to
polarize the mental activity of the devotee, inducing him to believe
that the sect represents all that is good and profitable for him and
that the other associations are pernicious, even perverse, so that they
must be avoided at any cost or manipulated to put them at the service
of the new member.
- While indoctrination continues, spiritual leaders and directors lose
no opportunity to conjure up the specter of supernatural punishment
that punishes disobedience. Redemption, holiness, and salvation are
reserved for convinced believers and practitioners. (88) Thus, little
by little, he or she has become another man or woman different from
As to why people today join a sect, there can be various answers,
depending on whether it is because of the inter-relational need of
human beings to share a community life, the need for transcendence, the
need to remedy the evils that afflict us, the shared affinity of a
certain belief, the inherent need for mysticism and religion, the need
to find a remedy for our frustrations or mutual help and assistance for
our needs, the aspiration to a better social position, etc.
Michael Walsh's book "The Secret
World of Opus Dei" explains in detail
the phenomenon of proselytism within the Work. (89) “When a person
not zealous to win over others it is because his heart does not beat.
He is dead. And we can apply to him those words of Scripture "Iam
foetet, quatriduanus est enim" (John 11:39), "He
is already decaying -
literally stinking - because he has been dead for four days". Those
souls, even if they were in the Work, would be dead, decomposed, iam
foetet. And I”
- says the "Father" (Escrivá de Balaguer) - “am not
going anywhere with dead bodies. I bury the corpses.”
Looking for followers is a primary obligation, something that must be
exposed every week in the circles: to what extent has an individual
fulfilled his task of "fishing" - the word used by Opus Dei
- for new
is the moment for
the task of counting. How many vocations have you
brought? Our personal apostolate is directed in the first place to
friends in the work of St. Raphael.” -- St. Raphael's
apostolate is the term Opus Dei uses for the search for young members
(“I am not saying” - concludes
the "Father" - “that we cannot find
vocations among older people, but that... is something difficult”)
could later, if suitable, be recruited to be full and celibate members
(St. Michael's apostolate), or formed as parents (St. Gabriel's
apostolate). -- “How willingly you
laughed when I advised you to place
your young years under the protection of St. Raphael so that he could
guide you, as he did with young Tobias, to a holy marriage with a girl
who is good, beautiful and rich.” (Escrivá)
Those who have friends among the members of Opus Dei may be annoyed to
know that their friendship is considered a means of attracting new
followers. Once won, professionals replace them to follow the
The removal of children from their families goes hand in hand with the
creation of an increasingly dependent relationship with Opus Dei. (90)
The following testimony from a priest from Catalonia
tells us about his own
«They told us "come with us, come to our house, to our
place. We have talks and prayers with other boys who have the same
problems as you. You will be able to progress in the spiritual order."
Some friends behind me have been chasing me, locking me up for several
months. And I did not know that they belonged to Opus Dei. Suddenly, I
realized it. And it was very difficult to escape their pressure, their
perseverance, you understand.»
“I entered Opus Dei because of all
this, like others. And it wasn't
until later that I realized that this was a trap, a snare. You have to
be inside to realize that. I made the path that needs to be made. I
went with them. I attended their talks, etc. Immediately I was
appointed a spiritual director, a layman, who made your life plan, that
is, what you had to do from getting up to going to bed, what you had to
do and what you did not have to do. We had to give an account of our
actions regularly every week, to our leaders. Nothing had to be taken
care of. When you had an interior problem, you had to present it to
your spiritual director, who would give you the explanation and the
solution. He was your conscience. This was comfortable. This
contributed greatly to the success of Opus Dei. I left when I realized
that this was a progressive imprisonment.”
Public opinion is generally unaware of the methods with which Opus Dei
acts on Spanish youth. (92)
Its systems of proselytism are similar to
those employed by the Orientalist sects that proliferate in the West,
and conflicts are increasing with parents whose minor children have
been recruited by the Work.
Sects, like Opus Dei, are in the business of teaching as a very
activity to attract
new followers, using teaching and classrooms as
laboratories where the process of selecting and receiving future
members begins. Opus Dei is the subject of many well-founded
accusations of sectarian manipulation of students who come to its
The infiltration of Opus Dei into the high schools offers innumerable
examples. The best individuals
are constantly the subject of various
invitations. This expeditious way of acting has some success among the
classes. The most valuable individuals are
sought to support
Opus Dei and all its paraphernalia.
Scenes like the following one occur more and more frequently. “Opus has
kidnapped our Conchi.” The police of the
town of San Vicente
(Alicante) could not believe their ears when a couple of well-known
local merchants came to the police station,
January 1988, with such an unusual accusation.
The accusations of these parents, most of whom were good Catholics,
against Opus Dei, were mainly for having kidnapped their minor
children, brainwashed them and annulled their will, confronting them
with their own families, whom they had kept ignorant, while exploiting
It is significant what happened to Mr. Mosquera, (93) a podiatrist
from Barcelona who went to the police headquarters in Via Layetana to
denounce the case of his daughter María Pilar. The young woman
to Vienna to study music while working as an au pair in the house of an
Opus Dei family, and had been subjected to real harassment by people of
the Work who, according to her, persecuted her and even raided her home
and boycotted her exams as a form of pressure. “I was attended to by a
very kind sergeant of the national police” - explains Mosquera
what would not be my surprise when, after explaining my story to him,
he said: What are you going to tell me? I have a 19-year-old daughter
who almost went crazy for Opus Dei.”
In Oviedo, the Director of the Montealegre Club, one of the more than
100 that Opus Dei has in Spain, received a notary request from the
parents of a 17-year-old girl who frequented the club, who demanded
that she (the
Director) abstain from having any relationship with their
This whole set-up, which was sinuously called apostolic action, but
which should properly be called exclusively "proselytism"(95) in Opus
Dei, is called "holy coercion".
“We don't care about statistics”
- Escrivá said. But the number
of people who ask for admission to the Work each year does matter. Even
quotas are set for each house or city, and members are strongly urged
not to fail to achieve these figures.
On the subject of recruiting young people, Juan de Cozar Martín
Línea de la Concepción, in the province of Cadiz, reveals
(96) how this
religious sect, by means of some very well studied
techniques (brainwashing, periodic sharing of confidences, coercion of
deforms young people in such a way that they lose primarily their
affection for their family, disconnecting them from their parents and
siblings. It depersonalizes them and turns them into machines
programmed solely for their convenience, squeezing them like a lemon.
Eva Jardiel Poncela, the daughter of the famous Spanish novelist, tells
us about her personal experience, (97) “my first experience
Dei, honestly, made me sick. That is the truth. I couldn't believe it.
It seemed impossible, and I thought about how many people like me who
would go through a bad time in their lives would become members of Opus
Dei just out of cowardice, and I thanked God for not having been born a
The main means of formation in Opus Dei are courses and retreats, which
usually take place in specially prepared houses, located far from major
urban centers. There are houses for numerary members, diocesan clergy,
and girls, in which the social category and status of those attending
is discriminatory. (98)
Thus, in a course for numerary girls, there
will never be any service
girls - except for cleaning the house - just
as in the case of a businessman's retreat, there will never be a
worker. Depending on the duration and the psychological moment, there
are courses and retreats, short circles, etc.
Such is the manipulation to which the students are subjected that
sometimes news comes out in the press in which official bodies are
forced to investigate irregularities in Opus Dei's schools, because of
complaints from the students' families. (99) The Department of
Education of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia is investigating
alleged irregularities in "Centro de Estudios El
Vallés" ("El Vallés Study Centre"), a
boarding school for girls located in the town of San Cugat del
Vallés, near Barcelona, and owned by Opus Dei. These
investigations were initiated following a complaint by the family of
the student Gema Saiz Broch.
According to the student's mother, María Broch, “Opus Dei uses
schools to recruit minors.” (100)
“My daughter's future is to be a
servant of the houses of Opus Dei, which are as beautiful and clean as
gold, thanks to this branch of numerary assistants who work for free.
If my daughter had not brainwashed, she
would not have
taken vows as a servant at the age of 16.”
The centre did not have a permit to give home lessons and the
inspection has proposed to reprimand the
boarding school and among the
measures that could be taken are the cancellation of the economic
concert, a warning to close the centre or the withdrawal of the
academic operation license. Father Luis Hernández, who is the
Santa Coloma de Gramenet, has sent a letter to the President of the
Episcopal Conference, Angel Suquía, (101) in which he accuses
of “committing grave violations
against the freedom of persons in its
effort to attract followers”, stating that “the formation that is given
in the centers dependent on the Prelature - Opus Dei - is not
but is aimed especially at turning them into blind followers of Opus
The selection is made from among schoolchildren, high school graduates,
and students. These may have been "chosen" as early as the age of
and from that moment on are the object of close scrutiny
by the Work's recruiting agents, who spread their ever-tighter nets
around them. They are invited to circles, meetings, excursions... A
spiritual director is then assigned to the candidate. Then, around the
age of fifteen, if he is mature, if he fits into the mold well, he
will write a letter to the "Father",
“asking to become a member of Opus
Dei”. This attachment to the "Father" is a central phenomenon.
Eighteen-year-old Susana Crespi Boixador managed to get out, as she
confesses, “of that hell”.
Her father, Jaime Crespi, said: “Children
not belong to us forever. But if my daughter throws herself into the
river to drown, I'll throw myself into saving her. And this is what
happened in Opus Dei. She entered into a spiral of following those who
annulled her will”. Now, from the true freedom of Susana Crespi,
when she thinks of the girls who are still in the grip of Opus Dei, is
saddened, she wants to send her friends a message full of love and
sincerity, because she categorically states (103) that “Opus Dei is
worse than a sect. You are recruited as a child without you realizing
it, and with the passage of time you become an automaton without the
ability to discern between good and bad. They instill in you what they
claim to be
At the university level (104)
the University of Navarra, owned by Opus
Dei, has become an immense seedbed of "apostles" of Opus Dei, being the
largest recruitment base for the Work in the world.
After proselytism and recruitment, come the VOWS, which at first are
taken for one year and renewed for five - the so-called "Oblation"; the
next step is the juridical incorporation into the Work, which is called
"Fidelity" - the culmination of the process of depersonalization.
86. Rodríguez, "Esclavos de
un Mesías" ("Slaves of a
Messiah"), p 54.
87. Rodríguez, "Las sectas
hoy y aquí" ("Cults Today and
Here"), p 22.
88. "Cuadernos de realidades
sociales", No. 35/36, pp 34-37.
89. Michael Walsh, "The Secret World
of Opus Dei" (Barcelona: Plaza
& Janés, 1990), pp. 172-173.
90. Ibid, p. 175.
91 Le Vaillant, pp. 209-210
92 "Tiempo" magazine (April
11, 1988), p. 11.
93. Ibid, p. 13.
94. María Angustias Moreno, "El
Opus Dei, anexo a una historia",
op cit, p.
95. Ibid, p. 69.
96. "Tiempo" magazine (August
Poncela, p. 13.
98. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura
del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious
Adventure of Opus Dei"), p. 120.
99. "El País"
newspaper (December 6, 1989), p. 28.
100. Ibid (December 8, 1989), p. 28.
101. Ibid (January 6, 1990), p. 23.
102. Vaillant, pp 64-65.
104. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa
aventrua del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious
Adventure of Opus Dei"), p 80.
Index of Chapter I