CHAPTER I


SECTS AND OPUS DEI


7. Recruitment and Proselytism of Members



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 sect. (86)

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 groups. Since 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 young people, the times of exams, when the stress is greater, which can cause certain imbalances in the personality, or when one is withdrawn from the family or affective environment and in any circumstance close to loneliness.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 invitation (87) 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 welcome.

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) problems, his hobbies, his anxieties, his fears, his threats and his, by some leader in the future making use of those incipient manifested concerns, that he 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 frequently visit 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 calculated 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 he/she once was.

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 is 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 members. “This is the moment for the task of counting. How many vocations have you brought? Our personal apostolate is directed in the first place to prepare our 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”) who 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 organization's procedures.

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 experience. (91) «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 convenient 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 educational centers.

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 middle 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, in 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 them economically.

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 had gone 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 - “and 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 daughter. (94)

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 from 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 conscience) 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 with Opus 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 coward.”

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 simple 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 its 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 mayor of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, has sent a letter to the President of the Episcopal Conference, Angel Suquía, (101) in which he accuses Opus Dei 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 professional, but is aimed especially at turning them into blind followers of Opus Dei.”

The selection is made from among schoolchildren, high school graduates, and students. These may have been "chosen" as early as the age of thirteen (102) 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 do 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, who, 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 the good.”

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.


REFERENCES

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. 218.
95. Ibid, p. 69.
96. "Tiempo" magazine (August 4, 1986).
97. Jardiel 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.
103. "Interviú" magazine.
104. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventrua del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), p 80.


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