SECTS AND OPUS DEI
“My daughter is working as a servant
free”, says the mother (105).
make her work from ten in the morning to a quarter to eleven at night,
without stopping, so that she doesn't think. I have told the ladies
that the time of the black slaves is over, but their answer is that
what she does is for God. But my daughter is not scrubbing floors for
free for God, who does not need it, but for the Work.
Covadonga Carcedo also tells of her experience of the humiliations she
suffered when she became part of Opus Dei
(106): “I used
to get up at six
in the morning, kiss the floor, exclaiming 'serviam', and take a cold
shower. After work, I applied two hours a day wearing a cilice
entire salary to the Work. In Opus Dei, as in all sects, they have a
great capacity to brainwash you, but the truth is that they are a real
cohort of scribes and Pharisees. They preach that there are no luxuries
there, and yet the rich numeraries have to be assisted by uniformed
during spiritual retreats. Now many people are
leaving, especially the young ones, who did not know that once they
were admitted they became real slaves.”
The daily rules that a member living in an Opus Dei house has to
observe are very strict. (107)
A person who was a numerary member of
Opus Dei for more than ten years assured me that during the first seven
years of his membership in Opus Dei, he lived in constant tension and
was unable to comply with all the rules laid down. Moreover, he
believed that none of those who lived with him or had met him in the
ranks of Opus Dei had succeeded in doing so.
Another important observation is that all these sets of norms are an
integral part of the "spirit of the
Work". When they get up they kiss
the ground and make the offering of all the things of the day to God,
but the fruit of this offering is gathered by the sect leaders. They
shower with cold water and are kept busy all
day long so that they
fall asleep and have no time to think about the misery they have made
The coercive dynamic is an essential characteristic of any sectarian
structure and it should not be surprising to find it in groups as
apparently honorable as Opus Dei itself. (108)
A well-known architect, Miguel Fisac - who was one of the first twelve
members of Opus Dei - who was
a member of the Work for
the time I was in the Work I
was coerced to unacceptable
extremes. So much so that when I finally managed to get Alvaro del
Portillo (the great guru and successor of Escrivá de Balaguer)
to let me out, he asked me to forgive those coercions and justified
them by saying that since I had shown great generosity, they had
interpreted it as a vocation.”
This so-called excess of zeal or "holy
coercion" in the terminology of
the Work, so typical of exploitative sectarianism that identifies
vocation (religious, humanitarian, etc.) with irrational submission and
slavery, cannot be justified either by earthly arguments or by divine
To pretend to cover up miserable coercion, of whatever kind and in
whatever group, with the excuse of a "disinterested dedication to the
ideal" is as little acceptable as to pretend to justify the activity of
the guild of thieves under the mantle of a humanitarian campaign
against selfish and sinful materialism.
Torture is not only physical, but also, and in this case more subtle,
psychological. As proof of this, we have the testimony of María
del Pilar Domínguez Martínez, from Tuy (Pontevedra),
testimony informs us that as soon as she joined Opus Dei,
she was hunted down by a numerary and taken to a doctor of the Work to
find out if she was not physically handicapped. Later, the
mortifications deformed her body and the "sharing of confidences", the
acquired their true character of interrogation, for which she expressed
her discontent. When she realized that she wanted to leave Opus Dei,
her superior decided to take her to a psychiatrist of the Work.
In 1965 Miss Tapia was called to the headquarters in Rome, where she
was placed under virtual house arrest for eight months. She was not
allowed to communicate with the outside world, either by telephone or
letter. She was informed that anyone who asked for her would be told
that she was sick or absent. Within three months her hair turned white.
She asked if she could return to her family in Spain and was refused
permission. Tapia had been director of the women's section in
Venezuela. Opus Dei took away her passport and all her personal
documents. When she left, finally after the nightmare, she was forced
to go to confession. (110)
A priest of Opus Dei warned her that no
matter what penance she did for her various "crimes," there was little
chance that she would be saved. In his account in the National Catholic
Reporter, he describes the rude and insulting treatment she received
from the hands of the Founder. He concludes: “My astonishment is
infinite when I now hear that Monsignor Escrivá is in the
The coercion also comes from the documents that they make their
followers sign, which prevent them from taking critical attitudes for
fear of reprisals.
The numeraries sleep on a board without a mattress and are of a certain
height which, when covered by the quilt, gives the appearance of a
normal bed, in case someone who is not from the Work passes by. (111)
The "Father" says that women need to put their bodies on the pavement,
that one should not give them certain comforts because it is a source
Numeraries wear the cilice for two hours every day except Sundays and
holidays. Discipline is another mortification of the body type to which
they are subjected: it is a whip of cords that ends in several points.
It is used on Saturdays and only on Saturdays. They have to go into the
bathroom, get rid of their underwear and on their knees, whip their
buttocks for the whole time they take to pray a Salve. If they do not
do so, they must confess to it, even if it is not a sin or a serious
As for men, Alberto Moncada (112)
tells us, young people are used to
handling the disciplines, once or twice a week, and the cilice,
which they wear for two hours a day, tight to their thighs, during the
hours of study. Once a week they have to sleep on the floor, on the
famous day of the watch that each one has appointed to redouble the
observance of his brothers.
is a mortification tool that,
according to what is made clear
to the followers of Opus Dei, is completely necessary, although in the
opinion of a former member of the Work (113) “it is an outdated
that produces unnecessary suffering”. The use of the cilice
belt) as a practice is a norm in the sect. On one occasion a minor was
injured and cut on her thigh, (114)
and when asked by her mother she
lied. The mother later found out that her 15-year-old daughter's wound
had been caused by the cilice. They call
these lies "secrets of the
To understand the voluntary acceptance of ill-treatment by
pseudo-religious sects, one must refer to the depersonalizing process
they have undergone and the guilt complex they have created. They are
made aware that accepting the physical pain produced by self-injury is
a path of spiritual evolution for the atonement of sins and the
redemption of guilt. It is an irrational fervor the abiding in
contempt and mistreatment they receive from the Work. The tighter the
cilice, the more
it hurts and the more it marks, the more the suffering
is silenced, the better the adept is considered. If the walls of the
toilet are stained with blood after the application of the weekly
discipline, this will be a merit to be taken into account and will
certainly indicate unequivocally, that the imprint and the aftermath of
the sect is indelibly imprinted.
105. Magazine "Tiempo" (11
106. Magazine "Interviú"
(06 April 1988).
107. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa
aventura del Opus Dei", p. 117.
108. Rodríguez, "El poder de
las sectas" ("The Power of Cults"),
109. Magazine "Tiempo"
(August 4, 1986).
110. Walsh, p. 181.
111. "Marie Claire" magazine
112. Moncada, "Historia oral del
Opus Dei", p. 141.
113. Magazine "Interviú"
(April 6, 1989).
Index of Chapter I