Rorate Caeli

The Opus Dei "clean-up operation"

Yes, Holy Father, please bring in the pros. From La Stampa's  Vatican Insider:

The Opus Dei and Benedict XVI’s “silent clean-up" operation

Rafael García de la Serrana Villalobos’ appointment as vice director of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of Vatican City State, is a step in this direction


His appointment went practically unnoticed but is proof of the great trust Benedict XVI has in the Opus Dei as part of his strategy to silently clean up the Roman Curia in the aftermath of the Vatileaks scandal. The Vatican City State has a new inspector: Rafael García de la Serrana Villalobos.

Last 26 January, the priest was appointed vice director of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of the world’s smallest State. And he was not chosen by chance. Only yesterday he was head of logistics at the Opus Dei headquarters in Rome.
[I]t appears Rafael García de la Serrana’s appointment is anything but a coincidence. As an engineer, he offers a guarantee that he will not be duped into paying exorbitant prices; as a priest, he will ensure a greater resistance to temptation as well as restoring people’s trust in the Pope and in the Church. Honesty in other words.

With the new vice director of the Department of Technical Services, the Opus Dei has not only reinforced its role within the Curia, where some of its members occupy prestigious posts, it has also proved itself as one of the ecclesiastical bodies closest to the Pope.

Cardinal Julián Herranz led the commission that investigated into the source of the leaked news; Secretariat of State official, Peter Brian Wells, personally dealt with the legal case against the Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele and the IT technician, Claudio Sciarpelletti. Meanwhile, American journalist and numerary member of the Opus Dei, Greg Burke, is in charge of the Vatican communications strategy. All of them Opus Dei men.

We remain sad that the Work has not put their fine worldwide network in the service of the most important document of Pope Benedict XVI, the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, in honor of the Mass celebrated by their founder from the day of his Ordination. But there should be no doubt that their members are usually quite careful in the way they work and in what they say. Here's hoping that a priest of Holy Cross and Opus Dei is soon named to the presidency of the Pontifical Council for the Family...


Ryan Ellis said...

Agreed on the need for them to get over their hangups and embrace SP. I will say, though, that their public Masses in the Ordinary Form tend to be top-decile solid.

They always use sacred vessels and vestments of the highest quality. You almost always get Penitential Rite A (the Confiteor). The Benedictine altar arrangement is deployed. Their homilies are first-rate. The formation is good, solid, practical stuff.

It's just too bad that they, like the Anglican Ordinariate, have become tense with EF Catholics, when we should be natural allies.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of a few Opus Dei Priests that do celebrate the Extraoedinary Form of the Roman Rite. I received this information from a traditional order. They know the priests of Opus Dei that celebrate in that form of the Roman Rite. While it's only a few priests of Opus Dei, I believe it has the potnetial to spread through out the Work.

Benedict Carter said...

Anonymous said:

"... priests of Opus Dei that celebrate in that form of the Roman Rite".

What do you mean? There is only authentic form of the Roman Rite. The Novus Ordo it is not, whatever Rome says.

ODCatechumen said...

I was catechized for almost two years by an OD priest and baptized by him in 2008. This Mass included bongo drums, guitars, and all the rest of it. Very disturbing.

His cavalier approach to the Mass - "it's just a means, not an end" - was a major factor in driving me away from OD, for I saw that we're rightly to assist only at the traditional Mass (notice that just now I didn't say "EF" or "Extraordinary Form"; OD's willingness to embrace such Orwellian terminology, as long as it comes from the pope, was also a factor in driving me away.)

We also came into conflict when I saw that the new CCC was soaked in the poison of Vatican II (e.g., para. 841), and he saw this as wonderful. Things went downhill when I tried to discuss this with him:

It also didn't help that I rejected the anticlericalism of OD, refused to buy into the JPII cult of celebrity, and didn't accord work quite the salvific weight that OD does.

Anonymous said...

"I will say, though, that their public Masses in the Ordinary Form tend to be top-decile solid."

A '78 pinto can be maintained meticulously. But I still wouldn't want anything to do with it!

Mike said...

We can find fault with anything or anyone.

(Excepting Our Lord and His Mother.)

The Pharisees did.

Merino said...

"The Benedictine altar arrangement is deployed"

And they deployed it long before anyone thought of calling it "the Benedictine altar arrangement". Indeed the Opus Dei version is more e traditional in that it always includes six good-sized and evenly-spaced candlesticks, unlike other forms of the same arrangement that often have the candles bunched off inconspicuously to the corners of the altar, or where the candles are tiny.

Dan Hunter said...

Adfero said...
"I will say, though, that their public Masses in the Ordinary Form tend to be top-decile solid."

A '78 pinto can be maintained meticulously. But I still wouldn't want anything to do with it!

This really is an excellent analogy!

Thank you Adfero.

New Catholic said...

Joseph, you can always send us tips by e-mail, thank you.

Tony from Oz said...

Opus Dei? Clean up operation? Rather than part of the problem?!

Try reading Maria Carmen del Tapia's 'Beyond the Threshold' - her account as one of the early female 'numeraries' and who was with OD from 1949 to 1966 when she left.

It is a very objective and non-hysterical account about that cultish organisation in which numeraries (incld herself) were required to send endless reports to 'the Father' in Rome (ie St Jose Maria etc etc); info obtained under the guise of spiritual direction (by laymen - a norm in OD).

OD needs to clean itself up let alone Rome - sheesh!

Mike said...


Go back to Oz. :)

Once again, Protestants found plenty of "former" priests who fled from Rome, filled with horror stories of Catholic paganism.

Opus Dei, like the Catholic Church, of which it is a small part, is composed of sinners, "madly in love with Jesus Christ."

Finding a disgruntled former anything is pretty easy, as is throwing stones. Why not recognize that Opus Dei members, such as those mentioned in the post, are generally reliable folks?

NBW said...

ODCatechumen: where can one find the real CCC and not a Vat2 CCC?

Tony from Oz said...

Mike (from wherever),

Thanks for the kindly reproof (you can stay in your country, too, mate, wherever that may be) - but please do acquire the book and judge for yourself, eh? It is a reasonable book written by someone who was hardly a fly-by-nighter with Opus Dei.

I also have had interactions, over a long period, with Opus Dei. I do not doubt the sincerity of individuals and am friendly with some at various levels. However, I know many alienated, yet, thank God, still practising members of kids from Opus Deo families.

The continuing saga is that of being recruited and manipulated by numeraries. Really disturbing accounts of personal information being disclosed to Opus Dei priests by numeraries who have, obviously disclosed sensitive informations told them by these kids who are being softened up to recruit. This information being given back to them by Opus Dei priests in the confessional by the numeraries!

They refer to this process as 'the chat'. As in, "hey Mike, it's time for the chat". In which one of the topics is discussing things like: "And, Mike, how's the purity?". After many 'chat' encounters, the numeraries live for the day when the desired recruit utters the long-for words : "I think I'm ready 'to whistle'". 'Whistle' being the standard OD euphemism indicating willingness to take vows as a numerary. I kid you not!

Tapia's book brought together, and made sense of many aspects of what I had found disturbing - over a twenty five year period - about many aspects of the Opus Dei's modus operandi.

In any case, I am gobsmacked that an excellent forum like Rorate Caeli should be so pie-eyed to suggest that OD is part of the solution to the present day problems of the Church. They are not. They are the very quintessence of Vatican II neo-conservatism.

Anyhow - I appreciate the point you make about books written by disgruntled ex-religious etc - but Tapia's book ain't one o' them.

Matercula said...

I, like Tony of Oz, found Tapia's book an astounding clear and dignified clarification of the concerns I have since encountering ex Opus Dei members at all levels and learning of their efforts to get on with life outside 'the work' as healthy functoning Catholics, many of whom, by the grace of God have found their way to the Traditional liturgy.
I found Tapia's book also gave dignified credence to the numerous accounts posted on the Opus Dei Awareness Network web page "".
"Yes", gobsmacked indeed, that this forum could be so naive as to think that Opus Dei could be a solution to problems in the post-Vatican II church when it is so obvious that they are part of the problem.

Michael Ortiz said...

Well, Tony, we will just have to disagree. I have been around the Work for 25 plus years. I know first-hand that the Confession is a sealed vault--priests of the Work take VERY seriously the ABSOLUTE obligation of the Seal. Period. Zero exceptions.

The Chat does deal with issues of purity--"how's the battle going?", but there is no obligation to bring up issues of conscience--that's for Confession. It's simply brother helping brother. Be cynical if you want, but the wages thereof are paltry!

I have never said or thought that Opus Dei members haven't done stupid things. They have. But the catechesis of the Work is quite Traditional on many, many levels. Yes, there are some who have only one Pope--JPII--but that will change as the years roll by. I am not saying that ex-members are totally false in their claims; I am saying that that is simply not the whole story, a large part of which, God willing, will help this Pope and future Popes clean up the mess we are in.

Trads have enough enemies; making Opus Dei one is surely self-defeating.

Cyril said...

Absolutely, the chat takes place with Opus Dei numeries and any of that information can be disclosed. Actually, I had my confession turned into just such a chat, when it was clear to the OD priest that I was making a confession. I had even said some venial sins. I wasn't given absolution. No reason given, and no reason not to receive absolution either but I suspect that the priest wanted to disclose some of what I had said and so felt he was not breaking the seal by not giving absolution. I find this process totally suspect and I do think they need to clean their own act up first.

Mike said...


Not denying your experience, but in the Work, priests don't normally hear chats of other members, certainly not lay members.

Look: judge a thing by its use, not abuse. It's a sound principle, one that balanced perspectives can deal with...a principle closely related to the Golden Rule, in fact...

Unknown said...

Tony from Oz: I am a former member of Opus Dei. Spiritual direction is one of the services that The Work offers, and as with all other means of formation that Opus Dei provides, one avails of it with full freedom, whether you are a member or simply a beneficiary of Opus Dei's formation. The idea is that you recognize, with great humility, that your own abilities are not enough to guide your soul. The opinion of people of greater experience and education could prove valuable to your spiritual progress. That's why, when one has a chat (and remember, it's voluntary, no one forces you or can ever force you to reveal something you want to keep private), it's best to be sincere about the things that matter in one's spiritual struggle. But in the end, while one should humbly listen to the advice given by the one receiving the chat, the decision to act is entirely up to you. You own your spiritual progress and may choose to follow the advice or not.

In the same vein, if the person receiving your chat has some questions about your situation, he/she could also, with all humility, recognize that his/her wisdom is not enough. With utmost confidence, a consultation with the higher ups or a priest (who knows more about Moral Theology) is something that they could do for the sake of being able to guide you better. I'd like to emphasize that confidentiality. Consultations are not ways of publicizing your life; it's simply getting help from the people who could help. I have benefited from this system myself in many ways and could tell you that it works. Just see the reasons why these things are in place and you'll be able to take advantage of the help that Opus Dei provides.

That said, the members of the hierarchy of any organization are sinners too, and could sometimes make mistakes. But when all is done in the spirit of Christian Charity, you could tell that everyone means well, or that some people may simply be going through hard times. One mistaken director or two does not make the whole system bad. And frankly, I have seen very few organizations with systems that work as well as those Opus Dei—that is, if you consider what their aims are and how limited resources can be.