Secret societies, by their nature, tend to attract a hilarious response or a sense of fascination. We smile indulgently at the image of the mason in his rolled-up trouser leg wearing his dinky little apron or at the thought of the Orangeman "riding the goat". Opus Dei is, however, a different kettle of stinking fish. It is a serious political organisation with a clearly defined agenda which has infiltrated the highest levels of government and, particularly, higher education. This book provides detailed evidence of their nefarious activities and their continuing manipulation of the controlling powers in a wide range of countries.
Opus Dei was founded by Josémaría Escrivá, the son of a petty-bourgeois bankrupt confectioner. (The soubriquet de Balaguer was a subsequently added affectation intended to separate him from the common surname of Escrivá and to imply a non-existent aristocratic pedigree). He comes across as a fundamentalist Christian, a monomaniac who was ideologically authoritarian. Naturally, he was a supporter of Franco and indeed it was under Franco that his organisation, Opus Dei, thrived. His innate fascism is recorded in his comment that Hitler had been "badly treated" by the world's media because "he could never have killed six million Jews. It could only have been four million at the most." !!! The communists, homosexuals and gypsies who were murdered by Hitler do not merit a mention. Escrivá also established the exercise of "pilleria" (dirty tricks) as justified on the grounds that "our life is a warfare of love and for Opus Dei all is fair in love and war."
Escrivá seems to have been influenced by the Asociación Católica Nacional de Propagandistas – a secular elite deployed to defend the interests of the Catholic Church and he built Opus Dei along similar lines, though he also involved clergy at the highest level (numeraries), laymen as supernumeraries and women in an inferior role as associates.
His sado-masochistic tendencies are reflected in his use of the cilicio – a medieval barbed metal bracelet attached around the thigh – and the discipline, a braided whip used as an instrument of penance. According to Hutchison, "he practised self-mortification with such ferocity that it caused his children to wince."
Opus Dei from the outset targeted people in higher education, what it called a university apostolate. "Intellectuals are like the snow-capped summits. When the snow melts, the waters pour down the valleys and make them fertile." This holy trickle-down approach is self-evidently as inadequate spiritually as we have experienced economically under Blatcherism.
Opus Dei as an organisation is multi-layered. The outer layer is for mass consumption and successive inner layers are reserved for the higher ranks in the hierarchy. It involves a dedicated and disciplined militia, troops of various ranks and stations whose function is to convert others and to oppose the spread of communism and particularly Islam.
Opus Dei members supported the Francoist cause during the Spanish Civil War describing it as a "crusade", a holy war accompanied by the same propensity for atrocity as during the Crusades of old. Escrivá, however, although telling his disciples he was prepared to become a martyr, let his tonsure grow out, removed his cassock (which he did not wear again until the Republic was defeated) and took to wearing his mothers' wedding ring. He also spent five months in a psychiatric clinic on the outskirts of Madrid where he learned to simulate the behaviour of the mentally ill. Some martyr!
The essence of Opus Dei is to be found in Escrivás' 5 writings, particularly his Maxims. Maxim 387 states " The standard that God asks of us is determined by these three points: holy intransigence, holy coercion and holy shamelessness." Maxim 941 "Obedience the sure way. Unreserved obedience to whoever is in charge... obedience in your apostolate, the only way." Maxim 623 "One must obey in every little detail, even if it seems useless and difficult. Do it! Maxim 59 "One's own mind is a bad adviser." This elimination of discernment, of individual judgement, is at the core of the cultic status of Opus Dei and its brainwashing of the individual to the extent where members are incapable of thinking for themselves is designed to ensure that they follow a pre-programmed agenda.
But Escrivá was not just interested in the spiritual well-being of his disciples. He was an intensely political animal, wishing to control not just higher education but also government ministries. His mission was to defeat the evils – as he saw them – of Anarchism, Liberalism and Marxism. And to gain entrance to heaven, members had to do battle for the church. This involved, among other things, sanitising education to erase Liberal influence and placing members in influential positions in government. A case in point is that of Carrero Blanco, Prime Minister of Spain who was unfortunately assassinated in December 1973. He was one of Opus Dei's strongest supporters. He also discovered that ETA explosives were more uplifting than prayer when the Basques blew his bullet-proof limousine over the rooftops into the next street.
Opus Dei has, in the past seventy years, spread its tentacles to many countries in Latin America, the Philippines and Africa. African and Asian countries with Islamic populations are a particular target with "hotspots" and "confrontation points" identified ranging from Algeria and Sudan to Bosnia and Iran. The irony of this is that they wish to replace one theocratic state with another form of spiritual tyranny which rigidly controls basic freedoms and denies human rights.
The manipulation of political power, especially in Italy, through graft and corruption is well documented as is the parallel economy dominated by intrigue, double-bookkeeping and murder. The names of Roberto Calvi (found hanged from scaffolding at Blackfriars Bridge, London in 1982), Michele Sindona (died in a Milan prison after drinking a poisoned cup of coffee), Cardinal Marcinkus and the Banco Ambrosiano are well enough known but they run like a dirty smear through the narrative of this book. The former prime ministers Andreotti and Berlusconi have also played significant roles in smoothing "The Way" for Opus Dei.
Opus Dei is a secret sect that has successfully removed itself from the hierarchic control of the Church. Secrecy is the enemy of an open, democratic society. It also has its own perverted sense of morality as is revealed in two passages from its confidential internal publication, CRONICA:
• The lesson is clear, crystal clear: all things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient.
• Dirty clothes are washed at home. The first manifestation of your dedication is not being so cowardly as to go outside the Work to wash the dirty clothes. That is if you want to be saints. If not, you are not needed here.
And this is the organisation whose most senior supporter is none other than Karl Wojtyla aka John Paul II. God save us!