THEIR KINGDOM COME by Robert Hutchison


Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei
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An intensely, unconvincingly critical portrayal of the power behind the pope. Opus Dei (“the Work of God”) is a behind-the-scenes organization at the Vatican that seeks to promote the cause of Catholicism around the world. Its fundamentalist-like dedication has been compared to the early Jesuits’ mission to protect the pope and evangelize the world. To hear Hutchison tell it, though, Opus Dei is a dangerous, cloak-and-dagger operation that seeks to infiltrate the highest echelons of government in numerous countries. Hutchison lambastes Opus Dei for its “mantle of religious arrogance,” painting it as a serious threat to the Church. The book rather laboriously traces the Work’s history, beginning with its founder, Josemar°a Escriv†, who emerged from the backwoods of a poor Spanish town to a position of great influence in the Church. He claimed that God revealed the idea for Opus Dei to him in 1928, when he was a young priest. Hutchison sees it quite differently, claiming that Escriv† was a power-hungry megalomaniac who sought control of the Church in Spain. Through tumultuous times during the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s regime, Opus Dei persisted and grew, adding members from among the country’s elite. It eventually spread throughout Europe and became a significant force in the 1950s anti-Communist movement and the 1960s conservative rejection of Vatican II. Since Escriv†’s death in 1975, Opus Dei has extended its interests to counteracting the spread of Islam in the West. In 1992, Escriv† was beatified (the first step in the canonization process), a decision that makes Hutchison cry foul. He accuses Opus Dei’s powerful membership of steamrolling (and bankrolling) a campaign to sanctify its founder, about whom Hutchison has nothing positive to say. At one point he even hints that Escriv†’s doctoral degree was not earned but bestowed mysteriously by a powerful admirer. Fodder for the conspiracy theorists, fueled by Hutchison’s incendiary allegations and characterizations of Opus Dei as “a Mafia shrouded in white.” (16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19344-0
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999