OPUS DEI by Vittorio Messori


Leadership and Vision in Today's Catholic Church
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 A one-sided defense of the most controversial organization in the Catholic Church by Italian journalist Messori, whose interviews with John Paul II form the text of the pope's bestselling Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Opus Dei, founded in Spain in 1928 by a young priest, Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, now boasts over 80,000 members worldwide and the special favor of the pope. The organization provides a system of spiritual guidance to help members, mainly married laypeople known as supernumeraries, practice an unobtrusive Christian idealism in everyday secular, including professional, settings. Opus Dei priests are drawn only from the male numeraries, the group's inner circle whose members take a vow of celibacy. Messori describes the outstanding University of Navarre and the various student hostels and colleges that are open to people of all religions or none at all. Despite his claim to objectivity, Messori unabashedly idealizes the organization and its founder. Rather than following up in true journalistic fashion on the firsthand accounts of people who claim to have been harmed by Opus Dei, Messori is content to rebut criticisms merely by quoting statements of official policy and Opus Dei spokesmen, one of whom has written the introduction to this book. Messori writes off any criticism of Opus Dei as coming from malcontents and unorthodox Catholics, ignoring the fact that many devout believers, including bishops, have voiced concern about the organization's recruiting methods, its treatment of women, and the use of spiritual direction as a means of mind control (see Maria del Carmen Tapia, Beyond the Threshold, p. 788). Messori's text is poorly translated into cumbersome and at times incoherent English (e.g., ``Many have not forgiven Opus Dei for its opposition, or fealty to the Church.'') Messori's uncritical approach serves only to reinforce the authoritarian image of Opus Dei and raises more questions than it answers.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1997
ISBN: 0-89526-450-1
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997


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