Thursday, 14 October 2010
CASE 111 - Opus Dei
Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei (Latin: Prelatura Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei), is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests under the governance of a prelate (bishop) appointed by the pope. Opus Dei is Latin for "Work of God", hence the organization is often referred to by members and supporters as "the Work".
Founded in Spain in 1928 by the Catholic priest St. Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei was given final approval in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In 1982, by decision of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church made it into a personal prelature—that is, the jurisdiction of its own bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses.
Members of the Prelature numbered almost 90,000 with almost 2000 priests in the year 2009. They are in more than 90 countries. About 70% of Opus Dei members live in their private homes, leading traditional Catholic family lives with secular careers, while the other 30% are celibate, of whom the majority live in Opus Dei centers. Opus Dei organizes training in Catholic spirituality applied to daily life. Aside from personal charity and social work, Opus Dei members are involved in running universities, university residences, schools, publishing houses, and technical and agricultural training centers.
Opus Dei has been described as the most controversial force within the Catholic Church. According to several journalists who studied Opus Dei separately, most of the criticisms against Opus Dei are mere myths created by its opponents, and Opus Dei is considered a sign of contradiction. Several popes and other Catholic leaders have endorsed what they see as its innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, and its fidelity to Catholic beliefs. In 2002, in a move interpreted by both sides of the debate as signaling his approval of Opus Dei, Pope John Paul II canonized Escrivá, and called him "the saint of ordinary life."
Controversies about Opus Dei have centered around criticisms of its alleged secretiveness, its recruiting methods, the alleged strict rules governing members, the practice by celibate members of mortification of the flesh, its alleged elitism and misogyny, the alleged right-leaning politics of most of its members, and the alleged participation by some in authoritarian or extreme right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978.Within the Catholic Church, Opus Dei is also criticized for allegedly seeking independence and more influence.
In recent years, Opus Dei has received international attention due to the novel The Da Vinci Code and its film version of 2006, both of which many prominent Christians and non-believers protested as misleadingly inaccurate and anti-Catholic