You are, of course, aware of the somewhat controversial reputation enjoyed by Opus Dei in Spain in certain sections of public opinion. Could you give your opinion as to why this is so, and especially as to how one answers the charge of 'conspiratorial secrecy' and 'secret conspiracy' often levelled against Opus Dei?
I detest everything that could sound like self-praise, but since you have brought the subject up I cannot fail to say that in my opinion Opus Dei is one of the best-loved Catholic organisations in the world. Millions of people, and among them many non-Catholics and non-Christians, are good friends of the Work and help us in our apostolic activities.
Opus Dei is a spiritual and apostolic organisation. If one forgets this fundamental fact, or refuses to believe in the good faith of the members of the Work who affirm it, it is impossible to understand what we do. And this very lack of understanding can lead people to invent complicated stories and secrets which have never existed.
You speak of charges of secrecy. All that is now ancient history. I could explain, point by point, the origin of those calumnious charges. A powerful organisation, which I prefer not to name but which we esteem and have always esteemed, spent its energies over many years falsifying what it did not understand. They insisted on considering us monks or friars and asked, 'Why don't they all think the same way? Why don't they wear a religious habit or at least a badge?' And they reached the completely illogical conclusion that we were some sort of secret society.
Now all that belongs to the past. Any reasonably well informed person knows that there is nothing secret about Opus Dei. We do not wear a habit or badge because we are ordinary Christians, not religious. We do not all think the same way because we admit the greatest possible pluralism in all temporal matters and in debatable theological questions. A more accurate knowledge of the facts and the disappearance of unfounded fears have put an end to a situation in which false accusations were lamentably frequent.
It is not surprising, however, that every now and then someone tries to stir up old myths. The fact that we strive to work for God, defending the personal freedom of all men, means that we will always meet with the opposition of all the sectarian enemies of freedom. And they will be all the more aggressive if they are religious fanatics or people who cannot stand the idea of religion.
Fortunately, nonetheless, the majority of publications are not content with repeating old falsehoods and they realise that impartiality does not consist of publishing something halfway between reality and what detractors say, but rather in reflecting objective truth I personally feel the truth can also be 'news', especially when it is a question of giving information about the activities of the thousands of man and women who belong to Opus Dei or who cooperate with it, striving to carry out a task in benefit of mankind despite their personal errors I commit them and I am not surprised that others do so. Exploding a false myth is always worthwhile. To my mind a journalist has a grave moral obligation to look for accurate information and to keep up to date, even though it may imply changing previous judgements. Is it really so difficult to admit that something is noble, honest and good, without mixing in absurd, old-fashioned and discredited falsehoods?
It is easy to get to know Opus Dei. It works in broad daylight in all countries, with the full juridical recognition of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The name of its directors and of its apostolic undertakings are well-known. Anyone who wants information can obtain it without difficulty, contacting its directors or going to one of its centres. You yourself can testify that Opus Dei's directors and the personnel in charge of taking care of journalists never fail to offer all the necessary facilities, answering questions and giving out printed information.
Neither I nor any of the members of Opus Dei expect everyone to understand us or to share our spiritual ideals. I respect everyone's freedom and I want each person to follow his own path in life. But obviously we too have an elementary right to be respected.