Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Opus Dei has sometimes be described as an intellectual elite which wants to permeate key political, financial and cultural sectors to control them from within, although with good intentions. Is this true?

Almost all the institutions which have brought a new message or have seriously tried to serve mankind by living Christianity fully have met with misunderstanding, especially at the beginning. That is why at the start some people did not understand the doctrine on lay apostolate which Opus Dei lived and proclaimed.

I must also add — although I do not like to talk about these things — that in our case there was also an organised and persistent campaign of misrepresentation. There were people who said we acted secretly (perhaps this was their own way of behaving), that we wanted to occupy important positions, etc. To be more specific, I can say that this campaign was begun, about thirty years ago, by a Spanish religious who later left his order and the Church. He married in a registry office and is now a Protestant minister. Once misrepresentation starts it is carried along for a time by its own momentum: because there are people who write without checking their information, and then not everyone acts as do competent journalists who, realising they are not infallible, are honest enough to make amends when they find out the truth. And this is what has happened in this case even though these slanders are contradicted by evidence that is clear to everyone, not to mention the fact that they appear incredible right from the word go. Anyway all this gossip to which you have referred concerns only Spain, and anyone who thinks that an international organisation like Opus Dei gravitates around the problems of one country has a short sighted and provincial outlook.

The majority of the members of Opus Dei — in Spain and elsewhere — are housewives, workers, shopkeepers, clerks, etc., people whose jobs carry no special political or social weight. The fact that a large number of workers are members of Opus Dei attracts no attention; but one politician, plenty. As far as I'm concerned the vocation to Opus Dei of a railway porter is as important as that of a company director. It's God who does the calling and in the works of God there is no room for discrimination and still less if it is based on demagoguism.

Anyone who, on seeing members of Opus Dei working in all the different fields of human activity, thinks only in terms of 'influence' and 'control', is simply showing what a poor conception of Christian life he has. Opus Dei has no power, and wants no power, over any temporal activity. All it wants is to spread a Gospel message, to all men who live in the world that God wants them to love Him and serve Him by, with and through their secular activities. It follows that the members of Opus Dei, who are ordinary Christians, work wherever and however they like. The only thing the Work does is to help them spiritually, so that they can always act with a Christian conscience.

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