Opus Dei: An Investigation Into the Powerful Secret Society within the Catholic Church

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An Inside Look at the Secretive Catholic Organization Made Famous by The Da Vinci Code

Is Opus Dei a spiritual institute dedicated to preserving Catholic orthodoxy in the face of modernist assault? Or is it an independent society, a "church within the Church," promoting its own allegiances and preserving an antiquated set of spiritual and penitential practices?

This small organization wields enormous power within the Catholic Church. Due to its...

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An Inside Look at the Secretive Catholic Organization Made Famous by The Da Vinci Code

Is Opus Dei a spiritual institute dedicated to preserving Catholic orthodoxy in the face of modernist assault? Or is it an independent society, a "church within the Church," promoting its own allegiances and preserving an antiquated set of spiritual and penitential practices?

This small organization wields enormous power within the Catholic Church. Due to its status as a "personal prelature" of the pope, it operates independently of local Church authority. The influence of Opus Dei has only grown since this book first appeared.

  • Opus Dei's founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá, was beatified and canonized over the vehement objections of many in the Catholic Church.
  • Powerful members of the Vatican hierarchy, including the pope's own spokesman, are members.
  • The bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code has made millions aware of Opus Dei.

This classic investigation is needed now more than ever. It tells the real story of this mysterious organization -- a probing but balanced examination of the organization, its charismatic founder, its practices, and its effect upon the Catholic Church at large.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060750688
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/11/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 817,493
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Walsh is the author of The Triumph of the Meek and editor of Butler's Lives of the Patron Saints.
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Read an Excerpt

Opus Dei

An Investigation Into the Powerful, Secretive Society Within the Catholic Church
By Walsh, Michael J.


ISBN: 0060750685

Chapter One

In Search of Opus

It is only some 200 kilometers from Cuzco, Peru's second city and former capital of the Incas, to the town of Abancay, yet so bad was the road that my journey in a Toyota land cruiser took all of ten hours. Abancay itself is a frontier town, deep in the Andes. Soldiers guard the entrances. Its inhabitants prefer to drive jeeptype vehicles or pick-up trucks, if they can afford any vehicle at all. Only a handful of the streets are metaled roads; most are little more than dirt tracks.

The building I had come to visit was just off one of these tracks. The wall around it was broken by an imposing gateway. Inside the wall there were a swimming pool and elegant flower beds. Two fountains were playing, one into a basin containing goldfish. I visited one of the two chapels standing in the garden. Behind the altar, set in an elaborate gold frame, there was a picture of the Holy Family: Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus to walk. It was painted in the Cuzceña style derived from the art the Spanish conquistadores had brought to Peru in the sixteenth century. The contrast between the world I had entered when I passed under the gateway arch, and the world along the dirt track outside could hardly have been greater.This was like the hacienda of some wealthy landowner. It was, in fact, a seminary, a place for training Roman Catholic clergy.

I was visiting it at the suggestion of Ken Duncan, an aid and development consultant who had heard that I was interested in the Catholic organization Opus Dei. Duncan, not himself a Catholic, had been taken aback by the activities of Opus in Peru and wanted to tell his experiences to someone who might draw attention to what he saw as unacceptable behavior on the part of the Opus clergy.

Despite its isolation I was able to make my way to Abancay and call at the seminary, the luxury of which, when compared with the bitter poverty of the people outside its walls, Duncan had found scandalous. The seminary, run by a handful of Opus Dei clergy from Spain in well-cut soutanes -- the long black gown which was once the everyday wear of Catholic priests in Europe -- was just as Duncan had described it. Like him, I was startled by the contrast between the poverty and squalor outside the walls and the comfort within, and by the incongruity of finding such an institution in the depths of the Andes.

Ken Duncan had often worked with Catholic organizations. He had high praise for many of them. He was, however, alarmed at the growing influence of Opus in Peru. He was even more alarmed when I told him of the size and complexity...


Excerpted from Opus Dei by Walsh, Michael J. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Introduction to the Paperback Edition vii
1. In Search of Opus 1
2. The Origins of Opus 21
3. The Years of Expansion 43
4. A Change of Status 67
5. The Constitutions of 1982 81
6. The Spirit of Opus 105
7. Politics and Business 131
8. Sectarian Catholicism 161
9. The Apotheosis of the Founder 189
Notes 201
Bibliography 209
Index 217
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2004

    A Bit Out of Date

    This wasn't the book I was looking for. It is a reprint of a book written in the late 80's and has not been updated except for a new introduction. Nothing is said about the beatification (1992) or the canonization (2002) of Josemaria Escriva, the man who started Opus Dei or any other recent developments. Also, Walsh keeps referring to the Constitutions of Opus Dei from 1950. These ceased to be effective in 1982 when Opus Dei became a personal prelature and they were replaced by a new set of statutes. Walsh is aware of this fact, so it is puzzling why he keeps referring to the 1950 Constitutions. Anyways, the book is almost entirely negative about Opus Dei and gave me little sense of what attracts people to it or how members of Opus Dei actually live.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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