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Opus DeiAn Investigation Into the Powerful, Secretive Society Within the Catholic Church
By Walsh, Michael J.
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...(Continues...)
Excerpted from Opus Dei by Walsh, Michael J. Excerpted by permission.
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