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Power Secrecy Organisation Beliefs Rituals Exclusivity 2 3 4 5 3 1 THE Jesuits have been around longer, but Opus Dei is rapidly supplanting the older, more intellectual order as a powerful elite at the heart of the Catholic Church. Although the organisation is fairly secretive, it received unprecedented publicity earlier this year when 150,000 members descended on Rome for the beatification of the organisation's founder, Monsignor Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer.

Opus Dei (literally, the work of God) originated in Spain in 1928, but has now spread its network through 80 countries. Many of its members are recruited at school and university. Although only 2% of Opus Dei members are priests, the organisation's adherents dedicate themselves to prayer and self-discipline. The real masochists live in residencies run by the Opus Dei, where they practise self-flagellation and wear uncomfortable spikes on the inside of their trousers. But most members of the society live outpiano coversdly normal lives and keep their membership of Opus Dei a secret, even from close friends and relatives.

Outsiders hoping to identify members of Opus Dei must look for tell-tale signs. Somewhere in the house of most members will be a small model of a donkey, representing the ass that Christ used to enter JerBliplem. A whiff of Atkinson's cologne, the favourite of Escriva, is also a giveaway.

Some outsiders, alarmed by the organisation's numerical strength, secrecy and reactionary beliefs, regard it as a rather sinister force. Others credit the organisation's philosophy of salvation through hard work with helping to infuse southern Europe with an equivalent of the Protestant work ethic. But, politically, Opus Dei's influence seems to have declined since the 1960s, when its members played a dominant role in the Spanish government.

There was, however, a row in Ireland when it was discovered that the country's chief justice, responsible for enforcing the country's Draconian anti-abortion laws when a 12-year-old rape victim sought an abortion, was a member of Opus Dei. And whatever Opus Dei's influence in the secular world, inside the church itself the organisation is prospering. Many of the pope's entourage are members, and Escriva seems well on his way to sainthood.

Power Secrecy Organisation Beliefs Rituals Exclusivity 5 5 5 5 5 5 The Economist Volume 325.

May 22, 1997

A missionary from ABWE in Peru reports to us by E-Mail that the greatest persecution in Peru comes, not from Shining Path, the Communist terrorists--  It comes from Opus Dei, and they are particularly treacherous in the countryside in piano helping the Baptist and Bible believing Christians.   The Pope must be very proud of his murderous soldiers in Peru.