Opus Dei vs. Liberation Theology/ Opus Dei Myths?


I was reading about Opus Dei and remember reading a few times that supporters of liberation theology are often amongst the critics of opus dei. I also know someone into liberation theology who is against OD.
can someone help me out and explain why these people in particular would have a problem with it?

also I’ve read a lot of statements on wikepedia (the font of all knowledge…obviously lol) and wondered if there was any truth to them:

  1. Opus Dei is either a “cult”, or at least "cult-like

  2. under the 1950 constitution, members were expressly forbidden to reveal themselves without the permission of their superiors

  3. instructing numeraries to form friendships and attend social gatherings explicitly for recruiting purposes,[66] and even requiring regular written reports from its members about those friends who are potential recruits

  4. there used to be a time when numeraries submitted their incoming and outgoing mail to their superiors to read

  5. members are forbidden to read certain books without permission from their superiors

  6. Critics charge that Opus Dei pressures numeraries to sever contact with non-members, including their own families

  7. Is it a “church within a church”.

I’ve heard these as rumours etc before and thought I better ask.


oh wait the link for those who wanna see the sites sources.


Were you not satisfied with the replies to criticism in the Wikipedia article on Opus Dei: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_Dei#Replies_to_criticism

John Allen, Jr.,[29] Vittorio Messori,[101] Patrice de Plunkett,[102] Catholic journalists who did separate studies on Opus Dei, contend that Opus Dei has been falsely maligned.[103][11][89] John L. Allen, Jr. explained this view by saying: “There are two Opus Deis: an Opus Dei of myth and an Opus Dei of reality,” since he perceived that Opus Dei members generally practice what they preach.[104][105]

Allen says “Opus Dei cannot be called secretive.” Accusations of secrecy, he says, stem from mistakenly equating its members with monks and expecting members to behave as clerics. Instead, its lay members, like any normal professional, are ultimately responsible for their personal actions, and do not externally represent the prelature which provides them spiritual training. Opus Dei itself, he says, provides abundant information.[106] To explain the celibate lifestyle of numeraries and their relationship with their family, supporters quote Jesus’s comment that “He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”.[107] Catholic officials say that church authorities have even greater control of Opus Dei now that its head is a prelate appointed by the Pope and they argue members are “even more conscious of belonging to the Church”.[52][108]

Supporters deny that support of Franco during the Spanish Civil War was unique to Opus Dei. As John L. Allen, Jr. observed: “it’s worth noting that in the context of the Spanish Civil War, in which anticlerical Republican forces killed 13 bishops, 4,000 diocesan priests, 2,000 male religious, and 300 nuns, virtually every group and layer of life in the Catholic Church in Spain was ‘pro-Franco’.” He said that at the end of Franco’s regime, Opus Dei members were 50-50 for and against Franco. [109] Peter Berglar, a German historian and Opus Dei member, argued that connecting Opus Dei with the Franco government is a “gross slander,”[110] because there were notable members of Opus Dei who were vocal critics of the Franco Regime.[111] Similarly Álvaro del Portillo, the former Prelate of Opus Dei, said that any claims that Escrivá supported Hitler were “a patent falsehood,” that were part of “a slanderous campaign”.[112] He and others have stated that Escriva condemned Hitler as a “rogue”, a “racist” and a “tyrant”. [113] Allen said that Escriva was staunchly non-political, and repeatedly stressed that freedom is an essential element of Opus Dei. He said that Escriva’s relatively quick canonization does not have anything to do with power but with improvements in procedures and John Paul II’s decision to make Escriva’s sanctity and message known.[29] (see Opus Dei and politics)

Supporters of Opus Dei have also questioned the motives and reliability of some critics. Sociologists like Bryan R. Wilson point out that some former members of any religious group may have psychological or emotional motivations to criticize their former groups, and they claim that such individuals are prone to create fictitious “atrocity stories” which have no basis in reality.[114] Many supporters of Opus Dei have expressed the belief that the criticisms of Opus Dei stem from a generalized disapproval of spirituality, Christianity, or Catholicism. Expressing this sentiment, one Opus Dei member, Julian Cardinal Herranz, stated “Opus Dei has become a victim of Christianophobia.”[115] Massimo Introvigne, a sociologist, argues that critics employ the term “cult” in order to intentionally stigmatize Opus Dei because “they cannot tolerate ‘the return to religion’ of the secularized society”.[13]

On liberation theology, check this out too: cesnur.org/2005/mi_94.htm


A fine, fine reply Sayanz. Thank you very much for taking the time to type it out. :thumbsup:

I strongly encourage the OP to get a copy of John Allen’s book about Opus Dei. A lot of people are surprised by it because Allen is the Vatican correspondent who works for CNN, National Public Radio and the National Catholic Reporter. All three are not generally recognised for their accurate and sympathetic handling of orthodox Catholic issues, so it came as a surprise to many that Allen (particularly because of the NCR connection) wrote such a balanced and favourable portrait of Opus Dei.

I have had a lot of contact with members of Opus Dei over the years and have attended different spiritual retreats and conferences which they have sponsored. What has always edified me is the orthodoxy of their doctrine and their submission to the Holy Father. Like Allen, I have concluded that actual membership in the Work is not for me, but I continue to benefit from my association with them and hold them in generally very high esteem.


P.S., here’s a link to a good interview with John Allen about his book, which I think is worth a read. It’s interesting and provides further links, including links to things written by critics of his book who claim that he was duped or engaged in a whitewash of Opus Dei. Check it out.


thanks sayanz, I read the article which doesn’t mention salvation theology specifically. So, I’m assuming many have problems with its secrecy/cult-like, as they see it, ideas.

Does criticism of Opus Dei tend to come from one direction or position or is it widespread? My friend states her ideas on salvation theology as the reason behind her disagreement with Opus Dei and it’s that that I don’t understand.

are the two ideas in conflict completely or is their ground for concordance between the two ideas?


lol, I read the wrong article sayanz lol… will get back to you lol…the problems of firefox over explorer lol.



ok now THAT article made sense lol. :slight_smile:


I may be wrong; but it was my understanding that Opus Dei encourages a strong “professional” aspect among its members. Some adherents of Liberation theology may consider a capitalist economy as intrinsically immoral (with good reason), and may view the “professional” aspect of Opus Dei as promoting a socially destructive economic system.

This however is a misguided position. Liberation theology is about the liberation of the economically and socially oppressed, not about condemning or promoting a particular economic model. The concepts of Liberation Theology can be easily applied to a free market, capitalist economy.


I agree with that, I’m a supporter not of free trade but of fair trade and believe that you can support and free people from povert using the economy we have in a responsible way - applying the idea of charity to capitalism can easily be linked together.


As the article from CESNUR shows, liberation theology has a Marxist base, i.e. it interprets history and the world based on an atheistic, materialistic point of view, using class struggle and capitalist exploitation as a way of interpreting how societies move forward.

Of course, not all liberation theology is like this, but the main lines of liberation theology, as Ratzinger showed in his two documents on this (Liberatis Nuntius I think is one of them), is really Marxist based.

And as you know, Marxism and faithful Catholicism (God-centered, love-centered, prayer-based, laity in social politics while priests preach) don’t mix.


Nonsense! Of course absolute Marxism is not compatible with the Faith; However Liberation Theology does not embrace absolute Marxism; it supports neither Atheism or absolute materialism. .


Please take note of one of my points: “not all liberation theology is like this.”

I agree that “absolute Marxism is not compatible the Faith.” :slight_smile:


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