question about Opus Dei

Hello everyone,

Please understand that this is a sincere question (and mods, if this is an inappropriate question, please feel free to delete this thread).

For a while now, I’ve been pondering a potential vocation with Opus Dei. I genuinely admire the organization and its members, and I feel as though its spirituality ‘clicks’ extremely well with my own. I have found the organization’s orthodoxy, its intensity/authenticity, and its emphasis on the ‘universal call to holiness’ to be particularly appealing.

But there’s one thing that has been troubling me. I had been told that membership in Opus Dei (including as a numerary) involves no vows - that members are always free to leave the organization even after initially joining it (when one realizes that he/she does not ultimately have a vocation with Opus Dei). Recently, I came across an excerpt from the Opus Dei Statues which stated:

29.“During temporary incorporation or when the definitive [incorporation] has already been made, for anyone to voluntarily leave the Praelature, he needs a dispensation which the Prelate alone can grant, after hearing from his own Council and Regional Commission”.
30.“The faithful, either temporarily or finally incorporated into the Prelature, cannot be dismissed except for serious causes which, if it is a question of final incorporation, always ought to proceed from the fault of the faithful person, himself”.
“Bad health is not a reason for dismissal unless it has certainly been established that it was deceitfully concealed or dissembled before temporary incorporation”.

I have also been told that if a numerary leaves the organization without a dispensation from the prelate, that he/she will have incurred mortal sin.

Is this true? Is there someone with experience with Opus Dei who could answer this question for me? This all has been very confusing to me. Thank you and I apologize for the long post.

I am not in Opus Dei, but you might find some useful info on this page.

Were you thinking of becoming a priest through being an Opus Dei Numerary, or did you have another level of participation in mind?

Laudate4, thanks for the posting.
I’m an ex-Opus Dei member so I can answer your question.
For one side Opus Dei claims that their members do not make vows and can leave whenever they want … but if they want to leave they need dispensation from the Prelate. So why they need dispensation if there are no vows? because that way they can persuade people to stay.
And you’re right, they tell you that if you leave without a proper dispensation, you are committing a sin.
Not many people have access to their Statutes (they’re only in Latin and it’s hard to find a translated one) so I admire that you way to the trouble of finding them.
But that’s not the only double speech inside Opus Dei.
For one side they said that their members are free to choose their confessor and their spiritual director. But once you join Opus Dei, both of them are assigned to you.
As an Opus Dei member can you have a confessor that is not an Opus Dei priest? No. Their point of view is that only an Opus Dei priest will understand your calling, so you can only go to them.
As most of you will recall, this was one of the admonitions that the Legionaries received, because their members were also discouraged to go out and receive spiritual assistance from other priests.
Answering Julia Mae, no one can join Opus Dei as a Numerary with the intention of becoming priest. The Prelate is the only one that can call someone to the priesthood.


Are you still Catholic? I see “Other”:confused:

Here you are: Code of Opus Dei

(Also in Spanish at Opus Libros, there’s a link at the site above.)

Luigi, thanks for your reply.
Of course that I’m catholic, if not I would not be participating of this blog.
Telling the truth is very catholic…
Julie Mae, thanks for the link.
As you may know Opus Dei is suing Opuslibros for posting those Status in their site :slight_smile:
They consider that is a private document and can not be posted online.
If you check Opus Dei’s official website you’ll see that is not posted there (they say that they are very open and do not hide anything, but their own Statutes are not publicly available).

Just because something is not broadcast doesn’t mean an organization is not open or is hiding something. Must a family post its pictures and itinerary and family notes, all family papers, etc., on line? Does not doing so mean they are hiding something?

Membership in Opus Dei is renewed once each year, on March 19.

Well, OD is secret by their own statutes, except where they want a public face and allow that. Kinda like the FBI!

Unless you are Fidelity.

Nonsense. Post your social security number for us.

The fact that there are normally private things is entirely unrelated to an enormous worldwide organization in the Catholic Church that has, by statute, the requirement to tell no one you are a member without permission. Let me know if you need the statute reference.

Also, responding to someone’s post by calling what they have written “nonsense” is quite rude. It is not at all nonsense, it is fact.

What’s rude is to make hairbrained claims with no data. You are without facts and you tend toward sensationalism. OD is not enormous. Maybe 90k members worldwide. That’s about 0.00006 of all Catholics. Enormous!

Seek truth and calm your self.

Waiting on your social security number.


My claims are neither nonsense nor “harebrained” and the data is publicly available. Here is a quote from a page on the topic:

Opus Dei is, by statute, a “secret society.” (N189-50, N194-50) Its workings are to be kept secret and the members are to live hidden in society. (N191-50, N111P2-82)

It is forbidden for members to reveal they are members without the permission of their Director.(N191-50) A member recruited as part of the “public face of Opus Dei” will be part of a defined group where all members are also part of the public face. They, themselves, do not know that the majority of the members of Opus Dei are bound to secrecy.

It is forbidden to wear any insignia that identifies you as a member of Opus Dei. (N192-50) For this reason, Opus Dei members do not know who else is in Opus Dei unless they have been specifically told.

It is forbidden to reveal the contents of the Constitutions or translate them into vernacular languages. (N193-50) Few Opus Dei members who are not in supervisory positions have read the Code.

Secret personal investigations are done on all members being recruited to Opus Dei. (N39-50)

I believe all the statutes mentioned are available on that page at this link.

Here are the two that are most relevant to this discussion.


By virtue of this collective humility, which is proper of our Institute [Opus Dei], whatever is done by the members is not attributable to itself; but rather, whatever good is attained by them is attributable to God alone. Consequently, even membership in [Opus Dei] admits no external manifestations. The number of members is kept hidden from outsiders; and indeed our people do not discuss these things with outsiders.


This collective humility leads our people to live the life which they consecrate to God with the same discretion which is most suited to the desired fruitfulness of the apostolate. ** The lack of this discretion can constitute a grave obstacle to exercising apostolic work or create some difficulty in the environment of one’s natural family or in the exercise of their office or profession. Thus the Numerary and Supernumerary members should know they are to live a prudent silence regarding the names of other members; and that they are never to reveal to anyone that they themselves belong to Opus Dei, **not even to spread the Institute, without express permission from their local director. This discretion especially binds those who are newly accepted in the Institute and also to those who, for whatever reason, have left the Institute. [Opus Dei] and some of its members, however, need to be known, because all our apostolic works develop and are carried out within the bounds of civil law and likewise, with the same strength of soul, each one of us, altogether shuns secrecy and clandestine activity, for the only thing which moves us to maintain this discretion is humility and a deeper and more fruitful apostolic efficacy.

So when you “joined” no one gave you a copy of the statutes?

Edward, wow! I didn’t know that you’re going to take it that way.
I think that you’re mixing things here.
I’m not a public church organization that people can join.
So to compare a social security number with the Statutes of a public organization… it’s like comparing apples and oranges.
If you want to join an organization at least you want to know which are going to be your obligations, and which ones are going to be the obligations of the organization.
Both parties have duties to perform, so how you’re going to join an organization if you don’t know what you’ll expect from them (and what they’ll expect from you).
If you’re an Opus Dei member, you’ll know that the Statutes are not publicly available, not even for the members.
So don’t get mad with me, get mad with them :slight_smile:
Cheers, and hugs

A moment’s thought about the putative meaning behind a statute would have led to a less sinister conclusion, at least by those less carried away with conspiracy theories.

Why might such a statute exist? To play secret agent games? Or maybe to encourage young people not to hide behind an organization or to use their affiliation for prideful or vain reasons, instead to rely on God helping to build virtue and nurse humility in them.

Maybe St Josemaria had some more pastoral reasons for what was placed in statutes, aimed at forming members.

Source: John Allen’s book

But no one here attributed any sinister motives to anyone or advanced any conspiracy theories. These are just the facts of how the organization was set up and operates.

Does the book have a name?

My point about the pastoral value should be reflected upon.

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