“I am a secular priest: priest of Jesus-Christ, who loves passionately the world. (José María Escriba y Albás, homily delivered at the University of Navarre, Pamplona, October 8 1967)

“He [José Maria] always encouraged you to ‘love the world passionately (…) The earth, your Blessed Founder reminds us, is a pathway to heaven…” (Address of John Paul II to members of Opus Dei, January 12, 2002).


 Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.” James 4:4



In the following study I could have written about a plethora of contentious issues around which Opus Dei is associated: financial scandals, their overwhelming desire to gain power and influence over political and financial structures, their love of money, etc But these are secondary – certainly not necessarily trivial – issues, born out of the primary theological problems on which Opus Dei bases its pseudo-Catholic spirituality. The primary heresy of Opus Dei, I believe, over and above that of modernism, is liberalism and its attendant gnosis. On a purely superficial level, they may pronounce their faithful adherence to the dogmas but its liberalism tends to empty the dogmas of any real meaning. Although it is true that there is an inextricable link between modernism and liberalism, in a sense, the spirituality espoused by the “Work” (the commonly used term for “Opus Dei” among its members) is something even more insidious than the phenomenon of modernism (as generally understood in terms of “progression of doctrine”, etc). Modernists often cloak their errors or heresies under an opaque layer of ambiguity, but it is rare to see them hide their true spirit under such a thick layer of “conservatism”: pretensions of being fiercely loyal to the papacy and to the Church’s dogmas, and even occasionally, a faux and deceptive “traditionalism”. The reality is that Opus Dei, like Vatican II, advocates a liberal spirituality that calls for the full reconciliation between the Church with the principles of the Revolution, or in the words of Leo XIII, of attempting to reconcile “Christ and Belial” (Custodi Di Quella Fede, 1892). Therefore, while they outwardly preach a strict adherence to doctrine, with their liberal principles and radically lay-secular mentality they simultaneously undermine that which they claim to profess. Hence, Opus Dei can merely be seen as the (false) “conservative/right” flank in the Hegelian dialectic of the Conciliar Revolution, with the “left” flank comprised of figures like Rahner, Congar, Küng, etc.

The following statement by Tomás Gutiérrez Calzada, one of the heads of Opus Dei in Spain towards the end of the last century, encapsulates the problematic nature Opus Dei in the most concise manner possible; it is both an inadvertent admission of the core spirit which permeates the “Work” and a recognition that their opponents are not working on the basis of heterodoxy but are attacking their openly self-acknowledged liberalism: “we are attacked by the enemies of liberty” [1], or translated into plain English, “we are attacked by the enemies of liberalism”. Put another way, Mr Gutiérrez Calzada was not defending Opus Dei against its opponents on the basis of its orthodoxy (which it cannot claim) but on the basis of a self-acknowledged liberalism, otherwise he would have stated, “we are attacked by enemies of Catholicism”, or “by enemies of orthodoxy, by heretics, etc”. But he said no such thing. Therefore, they themselves are accurately aware of the novelty of their liberal spirit, even of the revolutionary nature of the Work, as we will progressively see over the course of this study. The “liberty” emanating from man’s divine like “human dignity” defended by Opus Dei and attacked by its opponents is the same that was officially promulgated at Vatican II and endorsed by the lodges, communists, and socialists around the world with enthusiastic applause during the course of the pseudo-Council and in the ensuing years. It is the “liberty” of religious freedom proclaimed by Dignitatis Humanae, which is the rightful inheritance of man now elevated to some kind of god-like ontological status, driving “Saint” John Paul II “The Great” – and ardent promoter of the Work – to ceaselessly praise and extoll man’s dignity as he criss-crossed the entire globe, simultaneously as the world’s Catholics continued falling ever further at accelerating speed into the abyss of universal apostasy. Christ the King thus dethroned by the newly emancipated “free” man and the promoters of “liberty” (among which Opus Dei holds a prominent place), Gaudium et Spes 12 could now boldly and confidently proclaim to a post-modern world that, “According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.”

In this work, I have used the name for the man known to the world as “Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Marquis of Peralta” as it appears in his baptismal certificate: José María Escriba y Albás. One would think that José María wanted to hide the fact that he was the carrier of a name of Jewish ancestry. Using his original name, “Escriba” is in part something of a symbolic gesture that demonstrates on the one hand, the duplicitous character of the “Work” and its “Founder”, and on the other, the very real possibility that Opus Dei may be a “Work” of crypto-Jewish origins. At the very least, in its resemblance with Freemasonry and certain gnostic themes of Jewish origin, it is already demonstrating that it is a close sibling to the secret society denounced by Leo XIII in Humanum Genus. In no way are we trying to denounce the Jewish race as such. If we were to do so, we would also have to denounce such eminent saints and mystics as St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, and the Ven. María de Jesús de Agreda, author of the spiritual masterpiece, Mystical City of God. Our objection is with the fact that Escriba should have felt it necessary to hide his likely Jewish heritage, something which genuine Jewish converts such as Israel Zolli never felt it necessary to do.

All translations from the French are mine; those in Spanish also except for a couple of cases where I was unable to find the original Spanish text.

Escriba proudly boasted of passionately loving the world, and encouraged his followers to do likewise, a love pointed to by Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II as if it were a sign of virtue, indeed “a pathway to Heaven”.

St Louis Marie-Grignion de Montfort on the other hand asked that in the Mystery of the Crowning with Thorns of the Holy Rosary we humbly ask God through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven for the grace to bear “a great contempt for the world”. These are two irreconcilable spiritualities opposed to each other as much as the Heavenly City is to the Earthly one.

May this work serve to illuminate consciences during these calamitous times, a small contribution for the reinstatement of Christ the King as rightful Lord with dominion over the universe and each individual soul.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

December 8, 2023, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of Spain

Part II - Secularism and Liberalism: the Twin Pillars of the "Work"

Part III - Work as Means of "Sanctification"

Part IV - Opus Dei: "Reconciling" the City of God and the City of Man

Part V - The Work: Precursor to Vatican II

Part VI - Escriba: a "vocation" to the world, not to Christ's Priesthood

A Jewish branch of Freemasonry?


“Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16)


Since its earliest beginnings, a cloud of suspicion has hung around the mysterious origins of Opus Dei, never fully explained satisfactorily, and on the orthodoxy of Opus Dei; illustrative of the opaqueness surrounding the “Founder’s” life; even to this day, there are questions on something which should be so clear and straightforward – particularly for a “canonized” “saint”! – as the specific details on the attainment of his theological degrees. [2] October 2, 1928 is the official “date” offered by the official hagiography of the “Work”, i.e. Opus Dei, for when Escriba allegedly received the heavenly inspiration to found Opus Dei. There are signs that a Catholic movement known as “Opus Dei” was not active until the early thirties, but in any case, it was not long before Opus Dei was accused of being a Jewish branch of masonry – such a serious charge is hardly the type of accusation that one would expect to be levelled against a nascent religious movement, and therefore it stands to reason that it must have been a well-founded one. In post-civil war Spain, an investigative military tribunal was set up to fight against the influence of Freemasonry and communism, and proceedings were eventually brought before Opus Dei in 1941 due to signs that, as the author of Opus Judaei recounts, “under the name of Opus Dei a Jewish branch of masonry was hidden.” [3] That Opus Dei was under investigation by a military tribunal against masonry in Franco’s Spain are not merely unfounded rumours spread by the declared enemies of the “Work”, but is even admitted by the “Founder’s” official biographers, such as Salvador Bernal in his work Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer: “They accused Opus Dei of being a ‘Jewish branch’ of the masons, or ‘a Jewish sect in contact with masons.’ ” [4]

There was great opposition among many Spanish Catholics to the Work since its earliest days. Barcelona, perhaps paradoxically, which had just suffered under the extreme anti-religious and atheistic regime of the “Republicans” during the Civil War (and hence celebrated their liberation in 1939 with all the greater fervour), was now converted into one of the most prominent centers where Opus Dei’s purported connection with masonry and the duplicitous nature of the “Father” were denounced before the relevant authorities. [5] According to another of the Escriba’s official biographers, Dominique Le Tourneau, the governor of Barcelona gave the order to have Escriba arrested once he set foot within the area of his jurisdiction. [6] An ambassador friend of Escriba warned him that his own life was in danger should he travel to the region. [7] Even the Carmelite nuns of the city got wind of the duplicity surrounding Escriba and his Work, and the good nuns promptly set about publicly burning the copies they could get hold of Escriba’s 999 maxims known as Camino (“the Way” – his way, not Christ’s, of course). [8] Meanwhile in Madrid, according to Bernal, “the gravity of the situation was reaching a climax where associates of the Work were accused of being ‘masons.’ ” [9] One of the oratories which the Work opened in Madrid was said to have been adorned with masonic and Kabbalistic signs. [10] The rumours of Opus Dei’s heterodoxy did not stay confined within Spanish territory but travelled at least as far as the corridors of the Vatican itself: the Dominican Fr Severino Alvarez, Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Angelicum in Rome in 1950 told of the accusations which had been levelled against the Work in the Holy Office itself. [11] The key importance of Camino in Escriba’s spirituality (inseparably united with the cult status of the “Founder”) is demonstrated by the confession of a member, who admitted that, “from the 60’s onward, I saw no other gospel than Camino, and no other prophet than Josemaría Escrivá.” [12] As we will see, none other than Giovanni Battista Montini/Paul VI incorporated Camino in his spiritual life, while Escriba’s right hand man, “Blessed” Álvaro del Portillo admitted after the “Founder’s” death that Camino reflected the modernist spirituality later endorsed at Vatican II.

The well-known obsession of Opus Dei and the “Father” with secrecy makes the sect akin to all secret societies, which, by definition, must zealously guard their secrets and plans of action. Therefore, just in this respect alone, Opus Dei shares an important affinity with Freemasonry, for which, together with its obvious quest to increase its power, money, and influence, have led many to describe the sect as “ecclesiastical freemasonry”. The “Father’s” obsession with secrecy was even admitted by Antonio Pérez, who intimately knew Escriba and was for a time his personal secretary: “The Father was always greatly concerned about maintaining secrecy. This made him apply in these subjects the same strategy as in internal matters, that is, that only a few at the very top were aware of them and negotiated them with those directly responsible.” [13] Camino, the reference work par excellence for Opus Dei members, has numerous references about the necessity to maintain a strict secrecy (e.g. numbers 639, 654, 840, and 970). Daniel Artigues in his 1971 book titled, El Opus Dei en España said regarding the Work’s notorious obsession with secrecy that, “this concern for discretion, as Opus Dei members describe it, this cult for secrecy, as claimed by its adversaries, is one of the essential characteristics of the Work.” [14] The culture of secrecy even reaches the point of not being obliged to tell potential members of their duties once they are incorporated into Opus Dei. According to the “Catechism of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei”, 2003 edition, no. 67: “In order for incorporation to be valid, a virtual intention to take up the corresponding duties is sufficient, even if there is no actual forewarning at the moment of incorporation.” [15] Which is to say, at the moment of entering the Work, Opus Dei is under no obligation to tell new members of all their duties and of its spiritual outlook; information which – like in any sect – is instead transmitted little by little dropwise to the new adepts as they progress through their gnostic “illumination” or “initiation” in order to prevent a wholesale initial rejection.

Against the culture of secrecy which surrounds gnostic sects like Opus Dei, the abbé Emmanuel Barbier, in his 1910 work Les Infiltrations Maçonniques dans l’Église (“Masonic Infiltrations Inside the Church”, pp. 249-250) said that the only path available to the genuine Catholic, who is a “son of the light”, even if external circumstances would seem to require it, is a firm repudiation of secrecy:

The Catholic is a son of the light. Simple common sense indicates that if, under the pretext of moving more freely or surely towards one’s goal, he seeks dark and secret paths, he will fatally find, one day or another, that he walks side by side with the children of darkness at the risk of being led astray by those in a labyrinth of which they alone know its secrets….However, even then, the principle of Catholic action remains unchanged: it is to carry on in clear transparency. Anything else is an illusion….One must be blind not to see that any occult organization is a fertile terrain for infiltrations [of the kind] that we must dread so much.” Emmanuel Barbier further reveals that, according to a note recorded in “Acta S. Sedis” documenting the renewed denunciation against secret societies, particularly Freemasonry and other anti-clerical societies, issued by the Holy Office on 18 May 1884, “the prohibitions of the Church concern all secret societies, regardless of whether or not they require an oath; because they are societies contrary to natural law.” (ibid, p 251)

Another important characteristic of the “Work” which assimilates it to a gnostic sect such as Freemasonry is its tendency towards “elitism”, driving its associates to view themselves as members of a perfect Church of the elect – neo-Jansenists or neo-Calvinists, if you will –, and the more fanatically so the more they are inwardly “illuminated” by the gnostic teachings of the “Father”. At the very least, there is a tendency towards spiritual pride that inclines members of the Work to view their apostolate and their liberal, lay spirituality with an air of superiority and pride over the other charisms and religious orders of the Church; they thus represent the “upper echelon” of the Church joining non-believers around the world in the construction of the “Earthly City” – not the “Catholic City”! Point number 16 in Camino points its readers to set themselves apart from the rest of the “crowd” – which in those days would have been a Catholic majority, this was still 30’s Spain – in a state of prideful superiority, so that they can set their sights on the highest goals: “You – turning towards the mediocre? But if you have been born to be a leader!” Escriba himself seems to have taken this “spiritual” maxim particularly to heart: besides his megalomaniac ambitions for the Work, he himself lobbied at least two times for the “post” of bishop during Pius XII’s papacy, refused both times at least in part due to questions about his psychological state.

The Spanish former numerary María Angustias Moreno, who suffered with heroic patience the unspeakable slander directed by Opus Dei against her for her efforts at unmasking the sect, thus says regarding the gnostic elitism of the Work: “...as soon as one arrives, they inculcate ceaselessly that being in the Work is something marvellous, the best and grandest thing in the world. Something which, as a natural consequence, leads to viewing others from a pedestal: one begins to be illumined on the great mysteries, being chosen among thousands to form part of a perfect body [of believers]; the rest - what a pity! - they remain there below surrounded by the darkness of error...By the fact of being in the Work, one will always be correct....Because the 'Father' is never wrong, and in the Work everything goes through the 'Father'; 'you must pass everything through my mind and my heart', Escrivá told directors numerous times.” [16] The slander suffered by Moreno is such a serious offence revealing the true “face” of Opus Dei that it deserves to be described in some more detail. For writing El Opus Dei – Anexo a una Historia, an exposé of Opus Dei from the perspective of a former numerary, a group of priests which included the vice-postulator for the “beatification” cause of “Saint” “Josemaría Escrivá” (one Don Benito Badrinas Amat), travelled around the country warning a group of former members who had publicly shown their support for Moreno to keep away from her because she was a notorious “lesbian”. In today’s current climate this “charge” might be worn as a badge of honour, but in the Spain of 1977 in which this public campaign of defacement and slander took place, such a charge could easily ruin one's social reputation and prospects for employment. María Angustias describes the exchange that took place when Rafael Moreno, her brother, confronted one of the priests responsible for the public campaign of calumny: “Rafael Moreno intervened by asking whether he [the priest] believed that in the name of God, in order to save or defend any kind of ‘thing’, slander could be justified; to which the priest replied by shrugging his shoulders:…‘it depends…  ” [17]

In their calumny against María Angustias, were these priests justifying their vile crime and sin on the basis of “el apostolado de la mala lengua», described in Camino 850, a phrase which could be roughly translated as “the apostolate of the insult” or quite simply as, “the apostolate of calumny” (“mala lengua” literally means, “bad tongue”). Escriba in point 850 of Camino says next: “Cuando te vea ya te diré al oído un repertorio.” That is, “Next time I see you I will tell you secretly an entire repertoire.” (Apparently, Escriba thought it important to always have ready at hand the appropriate insult against whomever stood in his way or by whom in his inflated pride he felt offended in some way…) These bad priests could also have interiorly justified their evil actions on the basis of Camino, no. 387, calling his followers to show: “Holy intransigence, holy coercion, and holy shamelessness [desvergüenza]” (An unholy trinity which “St” “Josemaría” describes in the same point as, “The standard of holiness that God asks of us [!].”) And like all sects of the gnostic variety, not only is the Work concerned with maintaining its affairs and doctrine with a perfect and scrupulous secrecy, it demands of its associates, not merely obedience, but a blind obedience which has nothing to do with the Christian concept and, as the sad experience of sects so often demonstrates, is invariably the source of the worst imaginable abuses: psychological, spiritual, and even occasionally, physical ones. Thus maxim number 941 of Camino reads: “Obedience…, a sure path. – BLINDLY OBEYING the superior…, path of holiness. – Obedience in your apostolate…, the only way: because, in a work of God, the [correct] spirit must be to obey or [otherwise] leave.” Interestingly but not surprisingly, the official English version uses a somewhat softer translation, calling for “unreserved obedience”, while the Spanish is unequivocal in its call to “obedecer ciegamente”, literally, “to obey blindly”. Other points in Camino are designed to engender an attitude of blind, unthinking obedience towards superiors: “That critical spirit…is a great hindrance.” (no. 53)”, and “Who are you, to deny the sound judgment of your superior?” (no. 457)

The Spaniard Mariano Sánchez Covisa wrote a letter in early 1992 titled El caso Escrivá, warning Catholics of good faith within the Work about the true nature of Opus Dei. Significantly, he stated that he was basing his letter on Leo XIII’s call in the encyclical Humanum Genus to unmask the deception of masonry: It must be known that Opus Dei, which name is an esoteric translation for [the occult practice of] Theurgy, is a secret Jewish branch of masonry, with an enormous economic and financial network, and holding a powerful political influence in Spain as well as abroad…Opus Dei is not a type of masonry, it is masonry.” [18] Salvador Bernal, Escriba’s official biographer recounts the “Father” describing how he overcome the difficulties during his early apostolate in strangely cryptic terms that cannot fail to raise an eyebrow in the reader: “What can a creature that must carry out a mission do, without means, or enough experience, knowledge, virtue, or anything else? He must go to his mother and his father, go to those who have the means, ask friends for help… That is what I did in the spiritual life. But of course, with discipline, carrying the compass.” (Nowhere here does he mention having recourse to God in the midst of whatever difficulties he was facing.) [19]

The somewhat eerie-looking official symbol or emblem of Opus Dei certainly deserves careful scrutiny. First of all, the mere sight of this “crucifix” induces a certain sense of unease with one’s sensus catholicus informing us that something appears amiss with what purports to be a representation of the Christian symbol par excellence. What exactly do we find there? A Christ-less “cross” – really, two intersecting lines in the form of a Latin cross – with a rose at the bottom; one would think we are dealing here with the rose-croix of Rosicrucianism, which also refers to the 18th degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The rose in the work’s official emblem is not merely some stylistic feature placed there for its aesthetic effect, but is a sign featuring prominently throughout the Work’s visual imagery. The “logo” of Rialp, Opus Dei’s official publishing house is none other than a rose, while the rose also features prominently in the entirely new Marian shrine of Torreciudad, entirely built out of the Work’s own coffers and criticized for the suspected huge squandering of financial resources that its construction involved.

Multiple esoteric meanings can be ascribed to the rose, and at least in the opening discourse of the Zohar, the major text of the Jewish Kabbalah, the rose designates the Shekinah, the female “aspect” of the God-head (Ein-sof), the divine presence itself of the Knesset Yisrael or “the community of Israel”. Certainly, everything points to the Work’s emblem as having to do more with the Kabbalah and the Shekinah than with anything related to Christ’s redemption at the cross. Opus Dei is formally known as the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. Upon some investigation one comes upon the surprising – and unsettling – finding that both the reference to “Holy Cross” and “Opus Dei” in the official name despite their ostensible Catholic meanings can also be interpreted in an esoteric-gnostic sense. According to the Jewish historian Cecil Roth, author of Historia de los Marranos (“History of the Marranos”), “Holy Cross” was a code name used by the Marranos (crypto-Jews) to evade persecution: “In Barcelona, if a Marrano said, ‘let us go to the Church of the Holy Cross’, he was referring to the secret synagogue called by that name.” [20] When it comes to “Opus Dei”, the “Work” of alchemy (which has very clear gnostic-Hermetic and Kabbalistic roots) was traditionally known as the magnum opus, the great Work, and what is greater than the “Work of God – the Opus Dei”?

According to the official hagiography, Escriba was inspired to found the “Priestly Society of the Holy Cross” during the celebration of holy mass, on the date of February 14, 1943. After mass, he wrote the name for his new society: “Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis” eventually constituted for the purpose of ordaining priests for the Prelature of Opus Dei, while drawing on his notebook on the page for February 14, the Feast of St Valentine, its new symbol: a “cross” perfectly circumscribed by a circle. (February 14, 1930, is also coincidentally the “official” date marking the founding of the “women’s” section of Opus Dei.) I believe that we should take careful notice of this date, all the more so considering that the official hagiography which is only loosely concerned with actual facts here takes pains to highlight two points: the date of this alleged “inspiration”, and the “Feast” corresponding to that date, namely, St Valentine. This loose concern with facts is particularly true for the somewhat opaque early beginnings of Opus Dei, so that there is good reason to ascribe a given date of such significance with symbolic rather than factual meaning. Now, if we consider all the strange details of the emblem of Opus Dei (and its official name, “Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei”) which “coincidentally” bear a striking connection to several gnostic or Kabbalistic themes, together with the gnostic character of the Work and its theology, it is difficult to believe that the name Valentinus associated with the given date is purely coincidental. St Valentine is of course the universally known Catholic saint whose feast day is celebrated on February 14. But, as it turns out, the gnostics also celebrate what can be considered their “patron” saint, “Saint” Valentinus – the founder of the important Valentinian Gnostic sect of classical antiquity – on the same day as that for the Catholic St Valentine. It has been argued that the major gnostic systems developed after Valentinian gnosticism in some manner or other represent “offshoots” of the ancient Classical system (in accordingly modified form, evidently); the gnosis of the Silesian Jacob Boehme which ascribes a significant role to Sophia in its gnostic theology probably serves as a good example.

Valentinian theology, moreover, provides an adequate exegesis that accounts for the un-Christian looking “cross” constituting the Work’s emblem, and also accounts for many aspects of Escriba’s opaque theology – particularly that which relates to the Kabbalistic doctrine of coincidentia oppositorum, or coincidence of opposites, of which we will have more to say on later. For the moment, we will simply say that, having read what follows from a “homily” by a modern neo-gnostic “cleric”, Escriba’s heterodox sounding statement in his landmark homily from October 8, 1967, calling on his followers to unite heaven and earth in their hearts, and other scattered statements expressing a similar idea, can finally be clearly interpreted. The “Rev. Steven Marshall” of the Ecclesia Gnostica in his “homily” delivered for the “Day of the Holy Valentinus”, describes the cross as “a particularly apt symbol for the divine marriage.” This is the “divine marriage” of opposites symbolically represented in Valentinian gnosticism by the “bridal chamber” (and which we believe is implicitly taught in John Paul II’s gnosis known as the “Theology of the Body”). Continuing, he describes the importance of the “cross” in the gnostic tradition, particularly as it relates to the doctrine of coincidentia oppositorum:

Indeed, there are more references to the cross as a holy symbol in the Gnostic literature, a symbol of transcendence and union, than exists in the entire canon of the Bible. The horizontal bar of the cross represents the pairs of opposites in the world, the marriage in the world. The vertical bar of the cross represents the union of the below with the above, the celestial or heavenly marriage of the Gnostic bridechamber. We must perfect the vertical union, before the horizontal union can be truly realized. Through union of the above and the below, the outer and the inner, we can become united with all living souls. As expressed so beautifully in one of our occasional collects, “...until we awaken to our true estate in Thee, and living in unity and concord attain to Thy Gnosis in which there is no division or separateness, but only unity with Thee and through Thee with all other souls.” [21]

For Escriba, the vocation of every man (and not just the Christian) as image and likeness of God is to be Christ himself, “not just another Christ, but Christ Himself”. (Christ is Passing by, no. 104) In this universal call for holiness to live out the divine live in the midst of the world, a call which includes pagans and non-believers (the “People of God” defined according to Vatican II) is the seed for the pan-ecumenist and non-confessional, lay character that defines the Work. This sense of gnostic, universal “divine filiation” is the foundation of its spirituality: “The founder, enriched by this special sense of his divine filiation, infused this truth into every aspect of the Work's spirituality….The reality of one's divine filiation came to inform the entire spirit of Opus Dei and the life of piety of each of its members, leading them to the authentic freedom of the children of God.” [22]

Escriba in a spiritual meditation that he gave in 1963 described that in the midst of the most mundane of circumstances, simply walking through the streets of Madrid on October 16, 1931, he had an experience of spiritual illumination that led to his full understanding of his ontological relationship with God: “When God sent me those blows back in 1931, I didn't understand it… Then suddenly, in the midst of such great bitterness, came the words: ‘You are my son’ (Ps 2:7), you are Christ. And I could only stammer: Abba, Pater! Abba, Pater! Abba! Abba! Abba! Now I see it with new light, like a new discovery... You've led me, Lord, to understand that…to find the Cross is to identify oneself with Christ, to be Christ, and therefore to be a son of God.” [23] Therefore, first of all, Escriba associates himself in relationship to Christ, not as alter Christus, but as ipse Christus. Secondly, the “cross” (the gnostic “cross”, that is) is the symbolic representation denoting one’s ontological identification with Christ (that is, an equality relating to the innermost being). That this union with Christ is not merely one of likeness or participation in God’s supernatural life is made clear by Ernst Burkhart and Javier Lopez, the two official theologians of the Work who have written a three volume series titled Vida Cotidiana y Santidad En La Enseñanza de San Josemaría, (“Ordinary Life and Holiness in the Teaching of Saint Josemaría”) outlining the “Father’s” theology in detail. In volume two, the authors cite the modernist Jesuit Émile Mersch to underscore the point we have just made: “The Lord has revealed that between the Incarnate Word and the Christian there is something more than a union of love, even though it is ardent; there is something more than a relation of likeness, no matter how accurate it might be; there is something more than dependence, in spite of the fact that it is complete….There is a physical union, we might say, as long as we do not put this word at the same level as simple natural unions. It is a real union in any case, an ontological union.” [24] This is therefore the gnosis revealed in the Work: each and every single man, regardless of whether they accept Christ (cf John 1:12), is ipse Christus, and is accordingly called to sanctify and be sanctified by the world in this capacity. The gnostic “cross” of Opus Dei’s official emblem is the reminder or representation that this ontic status is the rightful inheritance of its members. The circle circumscribing the gnostic “cross” according to one interpretation represents the world, so that the Work’s members are called to act as “Christ” (represented by the “cross”) in the world, a world which equally can be conflated with Christ himself. The ontological separation between the self, the world, and Christ thus becomes blurred and eschatological hopes and aspirations are thus increasingly “immanentized”.

What we can know about the activities of Opus Dei since its early years, but even more importantly, the teachings of the “Founder” and the radically lay, liberal, and modernist spirituality of the Work do absolutely nothing to dispel suspicions of some kind of collaboration between Opus Dei and international Freemasonry. Of the radically liberal spirituality of the Work we will have much more to say later, but for the moment let us see with a very remarkable and revealing example relating to Mario Conde (the Spanish multi-millionaire who presided over the bankruptcy of the important Spanish bank Banesto), what kind of connections Opus Dei sees fit to have with Freemasonry in practice, despite statements here and there by its associates condemning masonry. As always, when trying to decipher liberals’ and modernists’ statements, it is imperative to look even more carefully at their actions, which is the most reliable hermeneutic key in order to look past their commonly practiced obfuscation, opaqueness, and ambiguity. In an interview of the Italian journalist Fabio Andriola with the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, the lawyer Virgilio Gaito, Andriola asked him: “What are the relations between you [i.e. the Grand Orient] and the so called ‘Catholic masonry’’ ‘I think’, Gaito replied, ‘that Opus Dei has a very vast universal vision This Mario Conde…[who] today has the honour of appearing in the headlines is a famous representative of Opus Dei and he is also in the board of directors of a certain company whose head is the former Grand Master Di Bernardo.’ ” [25] So from this we know unequivocally that Conde at the time of the interview was a “representative of Opus Dei”, which could in principle mean anything from being a so called “co-operator” to a numerary, while it is very strongly suggested that Conde had some kind of very close relationship with Freemasonry. It must be born in mind that Gaito is here making the Opus Dei – Freemasonry connection relating to a single individual (Mario Conde) in the context of the wider question posed by journalist Gaito on the relations between “Catholic masonry” and Freemasonry (here presumably referring to the Grand Orient). This very close relationship between Conde and Freemasonry is further and unequivocally confirmed by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Spain, Mr Gabaldón, who in a conference from 2012 stated that, “…while the businessman [Conde] is in a latent phase, he continues collaborating with the lodge whenever he can and on many occasions he teaches and gives talks [on masonry] to the brethren that are going to join the association.” Lest any confusion arise about Conde’s current “latent” status within the Lodge, Mr Gabaldón takes care to clarify that it was simply a measure taken during the judicial investigations into Banesto’s corrupt dealings: “When he realized what was coming upon him he decided to ‘descend into sleep-mode’ to avoid this way being expelled from the lodge.” [26]


1.     Opus Judaei –  Jose Maria Escriba, Colombia, by “Alfonso  Carlos de Borbón”, p 133.

2.     LOS ESTUDIOS ACADÉMICOS DE SAN JOSEMARÍA ESCRIVÁ Y ALBÁS, Claretianum, vol. XLIX, 2009, Giancarlo Rocca.

3.     Opus Judaei, p 132.

4.     Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer, Salvador Bernal, p. 280, Rialp publishing house.

5.     Opus Judaei, p 132.

6.     D. LE TOURNEAU, L’ Opus Dei, P.U.D.F., Paris 1984.

7.     Opus Judaei, p 132, note no. 198.

8.     Sodalitium, Oct-Nov 1996, “Encore sur L’Opus Dei”, by abbé Curzio Nitoglia, p 58, ref. no. 3.

9.     Bernal, p 249.

10.  Opus Judaei, p 132.

11.  Ibid., p 186.

12.  Ibid., p 93.

13.  Ibid., p 18.

14.  Ibid., p 16.

15.  Original Spanish text: “Para que la incorporación sea válida, es suficiente la intención virtual de asumir las obligaciones correspondientes, aunque no haya una advertencia actual en el momento de la incorporación.” Extracted from Lo Que Pasó a Ser el Opus Dei, by “Bruno Devos”, Chapter 11: De La Discreción al Secretismo. Available from https://opus-info.org/index.php/De_la_discreci%C3%B3n_al_secretismo#cite_note-6

16.  El Opus Dei, Anexo a una Historia, María Angustias Moreno, p 61.

17.  María Angustias Moreno, La Otra Cara del Opus Dei, Chapter II: “Desprestigio como estilo de defensa” (I).

18.  Opus Judaei, p 145.

19.  SALVADOR BERNAL, Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei; Rialp, Madrid 1980, 6ª ed., pp. 199-200. While it is true that the Spanish original “llevando el compás” could also be translated as “keeping the beat” (a phrase sounding oddly out of place in the context, and which in any case suggests someone directing the “beat”), perhaps we are dealing here with the ambiguous duplicity of someone winking his eye to those “in the know”…

20.  Opus Judaei, p 175.

21.  “A Homily for the Day of the Holy Valentinus” by Rev. Steven Marshall: The Mystery of Divine Love http://gnosis.org/ecclesia/homily_Valentinus.htm

22.  Blessed Josemaria Escriva – Founder of Opus Dei, Bulletin, September 1999, New York, pp 6-7.

23.  Ibid, p 7.

24.  Vida Cotidiana y Santidad En La Enseñanza de San Josemaría, Rialp, (2011) Vol. II, p. 85.

25.  Sodalitium, Oct-Nov 1996, “Encore sur L’Opus Dei”, by abbé Curzio Nitoglia, p 58, ref. no. 4.

26.  “Mario Conde sigue dando clases en la masonería”, Diario de León, 18 DE MAYO DE 2012.


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