Escriba y Albás (left), John XXIII and Álvaro del Portillo (right), Escriba's right hand man.

Secularism and liberalism: the twin pillars of the “Work”

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

 “ ‘there are heretics who believe in his [Christ’s] divinity, but who completely reject that He should be King in all places. Without doubt they offer Him incense but they refuse to also offer Him gold.’ These kinds of heretics still exist, and they are called liberal Catholics.” [1] (Mons. Henri Delassus citing sermon no. 10 from St Gregory the Great for the feast of the Epiphany.)

 In order to understand the core spirit which animates Opus Dei in its action and “apostolate” it is necessary to first understand liberalism. For many – but by no means all – of its activities from an external point of view can appear perfectly orthodox, and these are precisely the ones that tend to draw unsuspecting, perhaps gullible Catholics into the arms of the Work. But it is the intentionally lay, modernist spirit undergirding the Work’s activities as a whole that completely pervert or even invert any pretensions for Catholicity into something utterly alien to a true Christian spirit. The call for Christians to strive for sanctity and perfection is nothing novel; Christ himself makes the call when he states, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Just in this respect alone Opus Dei reveals its duplicitous character because they are appropriating a call for holiness which is not their own, but in reality goes back to apostolic times and has been repeated ever since in various ways by countless holy souls over the centuries. What is novel and revolutionary is the modernist, liberal spirit permeating the activity of the Work, which it carries out by infiltrating societies and the Church in order to create a lay mentality that runs contrary to the social Kingship of Christ that preceded and was eventually fully endorsed by Vatican II. John Paul II himself connected the spirituality of the “Founder” with the lay spirit or theology which later came to characterize the Conciliar Church. According to Wojtyla in a homily delivered in 1979, Escriba, “from the beginning anticipated the theology of the laity that later came to characterize the Church of the Conciliar and post-Conciliar periods.” [2]

But before delving further into the liberal teachings of the “Founder” and his “Way”, practically expressed in the activities of Opus Dei, let us look more closely at the actual definition of liberalism, and what the pontiffs or other erudite Catholic scholars have had to say against either liberalism or its attendant theological or philosophical progeny. For this end, let us first cite Msgr Henri Delassus, author of La Conjuration Antichrétienne – Le Temple Maçonnique voulant s’élever sur les ruines de l’Église Catholique (“The anti-Christian conspiracy – The Masonic Temple wishing to rise over the ruins of the Catholic Church”). The significance of this work is shown by the de facto endorsement it received by none other than pope St Pius X. In the introduction there is a congratulatory letter from secretary of state Cardinal Merry del Val in which he writes, “The Holy Father Pius X has received with paternal interest the work titled La Conjuration AntichrétienneHis Holiness congratulates you affectionately for having carried to a good end the composition of this important and thought provoking work, after a long series of studies that equally honour your zeal and your ardent desire of serving the cause of God and the Holy Church…etc” Shortly later he writes something with direct bearing to the discussion that follows, “You show the abyss which is the result of the antagonism between Christian civilization and the so-called civilization which regresses towards paganism. You are so right in maintaining that social renewal will only be able to be accomplished by the proclamation of the rights of God and the Church!” These “rights of God and the Church” – that is, the rights of Christ the King – to rule over all societies and individuals are precisely the ones which liberalism abandons or rejects, which is why it is such a corroding cancer within the Body of Christ.

Msgr Henri Delassus essentially defines liberalism as the effort to reconcile the Church with the principles of the World; opposing principles which in Augustinian terms can be conceived as the antagonism between the City of God – the Catholic Church – with the Earthly City, an antagonism referenced at the beginning of Leo XIII’s landmark encyclical against Freemasonry, Humanum Genus, whose origin St Augustine in the City of God traces back to two different, opposed loves – love of God and love of self: “Catholic liberalism essentially consists in the effort to bring the Church and the World closer together, the Gospel and the Rights of man, in order to reconcile, as Pius IX said in the last of the propositions from the Syllabus, the Church and ‘civilization’, civilization as it has been conceived by Renaissance humanism and as it is desired by Freemasonry.” [3]

To Msgr Delassus, there is something of the Luciferian permeating the spirit of liberalism because it leads to man usurping the rightful place of God, and it is precisely the pride inherent in this error or heresy that will ultimately usher in the “man of sin”: “Liberalism is no ordinary heresy…. It is Satan’s own, personal heresy, because it consists in the creature usurping for its benefit the independence and sovereignty which belong only to God for all eternity, and in the order of time to Our Lord Jesus Christ. One can see from this how modern liberalism differs from everything that preceded it in terms of revolt and sin. It is sin itself [C'est le péché lui-même], the last term and the highest degree of sin. Liberalism calls forth ‘the man of sin’, it prepares the way to the Antichrist.” [4] Early in this same work, Msgr Delassus had described what this liberalism or reconciliation between the Heavenly and Earthly cities would entail in practice, according to the desires of the liberals and the followers of principles of “modernity”: “It is necessary for the Church to reconcile itself with modern civilization. And the proposed basis for this reconciliation will be…the abandonment of the truth of revelation, an abandonment which would transform Catholicism into a vast, liberal Protestantism in which all men could meet, regardless of their hateful notions of God, his revelation and his commandments. The adherents of modernity say that the Church can only envisage brighter days ahead through this liberalism, thus procuring for itself the honour of entering into the ways of modern civilization and of marching [together] with progress.” [5] These words by Msgr Delassus published in 1910 read like a prophecy of the aggiornamento that would be undertaken by John XXIII fifty-two years later starting in October 1962 when he opened the windows of St Peter’s to the odious stench of liberalism and modernism. It is an aggiornamento with its attendant liberal spirit and lay mentality that had been preceded by the Work starting from its mysterious beginnings in 1928.

The struggle against modernism at the outset was closely intertwined with the fight against liberalism. In some ways, liberalism was even more dangerous than other movements openly hostile to the Church such as communism because liberalism could act under stealth under the guise of Catholic appearances, even of conservative ones. Hence, Pius IX in a letter from 1871 deplored the state of French Catholicism due to the widespread influence of liberalism: “That which I fear is not the [communist/socialist] Commune of Paris—no—that which I fear is Liberal Catholicism….I have said so more than forty times, and I repeat it now, through the love that I bear you. The real scourge of France is Liberal Catholicism, which endeavours to unite two principles as repugnant to each other as fire and water.” [6] These two antagonistic principles were the same two opposing forces previously mentioned at the end of the Syllabus: the Catholic City and modernity or modern “civilization” under the direction of Freemasonry. St Pius X, in his turn, as patriarch called liberal Catholics, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, and as pope considered it his duty to “unmask” the disease of liberalism which he believed permeated the greater part of Catholic intellectual life. Our Lord stated unequivocally, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If both Opus Dei and the Conciliar Church birthed at Vatican II stem from the same liberal “tree” with its attendant spirit and doctrine, they should both infallibly produce the same liberal fruits: principally, ecumenism or an ecumenical “spirit” (the “spirit of Assisi”, John Paul II kissing the Koran, the “ecumenical” or non-confessional character of the Work’s activities, etc) and a masonic inspired notion of a false “liberty” with its accompanying consequences (religious liberty and religious indifferentism, a rapprochement between the Church and the World, intellectual “anarchy”, and so on). Such is indeed the case. Similarly, for Felix Sardà y Sardany in El Liberalismo es Pecado (“Liberalism is a sin”), Catholics are to discern the liberal from the orthodox by judging the tangible results of their actions: “Observe carefully what class of people are the projectors of the affair. Such is the first rule of prudence and common sense. It is based on that maxim of Our Lord: ‘A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit.’ Liberalism is naturally bound to produce writings, works and deeds impregnated with the spirit of Liberalism, or at least tainted with it.” (Chapter XXXIV)

The stakes in this conflict between the City of God and the liberal principles of the Earthly City are so high that Fr Denis Fahey in The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World contrasted the “pantheistic deification of man” [7] which is the ultimate project of liberalism and the secret societies against  a multitude of anti-liberal citations from Pius IX, in particular his Syllabus, which could be seen as the anti-liberal manifesto of the pope in opposition to the counter-Syllabus program of liberalism. There is no “middle” or “neutral” ground here when it comes to our response to liberalism, we are either on the side of the City of God or with the principles of the Earthly, masonic inspired City, so that depending on our choice, we are either – wittingly or unwittingly – on the side of God or the Devil:He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:20) Even the masons themselves recognize that in this conflict, one can only choose one side of the two opposing poles, expressed by a famous French Freemason quoted by Fr Fahey who stated, “A school cannot remain neutral between the Syllabus and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.” [8] Mgr Delassus, with the de facto endorsement of St Pius X, tells us that the essence of liberalism is the reconciliation of the Church with modern “civilization” as it has been conceived by the lodges, and as has been condemned by the Syllabus of Pius IX. Fr Dahey in turn tells us that modernity is setting up the “pantheistic deification of man”. And yet in affording a global assessment of Vatican II, that monumental gnostic pseudo-Council, Joseph Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI, the “great restorer of tradition”), has this to say: “The text [of the Vatican II documents, especially Gaudium et spes] serves as a counter-syllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” [9] Elsewhere, Ratzinger stated that, “If one is looking for a global diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et spes], one could say that it (along with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-Syllabus…” [10] It would have been difficult for Ratzinger to express his thoughts more clearly and explicitly on the significance of Vatican II vis-à-vis modern “civilization”, and we can therefore see that Vatican II together with the Conciliar Church did not indeed remain “neutral between the Syllabus and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

While the ostensible project of the liberal theologians at Vatican II was to “Christianize the Revolution”, its ultimate purpose was to “revolutionize the Church” [11], as Msgr Delassus remarks in his previous work, L’Américanisme et la Conjuration Antichrétienne with regards to those desiring to see the Church become reconciled with the Revolution. The essence of the Revolution are its liberal principles: “it is the idea, the spirit, the doctrine, in virtue of which man substitutes in all things his will and passions to the rights of God.” [12] A “substitution”, we would add, which takes place in the name of Freemasonic “liberty” – the “liberty” so assiduously and ceaselessly defended by Opus Dei and its “Founder”. According to the revolutionaries themselves, “The Revolution is the fight between man and GOD; it is the triumph of man over GOD.” [13] Msgr Delassus saw that the attempt to “Baptise the Revolution” is nothing more than the work of men of weak faith who no longer believe – or perhaps have never believed – that Christ’s faith can overcome the world. The solution against such perfidious intentions is to hold up the banner of Pius IX’s Syllabus higher than ever before, which implicitly and necessarily means opposing Vatican II and those movements such as Opus Dei which serve to buttress this “Catholic” revolution: “Baptising the Revolution! Christianizing the Revolution! This fanciful project could only come to the mind of those who consider their faith too weak to resist the revolutionary spirit [of 1789]. They forget St John’s words, ‘Haec est victoria quae vincit mundum, fides nostra’ [“and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith.” 1 John 5:4].” [14] Msgr Delassus quite prophetically foresaw that if the Church followed the sad experience of the Bourbon monarchy in France which tried to reconcile itself with the Revolution, “the world will never have seen such a catastrophe as that which it will draw upon itself”; a prophecy which was entirely fulfilled to the letter as the sad events of the following century would amply demonstrate. Therefore, he calls upon Catholics to take up the anti-revolutionary principles set out by Pius IX: “The Declaration of the rights of man must be opposed by true Christians with a solemn declaration of the rights of GOD; put another way, to take up the flag of the Syllabus of Pius IX, two times ratified by Leo XIII. Each one of the propositions from the Syllabus opposes a revolutionary principle, a consequence of the Declaration of the rights of man. Reiterating the importance of the Syllabus as the most effective antidote against the program of liberalism, in 1884 pope Leo XIII had stated to a French bishop that, “The Syllabus is the rule from which the faithful must take the principles of the direction of their thought and of their works in the present difficulties.” [15]

When John XXIII opened the windows of St Peter’s to the stench of modernism and liberalism, therefore, the counter-Church made its irrevocable choice to join sides with the forces of liberalism and Freemasonry in the construction of the Earthly City that will culminate in the ushering of the Antichrist on the world stage. Such is the temerity of the men leading the Conciliar Church to the abyss of apostasy, men who according to Pope Leo XIII crave, “to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God” (Custodi Di Quella Fede, December 8, 1892). All of this should clarify the real revolutionary nature of the liberal lay mentality of Opus Dei, and how this indeed made the Work one of the great precursors to Vatican II, as proudly affirmed by its associates and supporters (among which stand some of the most significant figures at Vatican II, as we will see). Again, to reiterate: it was not the purported “universal call to holiness” addressed by the Work to the world’s Catholics which made it revolutionary, but the radically liberal lay outlook permeating all of its activities which led it to embrace modern “civilization”, an outlook subsequently fully endorsed and promulgated by the magisterium of the Council. Just like with Opus Dei, Vatican II’s purported “universal call to holiness” was a convenient cover for its true revolutionary teachings, to wit, proclaiming to the “People of God” that embraces all creeds their ontological identification with the divine, while abandoning any pretensions of being the unique depository of the Truth outside of which there is no salvation, and accordingly, that it henceforth desired to cooperate willingly and work side by side with the Earthly City in the construction of the City of Man. Such was the proclamation at Vatican II expressed in  Gaudium et Spes, no. 3: “Therefore, this sacred synod, proclaiming the noble destiny of man and championing the Godlike seed which has been sown in him, offers to mankind the honest assistance of the Church in fostering that brotherhood of all men which corresponds to this destiny of theirs.”.

Escriba’a ardent love for the world and his radical secular mentality necessarily made him associate the priesthood with an anticlerical mindset. Stated very simply: he abhorred the idea that the Church should supervise the construction of Christian civilization, which is either Christian or is no real civilization at all. In fact, his anticlericalism goes back a long way in his life, and even as a youth before entering the seminary he later confessed of anti-clericalist tendencies. The practical consequences of Escriba’s truly lay spirituality are therefore a firm rejection to any kind of “clericalism”; he went so far in this deluded view that in 1972 to a group gathered who asked him about his lay mentality – as they surely must have been uneased about the doctrinal soundness of such a theological novelty – he replied: “I am anticlerical because I love the priesthood [!].” [16] Therefore, his understanding of the “priesthood” must certainly not have been a Catholic one. Escriba’s landmark homily delivered at the University of Navarra (an Opus Dei “pet project” funded out of its own coffers) on October 8, 1967 is perhaps the best single outline describing the liberal vision to life and the faith offered by the Work. Here, as the quintessential liberal and even, anti-clerical, Escriba describes with horror that it should even cross the mind of a Catholic that he should offer Catholic solutions to the world’s problems, something he goes as far as describing as a perversion [!] of the natural order of things! Here is the relevant text from the homily, where the liberal Christian that eschews the wisdom offered by the Church to solve the world’s ills is offered as the model to imitate for followers of the Work:

“But it never occurs to that [liberal] Christian to think or say that he should go down from the temple to the world to represent the Church, and that his solutions are the Catholic solutions to those problems. This cannot be so, my children! This would be clericalism, official Catholicism, or however you want to call it. In any case, it is to pervert the nature of things. You have to spread everywhere a truly lay [i.e. liberal] mentality…”

French Opus Dei member, Dominique Le Tourneau further confirms our interpretation of the radical liberal message of Escriba outlined in the homily just cited: “For the Founder, the Catholic solution to various problems in the world does not exist.” [17] The implications of this statement, which could be taken as the “official” interpretation of the “Founder’s” own words, is terrifying when its destructive potential is fully considered, both for the faith and even the world at large. In casting aside the Catholic solution in the name of ecumenism or religious indifferentism (implicit or explicit), the door is opened to the false “solutions” offered by the Earthly City, which if imposed on the Church and the world would lead, for the latter to its self-destruction, and for the former to descend into the supreme anarchy and barbarism of a world led by the powers of the counter-Church of Satan. In practical terms, this means that Opus Dei, despite its outward manifestations of adherence to dogma and “conservatism”, is part of the project to build a non-dogmatic “Church” reorganized without the solid Catholic principles to guide it or that rejects the social Kingship of Christ over men and nations. They thus reject the notion that the only secure foundations for civilization are those that depend on the rule of Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, through the ministry of the Church to bring Christ’s light to the nations. Escriba’s rejection of the notion that the Church and her doctrine should be the basis for re-building civilization (or that it is the only secure foundation over which Civilization can be constructed), contrasts sharply with Pope Leo XIII’s words in Rerum Novarum (1891) which express a perfectly contrary view: “Wherefore, if human society is to be healed, only a return to Christian life and institutions will heal it. In the case of decaying societies it is most correctly prescribed that, if they wish to be regenerated, they must be recalled to their origins…Wherefore, turning away from the original purpose [of Christian civilization] is corruption, while going back to this discovery is recovery.”

Salvador Berglar, an ardent promoter of the Work in his work Opus Dei goes as far as describing Escriba's liberalism as offering Opus Dei members some kind of immunity against the much feared ill of clericalism! Here is the text: “This [lay] mentality renders them completely immune against any kind of clericalism: they will not meddle in matters incompatible with their priestly ministry, nor in areas that fall within the free and personal responsibility of the laity.” “The Founder himself, throughout all his life was an example of this lay mentality which he preached with so much intensity and so insistently demanded.” [18]

So great was the “Father’s” aversion to what he perceived to be any kind of “clericalism” that he even felt some disappointment at seeing a select number of his former strictly lay followers become clerics (although, presumably, he would have been consoled at the fact that – as we will see below – the clerical state for him is nothing more than a mere “accident”…):“When on June 25, 1944 three of his spiritual children were the first to be ordained into the priesthood, he simultanously felt – as he said some time later – very happy and very sad: ‘I so love the lay condition of our Work, that I felt a true pain in having them become clerics; but, on the other hand, the need for the priesthood was so clear, that I had to be grateful to God Our Lord that those sons of mine arrived at the altar.’ ” [19]

Escriba’s rejection of what he termed “clericalism” is in fact a rejection of the social Kingship of Christ to rule and govern over all peoples. Writing in 1925, three years before Opus Dei was founded, Pius XI called on the world’s Catholics to embrace the sweet yoke of Christ the King as the solution to the world’s ills, and denounced “the plague of anti-clericalism”, an “evil spirit” long present but now advancing ever more boldly in a nominally Christian world rapidly sliding towards neo-paganism. It is in the middle of this spiritual climate that José María Escriba y Albás founded his Work in 1928:

If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism [“laicismo” in Spanish version], its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied.” (Pius XI, Quas Primas, no. 24)

Our insistence on Escriba’s obsessive and fanatical concern with fostering a lay mentality within Opus Dei is hardly some phantom we have conjured up out of our mind but is a plain fact proudly attested to by some of his most devoted followers who boast about the liberal and revolutionary character of the Work, such as Bernal who claims that this facet of his spirituality was not merely latent but quite apparent: “Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer was conspicuous for his firm support towards secularism.” [20] Liberty (as understood by the liberals) is the foundation for the secularism or lay mentality preached by the “Father”: “Liberty, my sons, liberty, which is the key for that lay mentality which we all have in Opus Dei.” [21]

For Escriba, there was no distinction within Opus Dei between a layperson and a priest; the lay and priestly states, and their respective vocations are thus conflated, bringing us dangerously close to the Protestant notion of the “priesthood of the faithful”, for in the Work both priests and the laity are equal, and thus Bernal states that it is: “…clear that in the mind of the Founder of Opus Dei, for us the priesthood is a circumstance, an accident, because – within the Work – priests and the laity have the same  vocation.  In Opus Dei we are all equal.” [22]

The French Opus Dei member Le Tourneau in L’Opus Dei describes the stark difference between the Catholic vocation to the religious state and the so called “lay” vocation of Opus Dei, with its secular characteristics that do not conform to any traditional form of spirituality within Catholicism, for either the lay or religious states. By his own admission, the “secular” vocation of Opus Dei has purely and strictly immanent (as opposed to transcendent) origins, so that the so called “vocation” cannot even be deemed to be inspired by God. Le Tourneau’s statement of the Work’s “vocation” emanating from “being in the world” is uncannily reminiscent of the gnostic philosopher Heidegger’s view of man as a purely immanent being-in-the-world. The “new lay spirituality” proposed by “Saint” Jose Maríá Escriba thus represents pure liberalism, naked and unadorned:

“The basic difference between the two [the religious vocation and the “vocation” to Opus Dei] can be expressed as movements in opposite directions. One answers [the call to vocation] from outside the world and moves toward it, bringing its presence toward it. This is the evolution of the religious state. The other is a ‘being in the world’; it starts from being of the world. Such is Opus Dei’s secular spirituality....This is what made Card. Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I, say that while St. Francis de Sales proposed a spirituality for lay people, Msgr. Escriva proposes a new lay spirituality.” [23]

In the spirit of ecumenism and secularism, the “apostolic works” of the purportedly Catholic Opus Dei are not confessional, but like the Sillon denounced by St Pius X, ultimately work for the furtherance of the Earthly City, rather than the Catholic one, the City of God. Bernal describes the manner in which Opus Dei promotes its apostolic works: “These projects – as is known – are a means to a supernatural end. But they are carried out and managed with a lay mentality (...) That is why they are not confessional...” [24] If the projects of the Work are, by their own admission officially non-confessional – that is, not born from Catholic principles and oriented towards exclusively Catholic ends and objectives –, we can rightly ask: what is their ultimate “supernatural end”? Is it perhaps their own contribution towards the construction of the Earthly City that will culminate with the establishment of an ecumenical One World Church? The liberal, pseudo-Christian pretensions of the Sillon and its attempt to construct a “Civilization” without Christ in the center could not have failed to bring it into alignment with the goals of the secret societies, and accordingly, the abbé Emmanuel Barbier in Les Infiltrations Maçonniques dans l’Église from 1910 wrote that, “There is a striking similarity between the hopes of all theosophical sects and those of the Sillon.” (p. 245) According to the gnostic sects, after the Gospel of Christ comes a new “gospel” that will unite all humanity in universal brotherhood, the Wojtylian “Civilization of Love” ushered in after the “new Pentecost” (John XXIII) experienced at Vatican II: “Afterwards will come our own Gospel: the Gospel of tomorrow, of joyful brotherhood, the spiritualist Gospel.” (Ibid., p 246) For whatever it is worth (although we are not inclined to believe it is a mere coincidence), sillon is the French term that Escriba himself picked up in one of his works using the Spanish equivalent, Surco (that is, “furrow”). This work is an example of the conflation of nature and grace inherent in the spirituality of Opus Dei, of which we will have more to say later. According to Mons. Álvaro del Portillo (Escriba’s right-hand man) in his preface to Surco, “What is revealed in these pages is the very life of the Christian, in which – together with Christ’s steps – the divine and the human are intertwined without any confusion…” The fact that Surco should be promoted by making it freely accessible at a prominent website of the Jewish-“Christian” Neo-Catechumenal Way (endorsed and praised by “Saint” John Paul II as “…an itinerary of Catholic [!] formation…” should be more than enough reason to suspect its orthodoxy. [25]

The “Father’s” own words can be adduced to show that the lay spirit permeates so profoundly everything in Opus Dei that its members do not even need to make an additional effort to conform to the world, since they are already its proud members and participants. The basis for the Work’s natural conformity with the world is the “aggiornamento” which was an inherent part of the spirituality of Opus Dei since its foundation – thus preceding that initiated by John XXIII at the start of Vatican II –, and which Escriba blasphemously ascribes to the inspiration or work of Christ: “God Our Lord – the Founder would say – has updated the Work once and for all [i.e. carried out the 'aggiornamento'], granting it those peculiar lay characteristics, so that IT WILL NEVER NEED TO ADAPT ITSELF TO THE WORLD, BECAUSE ALL OF ITS MEMBERS ARE OF THE WORLD.” [26] And to further highlight the fact that Opus Dei members do not need to adapt to the world, because they are already of the world, Escriba elsewhere states: “...and in no way is it fitting to speak of adapting to the world or to modern society: nobody adapts to what is considered one's own [milieu, i.e. the world]; one is found in one’s own [natural] environment.” [27]

As an ardent liberal, Escriba would also promote a false “liberty” based upon the revolutionary, gnostic principles of 1789 that would be embraced at Vatican II, according to Joseph Ratzinger’s own admission. According to the lay spirituality of the Work and its attendant religious indifferentism, every “path” is an equally acceptable means for constructing a true social order and civilization where peace and harmony can be achieved (or for allowing man to attain to his final supernatural end, namely, union with God): “I am a great lover of liberty and that every individual should follow his own path...” [28]

“Pluralism” is the natural daughter of a liberal notion of “liberty”, and hence was equally embraced by the “Father”. All sects and opinions must therefore coalescence following the ecumenical “spirit of Assisi” in the construction of “Saint” John Paul II’s utopian “civilization of love”, or stated plainly, the Augustianian “Earthly City” with its accompanying “Church of Man”: “Due to the exclusively divine mission of the Work, its spirit is a spirit of liberty, of a love for the personal liberty of all men. And since that love for liberty is sincere and not a mere theoretical statement, we love the necessary consequence of liberty: that is, pluralism. Within Opus Dei pluralism is cherished and loved, not simply tolerated and in no way hindered.” [29]

Ana Sastre, another of the “official” chroniclers of the Work, explains that it was the first association in the Church to fully embrace an ecumenical spirit embracing all men regardless of religious belief: “The Work was thus the first association in the Church that fraternally opened its arms to all men, regardless of creed or [religious] confession.” [30]

Vázquez in El Fundador del Opus Dei (“The Founder of Opus Dei”) describes that the novel ecumenical spirit spearheaded by the Work which incorporated as so called “co-operators” men of any belief or no belief at all was only much later widely accepted (that is, once ecumenism was officially endorsed by the Conciliar Church), and recounts a telling anecdote where Escriba with pride tells the “Holy Father” that the Freemasonic inspired ecumenical spirit of his Work preceded even that which John XXIII was attempting to foist upon the Catholic Church:

“In the pastoral practice of the Church, never before had that unlocking and wide opening of doors been seen which incorporated the souls of its benefactors [of various religions], among whom were Protestants, schismatics, Jews, Muslims, and pagans. Only with the passing of many years and once a new ecumenical current had begun, that bold step that [then] opened him up to much misunderstanding, now flowed naturally through contemporary history: Speaking one day with John XXIII, the Prelate [i.e. Escriba] told him: 'Holy Father, in our Work all men – Catholic or otherwise – have always found a welcoming place: I have not learned ecumenism from Your Holiness.' And the pope smiled, pleased.” [31]

According to Bernal, the “Founder” was such a radical defender of the religious freedom espoused by Dignitatis Humanae at Vatican II, that he once told a Methodist that, “I would give my life a hundred times to defend the liberty of your conscience.” [32] Therefore, Escriba would have given his life a hundred times – not for Christ, for the salvation of souls and their sanctification, or for the Methodist’s conversion to the true faith – but to protect the erroneous and heretical views of a Protestant. Such could be called, indeed, the “apotheosis” of a liberal, ecumenical mind-set, ready to give his very own life in the name of a heretical doctrine inspired by the lodges!

The liberty which Escriba preached so ardently is the “liberty of perdition” which Pius IX denounced, with this phrase quoting St Augustine, and elsewhere in his encyclical Quanta Cura referencing the encyclical Mirari Vos by Gregogy XVI which denounced the liberal errors of his age that were creeping into the minds of ever vaster segments of the Church and society:

“From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an ‘insanity,’ [Mirari Vos], that ‘liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.’ But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching ‘liberty of perdition.’ [St. Augustine, epistle 105 (166)]”

With his liberal roots and its attendant egalitarian pluralism which places all beliefs and opinions on essentially the same level, so that any religion or philosophy and its political or ideological progeny are as good as any other, the “Father” seemed to preach something akin to intellectual anarchy leaving his followers entirely free to embrace whatever ideas they deemed most to their liking: “Opus Dei is neither on the right nor on the left, or in the center. I, as a priest, try to be with Christ, who on the Cross opened both arms and not only one of them: I take with liberty, from each group that which convinces me, and which makes me have a heart and arms that can embrace all of humanity; and each associate is entirely free to choose the option he wishes…” [33] It is interesting to note that Escriba claims that Opus Dei is neither on the right nor on the left, and due to its ideological indifferentism, he was correct in this point. However, he further claims that neither is Opus Dei in the stationary center left unmoved by the progressivist movement of history, pointing the path that must be followed by the Christian (for both “right” and “left” are post-Revolutionary constructs) according to Proverbs 4:27: “Decline not to the right hand, nor to the left: turn away thy foot from evil. For the Lord knoweth the ways that are on the right hand: but those are perverse which are on the left hand.” While the Christian only has one Way, Christ, whose narrow and straight path cannot be reduced to the categories of “right” and “left” (which in any case are progressively defined according to the moral and philosophical standards at any given time), in practical terms because of the Work’s ideological anarchy (stemming from its liberalism), it sees no problem embracing both the left and right as a means to suit whatever ends it desires to accomplish. This will go so far as cooperating with communists, as we will see in a later part of this study. In a conference in Buenos Aires, Escriba stated that while he personally did not meddle in politics, he praised those whose did so regardless of their political or ideological persuasions, thus effectively setting truth and error on the same plane: “…some turn to the right, others to the left, others elsewhere, and no one is mistaken, they are all of good ill.” [34] Here, Escriba, with a mind profusely and hopelessly permeated by the spirit of liberalism, could not help but utter what amounts to be in practical terms the exact opposite of Scripture’s admonition in Proverbs 4:27. His only warning to those immersing themselves in politics was that they should adopt a liberal attitude that leaves open room for all ideological persuasions to freely defend their program: “However: I can and must advise you not to act with personal attacks; to defend your program, without personally offending anyone…” [35] Therefore, in the name of a false “liberty”, the “Father” was happy to see his followers adopt and defend any political position, including that of socialism of course, despite the fact that Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno (section 120) had condemned Catholic support for socialism in quite blunt terms: “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” Regardless of Pius XI’s warning however, the “Father” could not even object to his followers adopting communist principles, (presumably) sans the atheistic aspect – perhaps the sort of “revamped” neo-Bolshevism in vogue in certain circles today –, even though Pope Leo XIII in Quod Apostolici muneris defined communism as “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin.”

In many ways the radical liberal and ecumenical mind-set of the Work seems to be like a mirror image of the similar liberal spirit that thoroughly permeated the ideas and teachings of the French Sillon movement firmly denounced by St Pius X in his apostolic letter Notre Charge Apostolique (“Our Apostolic Mandate”), gathering all men of good will in the construction of the Earthly City in an ecumenical spirit of religious indifferentism uncannily similar to that espoused by the Conciliar Church; a utopian anti-Christian vision running contrary to the Gospel, that in the history of the post-Conciliar Church perhaps found its most vigorous and enthusiastic exponent in John Paul II. The striking similarities between some of the key tenets of the Sillon and Opus Dei cannot fail to make one question whether Opus Dei may in fact have been some kind of effort to resurrect the defunct Sillon but this time under a more “conservative” guise strictly in line (in appearance) with Catholic orthodoxy. The three key aspects with which the Sillon and Opus Dei are in perfect conformity are first, their open acceptance of liberal principles. Secondly, their absolute insistence that their works and activities should have a non-confessional character, that is, as the “Founder” would put it, the strictly “lay” outlook of their apostolate amalgamating people of any religious belief or none, as well as those of any political persuasion. Thirdly, their preaching of “Christian” democracy as the only sound basis for society, and in the liberal context in which this must be framed, is exactly equivalent to the “pluralism” so ardently promoted by the “Father” that essentially places truth and error on the same level, and which in practice means embracing both the right and left, up to an including communists, as we will see in a later part of our study. There is another crucial link assimilating the Sillon and Opus Dei: their flagrant duplicity. As quoted by the abbé Emmanuel Barbier in his study of the Sillon, Les Idées du Sillon (1905), the arch-liberal Marc Sangnier could go as far as simultaneously stating that he “had no intention of disapproving of the Syllabus, which I have always welcomed…with the greatest respect [!]” without however “disregarding the rights of free thought” (p. 131), in plain English meaning, “the rights” of liberal principles. In reality, as Barbier shows by quoting from Nouvelles Semailles, Sangnier saw the “tenants of the past” – that is, those upholding the principles of the Syllabus of Pius IX – “as obstacles to the reconciliation between the present age and the Church.” (Ibid., p. 129) Even after the liberal heresy of Americanism had been condemned by Leo XIII, the Sillon in its journal defiantly boasted that this would do nothing to turn the Sillon away from its liberal principles, which were the very foundation of the movement and without which its existence and impetus would be meaningless: “Shall our conviction be diminished, after these documents [have been issued], that our duty is to search for the reconciliation between Catholic dogma and all the ideas of the current age, to work for a progressive adaptation of Catholicism towards all those forces carrying our modern world?” (Ibid., p. 129)

The abbé Emmanuel Barbier points out that both Leo XIII and St Pius X (e.g. in his Motu Propio) considered it a point of capital importance that Catholic works and social action should be carried out within a strictly Catholic context, that is, they insisted that they should retain a confessional character the exact opposite, in fact, of what was so strenuously and insistently preached by the “Father”. (Ibid., p. 164) The pontiffs’ condemnations in this regard amounted to a “negation of the middle ground” that Opus Dei ostensibly takes up as its operating principle. The importance of imbuing works with a Catholic character is in perfect harmony with traditional Catholic social teaching, as Barbier remarks: “The confessional character demanded by the Sovereign Pontiffs for works founded by Catholics is in perfect harmony with their doctrine on the solution to social problems and the remedy which, according to them, must be sought within the sphere of religion, in its wise institutions, in resignation and charity.” (Ibid. p 166) Against such a plain statement clearly expounding perennial Catholic teaching, we are again reminded that this is precisely the teaching frontally rejected and opposed – almost in disgust – by Escriba who stated in his infamous homily from October 8, 1967 that his amounted to “clericalism, official Catholicism, or however you want to call it.”

In an official declaration of the Sillon – which could equally have been stated by Opus Dei – it was stated that: “The Sillon has the right to also proclaim that it does not carry out confessional social works….it does not admit that any kind of confessionalism should be introduced in the unions, it wants them to remain outside of all religious doctrine…” (Ibid., p. 164). As could hardly be otherwise, the arch-liberal Sillon did not escape the influence of gnostic groups and doctrine (we believe the same holds true for Opus Dei). The abbé Barbier, in Infiltrations Maçonniques dans l’Église, mentions the dubious participation of Rosicrucians within meetings organized by the Sillon (Ibid., p. 248). Barbier further remarks that, “the Catholicism of M. Marc Sangnier adapts to that of M. Joseph Serre, which is in accordance with that of M. Vulliaud, which is explicitly gnostic and theosophist.” (Ibid., p 249) Barbier further mentions the striking similarity between Sangnier’s work La Vie Profond with another work written by an occultist: “Let us especially compare Secret de la Rose-Croix which appeared in the same journal under the signature of the occultist Boué de Villers. It is the same state of mind, the same morbid idealism, the same macabre eroticism... The closeness is striking with regards to the symbolic form and to the theories of chastity and love.” (Ibid., p. 249) (We would also not be surprised to find an uncanny similarity between these gnostic works and John Paul II’s Kabbalah inspired, “Theology of the Body”…) Commenting on Sangnier’s Eveils et Visions, Barbier ends by commenting: “One can say that the author could hardly have written otherwise if he had known the mysteries of the Rose-Croix [i.e. the Rosicrucians] and of martinism, thus preparing his ardent disciples by reading it to be fascinated [by these mysteries].” (Ibid., p. 249)

At the death of the Sillon’s founder, Angelo Roncalli wrote a letter of condolences to his widow praising Mr Sangnier and reminiscing about his fascination for the founder in his youth when he was enthralled by, “the powerful charisma of his words and his spirit. Perhaps he too was enthralled by Sangnier’s premature and failed attempt – thanks to St Pius X – to spearhead the aggiornamento of French Catholicism with the principles of the Revolution and liberal modernity. Patiently carrying this liberalism deep within his heart for over half a century while skilfully evading charges of heterodoxy or modernism, Roncalli (who viewed the Work with kind eyes) was finally able to bring in the airs of modernity into the Church as he opened the windows of St Peter’s in October 1962.

In Notre Charge Apostolique, St Pius X warned that the Sillon was attempting to, “build its City on a theory contrary to Catholic truth” since it “falsifies the basis and essential notions which regulate social relations in any human society.” As described by St Pius X, the appeal by the Sillon “to the workers of all religions and all sects” bears a striking resemblance to the ecumenical spirit of the Work. In summary, St Pius X warned that the Sillon was part of nothing less than the universal movement towards global apostasy. If the Sillon ultimately proved to be an unsuccessful movement of relatively short duration, the same cannot be said of Opus Dei; what was needed to bring about a successful “Catholic” Revolution based on the same core liberal ideas was to “repackage” them under a thick layer of “conservatism”. The firm, prophetic warning of Pius X against “the theories of the Sillon”, a reiteration of “the doctrines of the Revolution and Liberalism which have been so often condemnedis worth quoting at some length because they can equally be applied to condemn the liberal character of the Work (and also of Vatican II), which attempts to found a New City whose foundations will not be Christ’s Gospel but the neo-pagan, gnostic-Kabbalistic philosophy buttressing the “pantheistic deification of Man”. Finally, in a later installment of our study, we will see that, just like the Sillon, Opus Dei did indeed prove to carry “Socialism in its train”:

“No, Venerable Brethren, We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker – the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO.


The Sillon has a praise-worthy concern for human dignity, but it understands human dignity in the manner of some philosophers, of whom the Church does not at all feel proud. The first condition of that dignity [according to these philosophers] is liberty


For the construction of the Future [Earthly] City they appealed to the workers of all religions and all sects. These were asked but one thing: to share the same social ideal, to respect all creeds, and to bring with them a certain supply of moral force.


But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, “the reign of love and justice with workers coming from everywhere, of all religions and of no religion, with or without beliefs, so long as they forego what might divide them – their religious and philosophical convictions, and so long as they share what unites them – a “generous idealism and moral forces drawn from whence they can”…. What is to come of this collaboration? A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train….[The Sillon ]is now no more than a miserable affluent of the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer.” (St Pius X: Notre Charge Apostolique).


1.     Msgr. Henri Delassus, La Mission Posthume de sainte Jeanne d'Arc, p. 52. Ed. Ste Jeanne d´Arc, "Les Guillotes", Villegenon. 18260 Vailly-sur-Suldre.

2.     John Paul II, homily at a Mass celebrated on August 19, 1979, L’Osservatore Romano (Spanish edition), 26 Aug 79, p. 11 (423). The original text in Italian was published in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II/2, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Rome 1979, p. 142.

3.     Msgr Henri Delassus, La Conjuration antichrétienne (Société Saint-Augustin, Lille, 1910, Part I), pp 243-44.

4.     Ibid., note no.1 (pp 243-44).

5.     Ibid., p 10.

6.     Catholic Progressives in England After Vatican II, Jay P. Corrin, University of Notre Dame Press, 2013, p 65.

7.     The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern Word, Fr Denis Fahey, Browne and Nolan Limited, 1939, Chapter VII: “Pius IX and the Pantheistic Deification of Man”.

8.     The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern Word, Fr Denis Fahey, Browne and Nolan Limited, 1939, Chapter VIII, p. 143.

9.     Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, tr. Sister Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1987), 382.

10.  Les Principes de la Theologie Catholique - Esquisse et Materiaux, Paris: Tequi, 1982, p 426.

11.  L’Américanisme et la Conjuration Antichrétienne, Msgr Henri Delassus, Société de Saint-Augustine, 1898, p 382.

12.  L’Américanisme et la Conjuration Antichrétienne, Msgr Henri Delassus, Société de Saint-Augustine, 1898, pp 196-7.

13.  L’Américanisme et la Conjuration Antichrétienne, Msgr Henri Delassus, Société de Saint-Augustine, 1898, p 197.

14.  L’Américanisme et la Conjuration Antichrétienne, Msgr Henri Delassus, Société de Saint-Augustine, 1898, p 383.

15.  Les Idées du Sillon, Abbé Emmanuel Barbier, 1905, p. 128.

16.  SALVADOR BERNAL, Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei; Rialp, Madrid 1980, 6ª ed., p 87.

17.  Dominique Le Tourneau, L’Opus Dei, p.41.

18.  Peter Berglar, Opus Dei, p 216.

19.  Ibid., p 218.

20.  Bernal, op. cit., p 86.

21.  “Libertad, hijos míos, libertad, que es la clave de esa mentalidad laical que todos tenemos en el Opus Dei.” (Letter from Jose María Escriba y Albás, 29-IX-1957, cited by A. Cataneo,. Tracce per una spiritualità laicale offerte dall'omelia Amare il mondo appassionatamente, in the journal Annales Theologici 16 (2002)128.)

22.  Bernal, op. cit. p. 152.

23.  D. Le Tourneau, op. cit., p.26.

24.  Bernal, op. cit., p 309.

25.  AAS-82.90,1513-1515, http://www.caminoneocatecumenal.org/biblioteca/Escriva/surco.pdf

26.  El Fundador del Opus Dei, A. Vázquez de Prada, Rialp, p. 352.

27.  Bernal, op. cit., p. 117.

28.  Conversaciones con Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer, Rialp, p. 70.

29.  Conversaciones con Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer, Rialp, p. 127.

30.  Tiempo de Caminar, Ana Sastre, Rialp, p. 610.

31.  Vázquez, op. cit., p. 258.

32.  Bernal, op. cit., p. 297.

33.  Escrivá, Conversaciones, “El Apostolado del Opus Dei en los cinco continentes”, no. 44.

34.  SALVADOR BERNAL, Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei; Rialp, Madrid 1980, 6ª ed., pp. 305-306. “…unos van por la derecha, otros por la izquierda, otros por allá, y ninguno desacierta, todos tienen buena voluntad.”

35.  Ibid., “Eso sí: les puedo y les debo aconsejar que no actúen con ataques personales; que defiendan su programa, sin ofender a nadie en la persona…”