Saturday, September 20, 2008

National Post Wades in to defend Opus Dei

Michael Coren has published a defence of Opus Dei in The National Post on account of the uproar produced in the media when Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, announced that the candidate for the Conservative party in Saint-Hubert-Saint-Bruno, Nicole Charbonneau Barron, was an Opus Dei member. Then Raymond Gravel, a Catholic priest and outgoing Bloc MP, opined that, "Social conservatives such as members of Opus Dei may be running for office in order to change policies concerning abortion and same-sex marriage." And that's a bad thing? To defend life? In any case, it would not be Opus Dei doing this, but an individual, who takes orders only from her party, and nobody else. This is why Coren clarifies in his Sept 18th column, "No albino killers, just dishonourable separatists" what Opus Dei really is, and he does it masterfully.

Yet that doesn't mean we can't add a clarification. Coren mentions that Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Pope, as though we we're his personal little thing to play with.  The "personal" refers to jurisdiction, not to the person of Pope.  Yes we are a personal prelature, but the “personal” meant to refer to a jurisdiction as opposed to “territorial” jurisdiction like a diocese.  If we belong to anyone, we belong to the Vatican Congregation for the Bishops, just like a diocese does. Our bishop Prelate, Msgr. Echevarria, is under the authority of the Pope, just like all bishops.  For some, this might seem like splitting hairs, but it is a distinction that underlines how much Opus Dei really is like everyone else, and that in fact we're not some kind of personal army of the Pope, even if we love the pope and would fight any war for him.

Charles Lewis, another collumnist for the Post, has a great interview with Msgr. Frederick Dolan, the Vicar of Opus Dei in Canada, and beautifully debunks the idea that we're somehow super secretive, especially if we're in the phone book, and Msgr. Dolan gave him and other journalists his business card with all the info he needed.

London Times Likes a Good Seminar on How to Talk

It seems that Opus Dei's efforts to explain itself during the Da Vinci Code is still paying off. Another seminar for journalists was held at Santa Croce this September 8-14, 2008 with the title The Church Up Close.

"We were pretty bad at communications, we were forced to learn and now we are giving courses on it," said Jack Valero, of Opus Dei, the organisation that ran the seminar at its Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

A few years ago, before the Da Vinci Code phenomenon, a flyer about a seminar for journalists organised by Opus Dei would have been greeted with howls of derision and binned. One of the many ironies of the post-Dan Brown Catholic Church is that Opus Dei has moved into the mainstream, perhaps because the novel was too far-fetched even for the most credulous of anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists. And at least the organisation is trying to help.

The London Times sent their own religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill, and she seems to have had a blast.

You can read the rest of the Times article and all the fun that Ms. Gledhill seems to have had in the Eternal City. The title of her piece is "The Pope finally gets the message: it's good to talk". No kidding. It is a great article and worth the read.