BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:35 am

Part 2 of 2

Correspondence Retained

I wrote my directress in Venezuela, believing she was entitled to an honest account of what was happening in Rome. However, I was afraid that if she wrote to General Delivery, some Opus Dei member would discover a way to collect my mail. Mrs. de Sosa wrote me a couple of letters to General Delivery that I was able to receive through a Venezuelan numerary who picked them up for me on a trip to the main post office in Rome. Through this same numerary, I also managed to arrange to open a post office box in one of the district post offices in Rome and received a few brief notes there from some of the advisors in the Venezuelan regional advisory. Once they included a meditation letter written by a Venezuelan Opus Dei priest which gave me some hope. He encouraged me by saying that we have to live God's will and that everything would pass, because superiors are human and can err, while God is above everything and everyone. It filled me with encouragement. Needless to say, I burned this letter after I read it.

Apparently, they sent a second meditation by this priest that must have been lost. I had torn up a third meditation to shreds, intending to burn it in the wash basin at night. While I was getting undressed, two of the advisors entered my room, searched high and low, and took away the shreds of the note that I had hid at the back of the closet days before. I had made the dreadful mistake of showing one of these letters to two students who were at the Roman College of Santa Maria. Judging by the consequence, today, I am almost certain that they had reported the matter to their superiors.

Here I would recall a remark I made in the introduction that I would always use real names but to avoid reprisals by Opus Dei superiors I would refrain in exceptional cases from identifying certain persons, since they still belong to the prelature. A condensed version reached me then of the events in Caracas which paralleled my reclusion in Rome. Subsequently, I was to learn of them in detail from trustworthy sources.

The numeraries had been informed of my retention in Rome one by one in the following manner: "Maria del Carmen will not come back again. There is to be no comment by anyone." Obviously, that put my stay in Rome in a cloud of suspense. Here, Ana Maria Gibert merits a brief parenthesis. She was my directress in Caracas, as I have said. Doubtless her sending me two or three letters to Rome motivated her removal from Casavieja to a bedroom on the top floor of Etame School of Art and Home Economics, where she was held completely incommunicado for about two weeks. She could not receive telephone calls, mail, visits, or any contact with the other numeraries who lived in the house. Ana Maria must have been about 46 years old then. The directress of the Etame School of Art and Home Economics, Lucia Cabral, an intelligent woman who had worked in one of the most progressive schools in Venezuela under doctor Luisa Elena Vegas, acceded to Opus Dei's tactics and acted as Ana Maria Gibert's jailer. She had to bring her food at mealtimes.

This treatment of Ana Maria Gibert, a person of prestige in the academic world, who had sacrificed her professional and personal future in the interest of the Work, was one of the most unjust things I have known in Opus Dei. Beloved of numeraries and outsiders for her affability, spiritual life, and maternal character, she was one of the numeraries who began our work in Venezuela. She established a fine atmosphere at the Etame school and maintained its good reputation, along with Begona Elejalde. After her forced reclusion, they sent Ana Maria to Opus Dei's Dairen students residence in Caracas and from there to Spain. Years later I met her on a Salamanca street, as I will describe later.

Eva Josefina Uzcategui took charge of removing my photographs from the houses of the Work. Not surprisingly, given her temperament, she performed the task without the slightest embarrassment in front of other numeraries.

I was beginning to feel utterly exhausted. I thought I was being treated unjustly, but in order to repent I needed to know the specifics of my sins. I asked for examples again and again, and they never gave any. Everything was left hanging in the air; the accusations were serious but always couched in vague terms. St. Francis de Sales's phrase that you can catch more flies with a spoon of honey than a bottle of vinegar came to mind frequently.

For example, they spoke of "murmuring" -- but the criticism they referred to was open and meant to be constructive. After all, I had not gone about the streets of Caracas proclaiming my opinion about the rescripts sent by Monsignor Escriva, but discussed them frankly with Opus Dei superiors in Venezuela. I had even made my differences of opinion known in a sealed letter I had sent to Monsignor Escriva. Perhaps the most obviously sectarian characteristic of Opus Dei is precisely the absence of self-criticism. Even more than that, the divinization of its leader and the sanctification of its Founder in life made it practically impossible to disagree with anything he might say or write.

My physical strength was diminishing, and the idea of leaving Opus Dei came to me frequently. I wept a lot at night and had dreadful headaches during the day. I thought I must ask God to take my life, because in Opus Dei it is recommended that "you must ask God for death before failure to persevere." The truth is that I asked God a thousand times to take my life. The fancy of taking my own life even passed through my head, but obviously my mental health was still intact. I requested permission to do extraordinary bodily mortification, which was granted. I believe I treated my body with brutality.

Suicides

Years later I learned of suicide attempts by Opus Dei female numeraries who did not die but who were maimed for life. One of them was Rosario Morin (Piquiqui) in England. Piquiqui threw herself out of a window of an Opus Dei women's house in London. She did not kill herself but was seriously injured, breaking her pelvis. Once out of danger, she was taken to Madrid. She died insane, although of natural causes according to Opus Dei. One of the numeraries who cared for her (and whose name I will make available upon written request) informed me in detail about Piquiqui's insanity. I do not believe the claim that she was already insane. What I do believe is that Opus Dei drove her insane, which is different. As a child, I went to school with Piquiqui in Madrid. Her brother was in my class. We met again years later at Zurbarin and requested admission to Opus Dei at about the same time. She was able to reside in houses of the Work before me. We were together in the Molinoviejo course, when she was preparing her trip to Mexico. People in Mexico were very fond of her and she was happy there. During my last stay in Rome we met again. Piquiqui had arrived from Mexico on her way to England. I remember a conversation we had in Villa Sacchetti in 1966, while the general congress of the Women's Branch was being held. We discussed possible appointments to the central advisory. As a consequence of that conversation, I was the object of a very energetic fraternal correction by Mercedes Morado, because Piquiqui had told her that we had talked about possible changes in the central advisory. I never understood why this was so wrong and thought that when I met Piquiqui, I would call her stupid at least. Certainly, Piquiqui was not insane in 1966. You must understand that one of the requirements of those whom Opus Dei chooses as numeraries is the absence of mental illness in their families.

A case in the United States involved an American numerary who had been at the Roman College of Santa Maria. On her return to the United States, the superiors led her to believe that she was attached to her male cousin who belonged to Opus Dei. She had never considered that affection reprehensible, but it turned into a nightmare for her. She lived in Washington, D.C. Going from one Opus Dei house to another, she began to wander aimlessly for hours. She arrived at a military installation where the soldiers found her with sores on her feet, dirty, disoriented, insane. They took her to hospital from which they notified her Opus Dei house, probably because of some piece of identification she was carrying.

The numeraries from her house came and without further ado had her committed to a mental institution. One day she asked for a little mirror with which she tried to commit suicide by cutting her veins. They took her from the insane asylum to the Opus Dei house, where a Peruvian numerary, Maricucha Valdearellano, who was in the United States regional advisory, did not pay the slightest attention to her. A numerary from another South American country who lived in the house took care of her and calmed her, especially at night. Apparently, the American numerary has recovered and still resides in an Opus Dei house, but not in Washington, D.C.

Another case with which I am familiar is that of Aurora Sanchez Bella, whom the Opus Dei superiors sent to England because one of her brothers held an important post there. Aurorita was a good person but had no gift for languages; while I was in the central advisory in Rome, I remember opposing her assignment to England. However, they sent her primarily because of her brother's position there. When I returned to Rome in 1965, she seemed quite unbalanced. Her room was next to mine, and at night I could hear her pacing up and down the room.

I pointed this out to Mary Tere Echeverria, who told me that "she already knew her situation." Opus Dei creates situations that can break people psychologically. When my brother Javier, who is a medical doctor, learned about my stay in Rome, he told me: "You can certainly say that you have no insanity genes, because others have lost their mind for less."

The family life that I shared in Rome with the central advisory consisted in participating with them in all common acts, meals and get-togethers. The common acts belonging to the life of piety were limited to the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the Preces, and the rosary. Other than that, because of my work in the administration and the cleaning schedule, I fulfilled the remaining norms in one of the two Villa Sacchetti oratories.

The women's central advisory had its own dining room by now. It was not at all attractive. The only impressive thing was a round table where thirty could easily be seated. When some advisor from another country arrived, they ate there. One of the major superiors who came most often was the delegate in Italy, Maribel Laporte, a Spaniard. Maribel was the daughter of a colleague of my father's, and I knew her fairly well. Accordingly, when I arrived, she was one of those who was pleasant to me, doubtless because our parents would talk about their daughters in Rome. Her older sister, who became a nun and whom I knew well, always inspired respect and affection because of her sheer goodness, whereas Maribel, by contrast, always seemed somewhat of an opportunist.

Tiburtino

November 21, 1965, Monsignor Escriva ordered everyone in the house to go to the Mass that His Holiness Paul VI was to celebrate in the Tiburtino to mark the assignment of the Parish of St. John the Baptist al Collatino to the Opus Dei. The pastor was Mario Lantini, the first Italian numerary and first Italian numerary priest, currently Opus Dei regional vicar in Italy. The Father also announced the blessing ceremony of the newly constructed Elis Center buildings, devoted to vocational-technical education, some of which were apparently completed. Monsignor Escriva informed us that Opus Dei numeraries would line the Pope's path with lighted torches. He explained to us that unless we had specifically been designated to do so, we could not go to communion at the Pope's Mass. Among the numeraries so designated was Fernanda, the first Dominican numerary, who was rumored to be next directress in Venezuela. We were also informed that the majority of the women numeraries of the Italian region, at that time Milan, Naples, and Rome as well as representatives of the international press would be in Tiburtino.

After the Father had finished his announcements, some of us remained in the Gallery of the Madonna. Mercedes Morado reported that the Father had just said: "Daughters, take care to tell your little sisters [i.e., the servants]. I know that they love me very much, but for once, let them applaud the Pope more than me. They will have other opportunities to see me and applaud me." They repeated this to us many times.

They also told us that the Pope would visit an administration of the Women's Branch for the first time in the history of Opus Dei. Consequently, it was totally forbidden under any circumstances that anyone should go to that administration. Maribel Laporte, the delegate of the Italian region would be with the numeraries from the local council of that administration.

Also at this time the image of the Virgin, which is now placed in a chapel at the University of Navarra, was transported to Rome to receive the Pope's blessing.

I was instructed to go to the Tiburtino parish with two servants, Concha and Asuncion, both long-time Opus Dei members. When we arrived at the parish church, the huge marble statue of the Virgin occupied the middle of the nave. The Father arrived giving orders to the men about the placement of the Virgin or some such thing. The servants had learned that "for once" they had to applaud the Pope more than the Father. The majority of the women who were going to communion wore white veils and were in the central nave. The two servants and I had a good view from a lateral nave.

The Mass moved me deeply. Paul VI lauded the Opus Dei and mentioned in the homily that he had worked in the neighborhood as a priest. When he said that one of the things that he praised most highly in Opus Dei was the "spirit of freedom," I rebelled and wanted to shout out loud: "Lies, Holy Father, lies!" I realized that the world press was there and that my shout in Italian would embarrass Opus Dei but felt that in the final analysis it would embarrass the church. Although I tried not to cry, I wept uncontrollably, my Catholic loyalty being stronger than the oppression of my soul. I could not help but reflect bitterly, however, on the distorted information that the Work's superiors must have given the Holy Father.

My thoughts were interrupted by one of the servants telling me that she had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. There were no restrooms around. The poor soul was in such discomfort that I took a chance and accompanied her to the administration. I rang the door bell and Maribel Laporte opened the door. Seeing me, she said in the most disagreeable tone of voice imaginable: "As always, disobeying with your bad spirit." Maribel's words and tone of voice squelched the poor servant's problem. She kept apologizing because I had been the object of abuse on her account. I calmed her down and told her not to worry.

The following morning they broadcast the ceremonies at the Tiburtino on television, and the order was given in the ironing room for everyone in the administration to go up to the fourth floor where the central advisory offices were situated to see the Father (not the Pope).

The only television set in the women's area was in a large room at the end of the corridor on the central advisory office floor. I asked the directress of the administration if she was sure that I was allowed to go up and she said I was. So I went up. It was the first time I entered the office floor since 1956. I went down the hall with the Peruvian I mentioned earlier, and passing by the open door of Mercedes Morado's office, I saw her reading a letter. I felt she saw me, however. The television room was dark. I saw Marlies. Thirty seconds later someone said: "Marlies, Mercedes is calling you." The next moment everyone heard Marlies summon me into the hall. Naturally, they also saw that I did not come back. Marlies said: "You had better go down to the ironing room and continue with the oratory work." I went down, swallowing my rage.

As was to be expected, the next day after lunch, Marlies called me to the central advisory visiting parlor in La Montagnola and told me she was surprised that I had gone up to the office floor when it was clearly established that no one could go up to that floor without permission. I said simply that the directress of the administration told me to go up with the others. Then Marlies responded: "Yes, but the directress of the administration does not know that you are not like the others nor does she know about your 'lamentable situation.'"

I kept quiet.

Mercedes Morado called me two days later and asked about the Tiburtino ceremony in general. I concentrated on the Mass and the Pope, although I knew that she wanted to get to the scene in the administration, as she eventually did. I did not go into any detail but simply said we had disregarded an express order. I made no commentary on Maribel's behavior. When Mercedes insisted, I only said: "We have to realize Maribel is still very young." I knew that my understanding bothered her more than any reproach would have.

Vatican II

This occurred at the end of November 1965 and the Second Vatican Council was to be concluded on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. I asked for permission to go to the Vatican, saying that this was a very important event for me as a Christian, and that it was the only time in my life that an occurrence of such significance would take place in the church. Marlies and Mercedes Morado said no because there was a great deal of work in the house and "more important things to do than go to the conclusion of a Council." They added that Don Alvaro and "some of our brothers would be there and that was enough."

The television carried the ceremonies live that morning and ran the tapes that night. I was the only numerary in the house who was not permitted to watch TV. Of some three hundred women numeraries in the house, nobody went to the Vatican that day. I never understood this. Monsignor Escriva's professed love of the church and the Pope rings hollow.

My parents tried to phone just before Christmas. Apparently, the connection was broken. What probably happened was that in the rush to look for Lourdes Toranzo who was my "guardian" in matters relating to the outside, they hung up. My parents then sent me a telegram informing me that they would call on Christmas Day. I was able to speak to them but realized that somebody was listening in, possibly Lourdes Toranzo. I insisted that I wanted to see them and that they should come to Rome, but to my great surprise my mother got on the phone and said that she was still very much afraid of flying and that they would come to see me in the spring, by train. In spite of my insistence, they could not understand. They were happy to have me nearer.

I had become passive, and I barely spoke. I was meek. I helped the servants with all my strength. I just listened. The only time when I spoke up was when the superiors in the women's central advisory would say in front of Latin American numeraries that in their countries people were "soft," "tacky," uncultured. I realized that the whole house was silently on my side.

The superiors did not give me a single card or letter at Christmas. Marlies simply said there was no mail for me. I was convinced she lied but had no proof. One day I took a desperate chance. Since I knew where the duplicates of keys were kept, including the key to the mailbox, I went up to the secretary's room and grabbed the duplicate of that key. Given the arrangement of the doors in the delivery area, it was an adventure full of suspense to open the mailbox without being heard. My heart was thumping, but I did it. I saw that there were at least eight letters for me. I found out who had sent them. I opened one of them, from Lilia Negron, who could not understand my silence for months. She and her husband asked why I didn't answer their letters. I destroyed that letter. I left the other seven in the mail box, and, of course, with more suspense I returned the duplicate key to its place. A week later I asked Marlies whether any letters or Christmas cards had arrived for me, and she said no. Then I had clear proof she was lying.

I believe they were afraid I might escape through a window. In any case they changed my room again. This one had a window onto an interior terrace.

March 19 was St. Joseph's Day, an important Opus Dei feast for several reasons. First, it is Monsignor Escriva's saint's day. Second, on that date vows are renewed, or whatever they are now called in the prelature: contracts, sworn promises, in the last analysis still a juridical bond before God carrying responsibilities. Furthermore, the evening before there is the custom in all Opus Dei houses and centers of making the so-called list of St. Joseph. The director writes on a sheet of paper the names of three persons that each numerary gives her, for whom she will pray and mortify herself during the year to win their vocation as numeraries. Once the list is completed, it is placed in an envelope which is closed and kept by the director until the following year. Finally, the litany of the saints and the Preces of the Work are recited. Next year on St. Joseph's Day the envelope is opened and there is jubilation when some of those whose names were written on the list are now numeraries.

I decided I was not going to commit suicide but that I had to find a way of loosening the noose around my neck. Therefore, I wrote a few lines to Monsignor Escriva, congratulating him on his feast day and telling him that I would attempt to correct my errors. (I never knew what they were.)

A few days afterward, when Monsignor Escriva came to La Montagnola, they called all of us who were in the administration to hear the Father speak. He was on the staircase, and the whole house was gathered between the vestibule and the white marble steps. In front of everyone, he addressed me and said that my letter had given him great joy. It was all the same to me. In years gone by, I would have been overjoyed by his words. Now I was so disillusioned, so broken, that the only thing I wanted was to be left alone until the General Congress so that there could be changes in the central advisory of the Work and that thereafter my situation might be definitively reviewed.

Towards the end of March, Marlies called me to go to the visitors' parlor in La Montagnola, asking me first: "Are you dressed?" "Yes," I answered. "Well, get up there at four."

I arrived at the room and I waited for an hour. I did not know what it was all about. Suddenly Father Francisco Vives and Father Severino Monzo appeared. Surprisingly, they met with me alone.

They were conciliatory. They told me that they wanted to help me "get out of the pothole." They saw months go by, and I was the same. I didn't improve. They understood that the Father had directed special words of affection and that I did not receive them as was hoped. I was to tell them what was happening to me.

Then I spoke. I told them clearly and bluntly that a) I felt like a prisoner; b) they were wearing me down in that forced isolation; c) the atmosphere around me was cold; d) they should tell me why I cannot have contact with Venezuela and why they told me lies so that people would not see, hear, or write to me; e) they didn't let me talk with the students of the Roman College of Santa Maria; f) I cannot go out alone; g) they should tell what horrendous things I had done in Venezuela, because without knowing what the sins were I could never duly repent; h) Marlies was a torture for me; i) they should have sent me to any other country in the world, except Rome; j) I didn't want to be near the Father, because he surrounded himself with a climate of suspicion, surveillance, and lack of affection. I told them what I thought of Rome and the house. I especially insisted that they change the recipient of my confidence from Marlies to somebody else, because I was afraid I might not be sincere with her; she inspired terror in me, because I knew the rage with which she spoke to me. Finally I said to them: "You have managed to break me!" And I began to cry.

To Father Severino, I said: "Besides, you, Father Severino, have known me for years. You know perfectly well that I have faced difficult and hard times and that I am not an idiot cry baby."

Then Father Francisco Vives gave a quick twist to my words: "Idiot no, cry baby very much."

Their conclusion was that things would change. I could go out alone to Mass, and even write a letter to Venezuela. I should be very sincere and humble. They would consider a different person for my confidence. I would not leave Rome, because the Father did not want that. But if I wanted to go out, I should say so, and I would go out.

Things did not change. From a "no," when I asked to walk around the block, the answer became "let me think it over and I'll tell you later." In other words, "no," just the same. I came to think that everybody was right except me. By dint of telling me that I had to forget how I had lived and what I had known in the last ten years and of Marlies objecting to anything I asked for, I noticed that my memory for names was fading. Sometimes I remembered faces but did not recall the names. I confused places and situations. By constant insistence that it was "bad spirit" to think about the past and the present, I started to think that my problem was a matter of my imagination, just as they claimed.

The moment arrived when I doubted my sanity. My memory slipped. I must confess that it has cost me years of concentration once again to remember names that were once so familiar and events that I had lived so intensely.

Years later, I understood that Opus Dei had brainwashed me; the agents were Marlies Kucking, Mercedes Morado, and, whether directly or indirectly, Monsignor Escriva.

Restricted Freedom

The "freedom" granted after the conversation with Father Severino Monzo and Father Francisco Vives consisted in accompanying a servant to the dentist or going out for half an hour on Saturday to buy flowers for the oratories at one of the stands on Viale Bruno Buozzi. One anecdote is from an afternoon I accompanied a servant to the dentist. Her name was Soledad and she was one of the oldest servants. On the bus she wondered if, perhaps, I had found things different in the house from what they were in 1952. She told me that things had changed very much. Now, they hardly went out, and when they did, it was in groups to Villa Borghese. They no longer went downtown. I asked her why and she said she didn't know, but that things had been that way for four or five years. I made not the slightest comment. I looked at my watch and saw that we had exactly fifteen minutes before the appointment with the dentist, whose office was near the Piazza del Popolo. The thought was father to the deed. I got her off the bus and guided her through the square. I showed her the church where Luther preached, and I brought her through one or two of the little streets nearby where she saw some store windows. One cannot do much in ten minutes. We went to her dentist and returned home.

That night at supper time, I noticed strange vibrations toward me from the members of the government. I truly could not guess why.

Next day, I will remember as long as I live. They were showing Mary Poppins in the aula magna (the theatre). As I was about to enter the aula magna, they told me Mercedes Morado had called me to her office. As always, she made me wait, this time some fifteen minutes. The conversation went as follows: "What do you have to tell me, Carmen?" "Nothing special. What do you want me to tell you?" "Don't you have anything to tell me, nothing that is bothering you?" "Look, Mercedes, you know everything and nothing new has come up. What can I tell you?" "You haven't spoken with someone about something that bothers you, that you think was not right?" "Well, really no." "Is your soul so coarse? Think! Let's see, Carmen, to whom have you said something incorrect?" "I haven't spoken with anybody. I only went out yesterday with Soledad, and I didn't tell her anything." "There, there. Dig deeper! Do the comments that you made to a servant seem all right to you? Let's see, tell me what happened!" "Well, nothing. She told me that they no longer go out. I told her that it seemed strange, because the Father always says that we must go out at least once a week." I went on to tell her briefly what the servant had said the day before. "But let's see. What did you say?" "Well, I already told you. That I didn't understand that, because in the Work we must go out to be in touch with people, etcetera." "No etcetera, etcetera! No! What did you tell her!" "Look Mercedes, I don't remember because I didn't have a tape recorder, but it was all about the rule that the Work gives us and that the Father would not like it if he heard."

As may be supposed, she went on to tell me I had "murmured." I had "passed judgment on the conduct of superiors and specifically the Father, speaking to a servant." I had "made comparisons between 1955 and the present." I was "giving a huge bad example." It was not the first time that similar comments that I had made in the house had gotten back to her. The correct attitude would have been to run to Marlies or her as soon as I arrived home, to report that I had made this comment to a servant. It all reflected "my great lack of spiritual finesse." I should try to imagine how hurt the Father would be when he is told.

I said I was sorry, but I had not murmured as God was my witness, but that hereafter, she need not worry, because I would speak even less than I did. I was very sorry. So, I went in to see Mary Poppins with a monstrous rebuke ringing in my ears.

A letter from Caracas reached my secret post office box, informing me that Father Jose Ramon Madurga, who was stationed in Japan, had gone to Venezuela as ordinary visitor. He had spoken to each of the members of the regional government. Different superiors wrote to tell me their particular versions. They all agreed that Father Jose Ramon came with his mind made up and was shooting to kill. They all told him about the trick with which I had been yanked out of the country.

In January 1966, there was a reunion for counselors in Rome. I asked to speak with Father Roberto Salvat, Father Jose Ramon Madurga, or Father Manuel Botas. The central advisory denied my request. As it happened, during a Mass concelebrated by Monsignor Escriva and Father Roberto Salvat and Father Jose Ramon Madurga, they asked us to bring more cushions to the sacristy of Santa Maria. The sacristy was a small triangle with mirrors so you could see yourself from all angles. We brought the cushions, and when I faced Father Roberto Salvat I looked fixedly at his eyes. He could not stand my gaze and lowered his eyes. Afterwards, when they asked him in Caracas if he had seen me, he said no. To lie about the most insignificant matter is characteristic Opus Dei policy.

Another day I also saw Father Manuel Botas in the sacristy. He could not speak to me but when he reached Spain he called my younger brother Manolo and told him to tell my parents that he had seen me in Rome and that I had failed a great deal, enough to impress the most hardened person. I had aged and was much changed.

During this period I was in charge of the oratory of Santa Maria and had to prepare the first two concelebrated Masses at which Monsignor Escriva officiated. The Father was in high dudgeon. As we were preparing the first concelebration, he said: "We will do it once, and this will not set a precedent. This is not our style." At another point, referring to the concelebrated Masses, or rather to Paul VI: "Let's see if that man rests in peace." Monsignor Escriva let show in words or gestures an attitude of disapproval regarding the application of Council doctrine. More than once I heard him make remarks about His Holiness Paul VI similar to those I had previously heard about Pius XII. "Let's see if he leaves us in peace once and for all, and the Lord God in his infinite mercy takes him to heaven." If he considered John XXIII "a hick," as many Opus Dei members could bear witness, he considered Paul VI an "old Jesuit." So, as I have mentioned earlier, it seems presumptuous when his Opus Dei biographers insist that he had ecumenical spirit or when the present Monsignor Javier Echevarria has the gall to assure the Holy See in official documents that Monsignor Escriva "felt emotion when he recalled his meetings with His Holiness Paul VI."

The General Congress of the Women's Branch of Opus Dei was to take place in Rome in May. At the eleventh hour they decided it would be held in the Villa delle Rose, seat of the Roman College of Santa Maria. One of the reasons for this change was that I was at Via di Villa Sacchetti, and the central advisory did not want the electors to meet me. The congress filled me with hope, because I thought that the leadership would change and things would go back to normal. The congress took place, and except for Pilar Salcedo, who dropped by Villa Sacchetti one afternoon, the other electors did not come to the central house. Unfortunately, there were no substantial changes. Mercedes Morado was reelected central directress and they named Marlies Kucking second in command, that is secretary of the central advisory. The Mexican, Carmen Puente, continued as procurator. This was a blow to me. I saw no solution to my problem without changes.

May 9, 1966, I made the customary May pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to which I have always had great devotion.

Second Canonical Admonition

Toward the middle of May of that year, the earth seemed to shake beneath my feet. I was summoned on the run, as always, to the sessions chamber of the central advisory. Monsignor Escriva was seated at the head of the table, with Father Francisco Vives and Father Javier Echevarria on his left; Don Alvaro del Portillo was absent. At the Father's right were the central directress, Mercedes Morado, and Marlies Kucking, in her new capacity as secretary of the central advisory. I was told to sit between Mercedes Morado and Marlies Kucking. Something horrible was in the air. Shouting, puffing, and beside himself, Monsignor Escriva said: "Look, Carmen, this has to end. You are not going to laugh up your sleeve at us."

He picked up a half sheet of paper that he had in front of him and adjusting his eyeglasses said to me: "They tell me that you write Ana Maria Gibert, that woman, that wicked woman! And that you have a post office box here in Rome."

He left the eyeglasses on the table and began shouting at me: "What is this, you great hypocrite, you deceiver, wicked woman?"

I answered him: "Yes, Father, I have written Ana Maria Gibert, but she is not a wicked woman."

Monsignor Escriva went on reading from the sheet: "And that procuress Gladys, that sow, let her come in!"

Gladys was the Venezuelan numerary who helped me with the mail. She entered the sessions chamber completely pale. Without any preamble, Monsignor Escriva began to shout at her: "Do you take letters to the post office for her, for this wicked woman? Do you comprehend the gravity of what you have done?"

Gladys remained silent. But Monsignor Escriva insisted: "Answer! ANSWER!"

Gladys unimpressed, remained silent, so I intervened. "Yes, Gladys, say you have taken some letters for me."

After that Gladys said: "Yes, Father," and she fell silent. Monsignor Escriva breathed deeply before going on. "You will no longer work for the central advisory. You will not set foot upstairs, on the advisory office floor. Let them find you some other job in the house. And now, go to your room and don't leave it for any reason! Do you hear? For any reason!

When Gladys left the sessions chamber, Monsignor Escriva told the central directress and Marlies Kucking in the presence of the priests already mentioned: "After this, take that one," he said, referring to Gladys, "lift up her skirt, take down her panties, and whack her on the behind until she talks. MAKE HER TALK!"

Addressing me, Monsignor Escriva shouted: "I give you the second admonition, hypocrite. You write me a letter on my saint's day telling me you want to begin again, and this is what you do to me! Tell these people everything, everything. You're a bad piece of work! I warn you that I'm waiting for some affidavits from Venezuela, and you'll find out what's trouble! You're a wicked woman, sleazy, scum! That's what you are! Now go! I don't want to see you!"

It is impossible to explain my state of mind: I was terrified. Leaving the sessions chamber, I had no idea of what they might do to me, and they gave me no time to think coherently. In the best tradition of secret-police procedure, I was interrogated relentlessly either by Marlies or by Mercedes. They called me to the visitors' parlor of La Montagnola, generally after lunch. Quite often I had to wait for an hour before one of them appeared.

I do not know what they wanted me to confess about my time in Venezuela. From the drift of their questions I had the impression that they were referring to something sexual, but they were never explicit. I did my best to cooperate, but since my conscience did not trouble me regarding this unknown thing, their questions were incomprehensible.

A standard question was: "Let's see. Have you thought of anything you haven't yet said?" If I answered: "But, about what? "But how can you have such a coarse conscience? Try to think of something you didn't tell us about." And so on.

I felt physically and spiritually drained. I got rid of everything I had. Specifically, I threw away the key to the post office box through the grill of the window of my room; it fell into a neighbor's garden. When Marlies and Mercedes requested the key to the box, I told them that I had thrown it away. They understood down the toilet, and I let them think that, because if I had said it had fallen into a neighbor's garden, they would have been capable of going over the ground inch by inch to find it. I got rid of all my notes, letters from my family, and other written materials. I kept only some photographs of my parents and the records that dealt with my studies, and addresses. Naturally, my passport had been taken from me on arrival in Rome, as was customary.

When I failed to see Gladys in the oratory or at meals, I guessed they had secluded her. Risking everything, I found out where her room was. When she saw me arrive, she told me terrified that several members of the central advisory had interrogated her for an entire day without interruption and had told her that speaking to me would be a mortal sin. With all the strength of my being I told her that no one could tell her that she was in mortal sin for speaking to me. She should stop worrying about me and be faithful to God. I closed her door and have never seen her again. She is still an Opus Dei numerary, living in Venezuela.

Mercedes and Marlies continued to interrogate me several times a day and the questions went on for hours. They repeated the questions time and again.

"Tell me the number of the post-office box at Piazza Mazzini," Mercedes Morado asked.

I emphatically said that I would not tell them. Then they threatened me, saying that if I didn't tell them I was in mortal sin. They also kept repeating that I was killing the Father with my conduct.

After each interrogation they brought me back to my room. An advisor, usually Elena Olivera, accompanied me, and stayed in the room with me. I remember that I remained seated in front of the desk with my head in my hands awaiting the next interrogation. They kept at me from May 14 to May 31, 1966. In addition to an advisor in my room, there was another one in the hall. Even when I went to the bathroom, both stood right outside. They even took charge of throwing away my tampons when I had my period, after first having checked them to see if there was anything inside.

When I returned to my room after each interrogation, I observed that things kept disappearing. My overnight bag, my academic records, family pictures, addresses, and family dates. They went through everything. I found the closet in disorder, the bed, my pajamas, even my toiletries such as face cream or toothpaste. I do not know what they hoped to find. They asked me from whom was I getting money. Mrs. de Sosa had only given me a good supply of stamps.

They relieved the servant who acted as concierge, and Mary Tere Echeverda took charge of the keys to the door. She was the local directress of the central advisory house.

Furthermore, the telephone in the room off the Galleria della Madonna was permanently watched by a member of the administration's local council. They did not allow me to do anything in the house, not even cleaning, or going to the dining room. I was confined to my bedroom. They brought me up a tray with my meals. I was completely sealed in. They did let me go down to the oratory to make my prayer.

I began to shake almost constantly as a result of my terror. I was afraid they would take me to a mental institution, as I knew they had done to other members of the Work. In my fright I remembered that Ismael Medina, the husband of an old friend from Spain, was a journalist in Rome. I had his telephone number, which by an odd and happy coincidence I had jotted down in my missal. I commended myself fervently to God and took a desperate risk, coming from the oratory. I managed to reach the telephone just as the member of the local council was called away. I called and I could barely say: "Ismael, this is Maria del Carmen. Come to see me. Insist even though they will not let you see me. It is serious." I hung up.

Since I shook almost constantly, Chus de Mer, the physician, who belonged to the central advisory, took my blood pressure frequently. Despite that, the interrogations continued.

One day Mercedes Morado came to my room and said: "Let's see! Give me your little reminder book, crucifix, rosary, and pen!" She took everything away.

I was just able to utter the words: "Mercedes, Tia Carmen gave me that rosary." Her answer was: "You don't deserve it."

Gathering all my courage, I told her that I had come to Rome believing in the Work and in the Father, that I was without personal problems of any kind, but they had organized a gigantic problem for me with their behavior. If I had done anything wrong, let them tell me so that I might repent. But they continued without being specific, despite the scoldings they gave me.

Visits from a Spanish Friend

Ismael Medina, the husband of my friend Conchita Banon, came to the house several times and phoned several times. They always told him that I was not in or that I was away from Rome, and they did not know when I would arrive. Finally, he told the numerary who opened the door that he would make inquiries at the Vatican. I found this out later from him. The fact is that Marlies came to my room and asked me if I knew Ismael Medina. I said I did. Next she asked me if I had called him, and I said no, so that they would not keep me from seeing him. Marlies went on to say that he was in the visitors' parlor and that I could see him but she would stay with me during the entire visit. I warned Marlies that that would seem very odd to Ismael, since I was a friend of his wife and that once when he visited Caracas, we had met at his hotel. Marlies insisted that if, during the visit he tried to see me alone, I should say that Marlies was a very good friend of mine. With this warning we arrived at the visitors' parlor.

I cannot express the joy it gave me to see Ismael. I introduced him to Marlies. After a few minutes Ismael suggested that he would like to speak to me in confidence. I docilely said that he could go ahead since Marlies was a "close friend of mine." Ismael made the obvious reply: "She may be a close friend of yours, but as for me, this is the first time I meet this lady." So addressing her, he requested politely that she have the kindness to leave us alone for a few minutes. Marlies smiled and without saying a word, she remained seated. The strange thing is that I could have spoken to Ismael and complained in front of Marlies about what they were doing to me, but I felt too terrified.

We began to speak about the "possible divorce of my parents," a completely preposterous subject, knowing as he did how united they were. Ismael told me that I would have to go to Spain to salvage the marriage and besides begged Marlies to tell my superiors that I was the eldest and had to speak with my parents.

Obviously, Ismael realized that I did not have any freedom whatsoever in view of the absurd conversation. I will always remember him saying goodbye with his eyes and giving me his telephone number. Marlies tore the number away from me as soon as the outside door closed behind him.

That very afternoon, via Julian Herranz, a numerary journalist and priest, Opus Dei located Ismael, as he explained to me days later. They told him I was leaving for Spain to be with my family (before I knew it). He was told that I had returned from Venezuela on account of a psychological crisis, not a spiritual or religious one. To this, Ismael Medina retorted dryly that he had known me for many years as a close friend and that I had never shown any such problem.

Third Canonical Admonition

On May 27 I was again summoned to the central advisory sessions chamber. I was certain that sooner or later there would be an explosion on the subject of the written meditation sent by the Venezuelan priest, which they had found in the closet, torn into tiny pieces before I had time to burn it.

This time, gathered in the central advisory sessions chamber with Monsignor Escriva were Alvaro del Portillo, Javier Echevarria, Mercedes Morado, and Marlies Kucking. Monsignor Escriva went directly to the point: "Carmen, there is no solution for you other than to get out of the Work. Choose to leave by requesting your release, and say in the letter that you have been happy, because you have! Say that for some time you have realized that you don't have the strength to fulfill the obligations to the Work and you want to be released from them. If you don't ask for it that way, I will take everything to the Holy See, with documents, letters, affidavits, the names of all parties, and everyone will be dishonored -- including you yourself. Your name, and the names of others, will remain marked in the Holy See. I give you from now till tomorrow noon to choose." With great irritation he added: "Don't put 'Dear Father' in the letter, only 'Father.'"

"You're still young," he continued, "and you can find a good husband out there and satisfy all your instincts." Saying this, he made gestures with his hands, like someone stroking another's body. "Besides, you're capable of taking charge of an office and managing it well."

Here he changed his tone, his demeanor, and his manners and added, shouting at me: "But let it be stated for the record. Third admonition: Out! OUT! Leave us in peace." Pointing at Javier Echevarria, he added with the same irritation and ill manners: "Write it down for the records! This should be kept on record!"

Monsignor Escriva continued at a bellow: "So, think it over! Either you request your release or bring dishonor to everyone, including yourself. There is no other solution for you but the street! OUT!"

I went to my room shattered. Truly, I could not even pray. Chaos reigned in my mind. Of course, the surveillance inside and outside the room continued.

Not even two hours had elapsed since the scene with Monsignor Escriva, when Elena Olivera, one of the superiors in the central advisory, arrived to ask if I had written the letter yet. I told her no. I had until the next day, and furthermore, Mercedes Morado had taken my only pen. Elena Olivera urged me to write the letter to the Father as soon as possible because he was very concerned. She loaned me her pen to write the letter requesting the release.

I managed to write the letter along the lines Monsignor Escriva had requested. The text went more or less as he had indicated to me: "Father, although I have been very happy in the Work for many years, for some time I have realized that I don't find the strength to fulfill my obligations to the Work, and I want to be dispensed from them. I thank you for all you have done for me." I signed the letter and made a copy for myself, but Mercedes Morado took it away.

Mercedes told me that it was necessary to wait since it was the weekend and the Holy See would not give Don Alvaro the confirmation of my case until Monday. This puzzled me, because the president general's dispensation was sufficient in case of "voluntary separation from the institute," according to the Constitutions in effect at the time. But, at bottom, it was all the same to me. I was like a dishrag. I was exhausted.

They told me to write my parents to say that I was coming home. The letter did not reach my parents by ordinary mail, but someone left the letter with the concierge. I learned later that my father had sent me a telegram with the answer prepaid, asking me to send him my flight number. The answer to my father went out on May 31 at 8:30 A.M., the same day I left Rome. The superiors told me they had sent the answer. I did not even see it.

The idea of returning to my parents' home was a relief. I wanted to leave the house in Rome and the Father as soon as possible. It bothered me, however, that Mercedes Morado had kept my little reminder book, whose pockets contained my Venezuelan identity documents which were valid for several more years, my Venezuelan driver's license, my international vaccination certificate, and my international driver's license. I asked Mercedes to return those documents, which were indispensable personal identification. She paid no attention. She told me that I had enough identification in my passport. I likewise reminded Marlies.

After this admonition, Mercedes Morado and Marlies Kucking told me that I had to go to confession whether I wanted to or not. So, I entered the confessional and found Father Joaquin Alonso there, not as a priest and shepherd of souls, but as an Opus Dei major superior. I said that although I didn't know how I had been at fault, because they had never told me, I particularly repented of bad example I might have given and of harm I might have done to Opus Dei members. I likewise repented of anything caused by my bad example or behavior. I really felt that way. Father Joaquin Alonso said I had caused incalculable damage, whose extent he could not even foresee; I would experience considerable psychological trauma on leaving Opus Dei, and he hoped I would seek a good psychiatrist. God would pardon me because he was the God of mercy and pardon, but he, as an Opus Dei priest, had to tell me that I needed to live a life of penance, reparation, and prayer to the end of my days, if I desired that God might eventually grant my salvation, something that he, as a priest, saw as very doubtful.

The next to the last day, they told me not to go to Mass. The last day, I went to Mass, but Elena Olivera took me out of the oratory before I could go to communion.

"Goodbyes"

On the morning of May 31 I did not know that I was to leave for Spain in the early afternoon. That morning they told me to go to the government sessions chamber. Monsignor Escriva stood in the Chalice Room. Also standing in a group were Father Javier Echevarria, Mercedes Morado, Marlies Kucking, Maria Jesus de Mer. Monsignor Escriva said tersely:

"Here is your passport, your pen, your crucifix, the plane ticket, and the Italian residence permit, because without them you can't leave the country."

When I was going to mention my other documents to him, Marlies stopped me.

Then Monsignor Escriva began to pace from one side of the room to the other, very agitated, irritated, red, furious, while he declared: "And don't talk with anybody about the Work nor about Rome. Don't set your parents against us, because, if I find out that you are saying anything negative about the Work to anybody, I, Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, have the world press in my hands," and as he said this he made a gesture with his hands confirming the notion. "I will publicly dishonor you. Your name will appear on the front page of every newspaper, because I will personally see to it. It would bring dishonor on you before men and on your own family! Woe to you if you try to alienate your family from the good name of the Work or tell them anything about this!"

He went on: "And don't return to Venezuela! Don't even think of writing to anybody there! Because if you even think of going to Venezuela, I will assume the responsibility of telling the Cardinal what you are. And it would dishonor you!" Pacing the room he continued shouting at me: "I was thinking all night about whether to tell you this or not, but I believe it is better that I should tell you." Looking directly at me, with a dreadful rage, moving his arms toward me as if he was going to hit me, he added at the top of his voice: "You are a wicked woman! A lost woman! Mary Magdalen was a sinner, but you? You are a seductress with all your immorality and indecency! You are a seductress! I know everything. EVERYTHING! EVEN ABOUT THE VENEZUELAN NEGRO! [2] You are abominable. YOU HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR BLACKS! First with one and then with the other. [3] LEAVE MY PRIESTS ALONE! DO YOU HEAR? LEAVE THEM ALONE! In peace. Don't meddle with them! You're wicked! Wicked! Indecent! Come on, look at the business of the Negro! And don't ask me for my blessing because I don't intend to give it to you!"

Monsignor Escriva went away toward the Relics Chapel. From there he turned around to shout a final insult: "Hear me well! WHORE! SOW!"

I stood stock still, frozen to the spot. I saw and heard everything as if in a nightmare. I did not cry. I did not blink. Within me, while Monsignor Escriva shouted his insults, I had only two thoughts: one that Christ remained silent in the face of accusations; the other that God had liberated me.

I might have stood petrified for the rest of my life, if the physician, Chus de Mer, had not taken me by the shoulders and brought me to my room, where Elena Olivera and Carmen Puente were packing my suitcase. They went over every dress, every skirt, looking in the pockets and even in the seams, as if they still hoped to find something. They even took my box of talcum powder and face cream. I let them do it. They brought my suitcase down.

At that moment Mercedes Morado entered my room and said to me:

"Well, in spite of what you've heard the Father say, you have to remake your life because truly you have done all sorts of things, all sorts" -- she said dragging out that word.

Then, she added: "Well, before you go, tell me the post office box number."

To that I responded: "Look Mercedes, I'm sick of all your questions and interrogations! I won't tell you the number of anything or about anybody. So don't bother asking me again, because I won't tell you." Mercedes persisted: "Don't forget that you're leaving in mortal sin."

She told me to go down to the car. I was not even allowed to enter the oratory to say goodbye to the Lord.

A female numerary named Fontan, who had many family members in Opus Dei, drove us to the airport. Marlies Kucking sat beside her. In the back were Monserrat Amat, a member of the central advisory who was returning to Spain, and myself.

I observed profound silence. I only spoke to tell Marlies Kucking that I needed my identity documents, and she echoed Mercedes Morado in a tone of profound disgust: "You have enough in the passport."

At the passport checkpoint Marlies half flirtingly tried to convince the police officers to let her enter the international section so that she could stay with us until we boarded the plane. To my relief they refused. So, we stayed a little longer outside the passport checkpoint. Marlies pointed out that Monsignor de Ussia, brother of a Spanish Opus Dei numerary, was a passenger on our flight. Monsignor de Ussia had an important position in the Vatican. Because of his Vatican post, Opus Dei transferred his sister to Rome. While I was still in Rome, we were told that he was kidnapped, and his picture appeared in the press as "il Monsignore rapito." He was eventually released.

The superiors would not leave me alone even on the plane, and thus Monserrat Amat flew to Madrid with me. During the trip I was pleasant to her, for I always considered her a great coward rather than an evil person. Every time she saw me go to the bathroom she trembled, because naturally, she could not accompany me.

In the middle of my own personal tragedy, I was amused by the presence of Monsignor de Ussia. I thought: "Here we are on the same plane to freedom, 'il Monsignore rapito e la signorina rapita.'"

I am grateful to God for the sense of humor he gave me, which helped me even at the most difficult turns in my life.

_______________

Notes:

1. Admonitions are official reprimands made to Opus Dei members concerning serious matters. At least three are required to dismiss a member. See Constitutions, 1950, pp. 62-68.

2. He referred to an Opus Dei numerary priest who always defended the Women's Branch and me as its director.

3. He referred to the telegram to Dr. Panikkar, mentioned above, that so shocked Encarnita Ortega.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:36 am

8. RETURN TO SPAIN

My Family. My Friends

My younger brother Manolo was waiting for me at the Madrid airport with Conchita Banon, Ismael Medina's wife. When my brother saw me arrive with Montserrat Amat, he asked me:

"Do you have to go with her?"

I answered:

"Not on a bet!"

I grabbed my suitcase and said to Montse: "I'm going with my family." For the first time in twelve years and after the terrible events of that morning in Rome, I was able to hug my brother and my friend, who, without pretense of sainthood, loved me deeply.

When I got into the car I began to sob uncontrollably. There had been too many emotions for one day. My friend said to me: "Cry, it will do you good. Ismael has told us a great deal already."

We took the new highway from Barajas, new for me, that is, to my parents' house on Lopez de Hoyos street, from which I had departed in 1950.

I had abandoned my parents' house in 1950, to live in houses of Opus Dei, to which I had belonged since 1948. If departure was traumatic, the return home also involved its own tensions. It meant tacitly to admit that my parents were right, that I was mistaken, that Opus Dei was not what I thought.

My mother opened the door of the house, and we embraced. I had not seen her again since that fleeting moment in 1953 in Rome. She behaved as if I had come back from an ordinary trip. I deeply appreciated it. She asked my friend to stay for lunch and had the tact to not prepare a special meal. The presence of my brother Manolo and my friend Conchita Banon helped to make these first hours in my home more relaxed. Suddenly the doorbell rang. "It's father," I said, and ran out to greet him.

He gave me a kiss as if nothing special had happened. He asked if I had had a good trip. Then he joked with my friend Conchita, saying that she had had pretty bad luck with the luncheon menu that day and began to inquire about her husband and children. My father used to lie down for thirty minutes after lunch, but as he was about to enter his room, he took several keys off his keyring and gave them to me: "This is the house key. This is the mailbox key. Keep them. Ah! This is the car key." "I don't have my driver's license now," I interrupted. "It doesn't matter," he replied, "You already have one." He continued with a smile: "If you need money, your mother can give it to you because I don't have any small bills." Then he remembered what he wanted to tell me: "Don't be in a hurry about anything. If you want to work, work. I don't have any special concern that you should."

Luncheon was especially delicious because everything was normal and calm. Afterwards, my mother showed me which room would be mine, since, there, had, of course, been changes in the house since I left. My brother Javier had finished his medical studies, was married, had several children, and lived in Barcelona.

Conchita and my brother said they would take me for a ride around Madrid. They both realized that I had experienced too many strong emotions in one day and wanted me to relax.

That night Conchita invited me to her house for supper, where I met her children and saw her husband, Ismael, who had arrived that day from Rome.

It seemed to me that I was walking around on another planet. My head was swimming. Seeing Ismael here was certainly different from our meeting a few days earlier in Rome. He explained the steps he had taken and the difficulty he had had in getting to see me, as well as his concern that something very serious had happened to me. He told me that he urged Conchita to speak to my parents. Both Conchita and Ismael have a very special place in my heart. They were not only friends but gave me back my freedom.

I subsequently visited them in Rome several times. They told me that when Opus Dei women found out that they lived in Rome, they invited them to visit Monsignor Escriva a couple of times. During the first visit, Ismael identified himself as a journalist and said that he would like an interview, but Monsignor's answer was somewhat brusque. On a second visit Escriva was more courteous.

In any case, Ismael Medina never wrote about Opus Dei. As is standard practice, the Opus Dei women were assigned to keep the couple "contented" and provided the "highest honor" of a meeting with Escriva, perhaps to prevent Ismael from writing anything adverse in view of the events related to me. Evidently, Ismael could not forget that he had evidence of how I had been robbed of my freedom, nor could Conchita Banon ever forget how abjectly I had come back to Madrid.

During the early days at home, despite my parents' efforts to smooth things over, I wept at the slightest provocation. When I tried to sleep the first night, everything spun around in my head, particularly recalling their claims that I was in mortal sin. I resolved to speak to Father Jose Todoli, the Dominican priest who worked in the Council for Scientific Research. When I called his convent the next day, I was told that he was a professor at the University of Valencia. I located him, and we agreed I would go to Valencia the following day.

Before leaving for Valencia, I called Caracas to speak to Mrs. de Sosa, but the connection was so bad we could barely understand each other. I wrote a letter explaining the events of Rome. I keep as treasures her telegrams, the first of them in answer to my phone call.

Father Todoli

I will never forget that Father Todoli had the courtesy of coming to meet me at the station in Valencia. As soon as I saw him, I said that I had to go to confession, because I was in mortal sin. He looked at me sceptically, and I assured him: "Yes, Father Todoli, I am in mortal sin." Then, he said jovially: "Well, if you are in mortal sin, I am mortally hungry, because it is very late. So we are going to have supper. Then you go to your hotel and tomorrow, if you want, you can come to church and go to confession. And don't worry," he added, "I will be responsible before God for your mortal sins."

Months later he told me how dreadful an impression I made on him when he met me at the station. He had known me before I entered Opus Dei and had been in Caracas; seeing me again he had the impression of meeting a badly treated, battered prisoner.

Next day I went to the Dominican church and explained matters in the confessional. Suddenly he said, "Enough!, caramba! He went out of the confessional. I was terrified and thought that even Father Todoli was shocked by me.

After a while he came to look for me and said: "I was waiting to give you communion. Where did you go?"

When I said that I had thought he was frightened by my confession, he made a characteristic gesture as he said: "About you no, about them. Come on, come on, come so that I can introduce you to a lady who would like to get to know you."

He introduced me to a charming woman who showed me Valencia for three days and entertained me as much as she could. Of course, I spoke to Father Todoli, who suggested that I should find some kind of a job to get back into Spanish life again so that I could begin to feel independent.

I went back to Madrid reassured and with a much more positive view of my "new" life. I established my new ground rules. I decided that my life of piety should not suffer for my experience in Opus Dei, that God was not to blame. Also, that my interior life did not need to follow a regime based on the practices of that institution.

During one of the first conversations with my younger brother, he gave me two thousand pesetas, and I asked: "Is it a little or a lot?" My brother smiled and told me I would have enough for some time, at least for transportation. Lest there should be any doubt, Opus Dei provides no social security, health insurance, or any financial assistance to anyone who leaves the institution, for whatever reason. It is also totally untrue that Monsignor Escriva "tried to help me look for a job," as affirmed by a public statement released by the central directress of Opus Dei on the appearance of the Spanish and Portugese editions of this book. [1]

When I returned from Valencia, my mother informed me that Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, my old director at Zurburan, had come to my parents' house. My mother told me that she had begun to cry, saying how sad everyone was that I had left the Work. She had asked where I was. My mother in good faith said that I had gone to Valencia. To Guadalupe's question whether anyone had called from Venezuela, my mother naively said: yes, Mrs. de Sosa. What my mother could not know was that Guadalupe had been sent by her superiors to trace my steps since returning home.

Without going into details, I told my mother that she should not receive visits by anyone from Opus Dei, no matter what the excuse. Later on that day, still influenced by Monsignor Escriva's order that I not say anything about Opus Dei to my parents, I simply told them that I had left Opus Dei because I was no longer at ease there. My father said nothing but seemed unwilling to listen to the slightest explanation of the matter.

Soon afterwards, I went to Barcelona to spend two days with my other brother, Javier and my sister-in-law, Teresa Soler, whom I met for the first time. Their children were charming and beautiful, and still quite small. I had the great satisfaction of seeing my brother work as a physician. Monsignor Escriva's threat still fresh in my mind, I explained bits and pieces of what had occurred in Rome. I found out that there were Opus Dei members within my extended family. As I was leaving, my brother and sister-in-law very generously gave me six thousand pesetas, a large amount at that time. "It's all we can do now," my brother said lovingly, "we're just beginning our life."

After a long trip to Cartagena, where I was born, to see my paternal grandmother and other family members, I decided to look for work. At my age, I could not be a burden to my parents or my brothers.

Madrid, because it had changed so much, seemed enormous to me, and I went around on foot to get familiar with it again. I resolved to set two objectives for each week: to go to a concert and visit a museum or exposition. As I rejoined normal life again, I began to discover that Opus Dei's so-called secularity was a myth. As I became part of everyday life, I was surprised, for example, to see the changes in the liturgy due to Vatican II, such as use of the vernacular instead of Latin in the Mass and that women went to church without the mantilla.

I was annoyed when my friend Mary Mely Zoppetti de Terrer de la Riva would tell me I was "immature." She observed that Opus Dei makes people immature. For example, when you leave Opus Dei, you lack a sense of the value of things and tend to feel that people are obliged to give you what you need.

I gradually realized that by isolating its members Opus Dei makes them overly dependent, even childish. Similarly, its lack of ecumenical spirit makes its members inflexible in human relations.

My first step in the search for a job was to go to the Council of Scientific Research. However, I realized that with Opus Dei members in key positions, I had no chance of getting a position there. To find work in Madrid was no easy matter for a forty-year-old woman. I did not use the recommendations I had, although my cousin Antonio Carreras helped me get a splendid one from the Marquis of Luca de Tena. I wanted to know how far I could get on my own. Finally, in July, I started to work for the prestigious law firm, J. & A. Garrigues, on Antonio Maura street. Most of the staff did not know what to make of a woman my age, who was neither married nor attached to anyone. I never spoke about my "past" and did not tell anyone that I had belonged to Opus Dei.

When I started to work for the law firm, I faced the problem of my lack of identification papers for the first time. Under treaties between Spain and Venezuela, as a Venezuelan citizen I was legally entitled to work, but the employer needed to see and keep copies of my documents. I showed my passport and was forced to lie, pretending to have lost my Venezuelan identity card and my driver's license and that, since the Consulate could not issue duplicates, I was planning to travel to Venezuela to get new copies. I was believed because of my family background, but felt manipulated by Opus Dei and cowed by Escriva's threat.

Relations with my old friends had changed, primarily because their lives as married women with children were completely different from mine. I went to lunch with my friend Maria Asuncion Mellado one day and she told me she was an Opus Dei associate. Her parents were dead, and her brother had been married for several years. Although we were good friends, I understood that her devotion to Opus Dei came before everything else, so that I was unable to reestablish our friendship for many years. In December 1991, the news that her only brother Antonio Mellado Carbonell had died quite suddenly moved me so deeply that I called Maria in Cordoba, where she had lived for years, to offer my condolences. My call surprised her very much. I found her changed, but I imagine that her regard for Opus Dei might well be the same.

In regard to my spiritual life, it was an effort to go to confession, because I did not want to speak about Opus Dei, yet it was unavoidable. Finally, one day, I went to confession to a Dominican at a church near my parents' home. First, in the confessional and then in his office, while I explained matters to him, I remember his silence. Finally, he said: "May I ask a question?" "Of course, Father," I answered. "Why do you go on believing in God?" "Because God has nothing to do with Opus Dei," was my reply.

That response, which came out of the depths of my soul, is evidently what made me preserve my faith in God and the church.

Encounter with Father Panikkar

I spent that summer in Madrid. One night at the end of September, 1966, my cousin Juan Gillman came to my parents' house with his wife. He brought a set of slides of family events from weddings to baptisms, which had occurred during my years away. The maid entered and gave me a note which the concierge had brought up. Turning on the light, I saw with astonishment Raimundo Panikkar's name and telephone number in his own handwriting. I thought it was an Opus Dei trick and with serious reservations dialed the number. To my surprise, Raimundo Panikkar was staying at a residence for priests. At the outset I told him bluntly that I had left Opus Dei a few months earlier. To my astonishment, I discovered that he had left the Work just a month later than I. He explained that he was still a priest and incardinated in the diocese of Varanasi in India.

Next day before work, I went to Mass that he celebrated at the residence for priests. We agreed to talk when I finished work that afternoon, since he was going to Argentina representing UNESCO the following day. He noted that when he arrived in Madrid he had not the slightest idea that I had left Opus Dei, but passing by my parents' house with Father Carlos Castro, whom I knew years earlier before he was a priest, it occurred to them to inquire what had become of me. They asked the concierge whether my parents still lived there and with the habitual indiscretion of concierges he said that not only did my parents still live there but that I had returned from America and was with them.

I spoke to him with my old confidence and recounted clearly the experiences of the last year in Rome, Monsignor Escriva's outbursts, how the superiors kept my personal documents, my lack of freedom, and the accusations of which I was never informed. Under different circumstances, I might have resented Father Panikkar's own role in staging my vocational crisis, but I realized that he, too, had been disillusioned by his personal experience in Opus Dei, to which he had committed himself with the highest ideals.

Father Panikkar made it clear that he understood and sympathized with my situation. When he learned that I had not told my parents the truth about what had happened, he told me that I had an obligation to do so.

Father Panikkar left for Argentina the following day. That evening I said to my parents and my brother Manolo, who was still single and living at home, that I had to speak to them. That kind of announcement was not usual in my family, and everyone expected something grave, I tensely said that I wanted to tell them about what really happened to me in Opus Dei. Although I explained matters very summarily, I was clear and to the point. I felt too upset to enter into much detail.

When I finished, my mother and brother remained silent, but my father said: "I didn't believe a word you said when you had just arrived. That's because I knew that Miguel Fisac, who is an intelligent man, said something similar, and later I found out about some of the harm Opus Dei members have done him and still do to him."

I do not know how my father knew Miguel Fisac. Perhaps someone had mentioned him in a professional connection, since my father was an industrial engineer, and Fisac an architect.

_______________

Notes:

1. In O Expresso (Lisbon), June 5, 1993, p. 42-R.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:38 am

9. REPRISALS

Correspondence Between My Father and Monsignor Escriva [1]


The day after the conversation with my family, when my father arrived home at lunch time, he asked me to read the draft of a letter to Opus Dei requesting my personal documents. He was outraged that they had been retained. "No matter what you may have done, they have no legal right to retain your personal documents. They don't even do that in prison."

Although the letter was addressed to Monsignor Escriva, it was answered by Francisco Vives. A translation of both letters follows:

Madrid, October 4, 1966

Very Reverend Monsenor Josemaria
Escriva de Balaguer y Albas,
President General of Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Rome, Italy

Dear Monsignor Escriva:

I take the liberty of writing to ask you to have the kindness of ordering the following documents, that my daughter Maria del Carmen left in Rome and that are now most necessary, be sent to me at the address below:

1) Her Venezuelan identity card. valid until 1970, similar to our Spanish identity document. Specifically, this document was inside a little weekly planning book, which Miss M. Morado took from Maria del Carmen.

2) The international vaccination certificate, a booklet with yellow covers issued in Caracas.

3) Papers recording her grades at the Madrid Central College of Commerce and other public educational institutions, Secretarial School, and so forth.

4) Birth and baptismal certificates.

5) Official Gazette of Venezuela in which her Venezuelan nationality was published.

6) Spanish Social Service Certificate [2]

7) International driver's license, valid until April 1967, issued in Caracas.

8) Any other personal documents which I might not expressly list now, but which evidently have strictly personal utility, among which are, for example, a smallish, black notebook with addresses, etc. That is to say, I repeat, papers, documents, etc., which could only concern my daughter, as, to give another example, passport-size photos.

I would like to express particular appreciation for any inconvenience my request might cause and hope you will indicate any expense you may incur so that I can reimburse you immediately.

Signed,
Francisco Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo

***

FRANCISCO VIVES
Doctor in Civil and Canon Law

Rome, October 11, 1966

Mr. Francisco Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo
Industrial Engineer
Lopez de Hoyos, 15, 5º, izda.
Madrid

Dear Mr. Tapia:

Your letter of October 4 arrived when Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer was out of Rome. However, I have had the opportunity to speak with Monsignor by telephone and in his absence, would like to answer you personally.

I will send you with pleasure those things belonging to Maria del Carmen that are here. I will wait for the opportunity of a friend's trip in the near future, which seems more secure than ordinary mail.

However, I truly regret having to say that my conscience does not permit me to send the things related to your daughter's stay in Venezuela. What I have just said doubtless requires an explanation particularly if, furthermore, one considers that quite probably you have received a notably partial and deformed version of events.

Please believe that with these lines I do not intend to increase your concerns, but rather to contribute to your daughter's wellbeing. Accordingly, I feel obliged to say that if you were aware of some of the details of your daughter Maria del Carmen's behavior in Venezuela, you would be deeply hurt, for she not only harmed herself but also seriously wronged other souls.

You will now understand better why I cannot send you anything related to your daughter's stay in Venezuela. This is likewise the reason why your daughter was absolutely advised -- and I want you to know -- not to consider returning to Venezuela. I must say with all honesty that Maria del Carmen's going to Venezuela might lead to great unpleasantness, because matters would come to light there which until now -- out of consideration for you and your wife and out of charity toward your daughter -- we have diligently silenced, maintaining total discretion.

I have tried, my dear Mr. Tapia, to be clear and tactful, bur not crude. In order that you may realize more fully the importance of what has occurred, I only wish to add that all of the means that might assist your daughter were employed during a long period. Finally, in view of her having lost her way, there was no choice but to open a process, fulfilling the norms of Canon Law with maximum justice and charity and using the utmost delicacy at each step.

I hope you will also understand why we have not informed you about these matters. We have wished to cover her faults with the mantle of charity, and the proof is that we have not informed even you about these lamentable events. By contrast, it is evident to me that Maria del Carmen does not maintain this silence-nor does she honor the truth-which astounds me, because if we permit the truth to be known, it would be most painful for her.

I must not end without expressing my deep sorrow at what has occurred and the hope that Maria del Carmen will finally reorient her life and forget the past, as those of us whose duty required that they be involved in this matter, have done.

Yours sincerely,
Francisco Vives


With Father Francisco Vives' letter to my father were enclosed my final examination grades from the Central College of Commerce, the weekly grade booklet from the French Dominican Sisters School in Valladolid, and a few other final examination grades of miscellaneous courses, but nothing else.

I did not find out that my father had received this letter until a couple of weeks later. My father was a very calm man, opposed to violence, unable to hurt a human being. He was a good colleague and a good superior. He was a man of integrity. Everybody under his orders deeply revered him because he was always fair. I do not recall that my father ever spoke badly of anyone. He always tried to give in to "the other side" to calm tempers. Even when he was denounced in the civil war, he never took reprisals against those responsible. Given my father's character, he could not conceive that Monsignor Escriva had ordered that anything of this sort could be written; my father was certain that it would hurt me deeply. He resolved to go to England, where, as he had discovered, Dr. Panikkar was delivering the Tape Lectures at Cambridge. He wanted to ask him if he ought to show me that letter. He sought this advice because he knew Dr. Panikkar was a priest, had been my spiritual director, and had left Opus Dei. That my parents should travel to England did not surprise me, because they went frequently on account of my father's professional activities.

Raimundo Panikkar told my parents two things: first that they should show me the letter, and second, that Father Vives' letter was blackmail. It was important that I be made aware of its content.

When my parents returned, they gave me the letter. After my experiences in Rome, nothing surprised me anymore. After reading the letter, I finally told my parents in detail about my time in Rome and Monsignor Escriva's insults.

At the time my father received Francisco Vives' letter the only specific charge I had heard was that I had "murmured," that is, dared to criticize notes sent by Monsignor Escriva to Venezuela as irrelevant for that country. The uninitiated may find it difficult to believe that for Opus Dei this is of capital importance. Two years ago, in a public statement issued by the Opus Dei central directress, I heard for the first time that "I was planning a coup d'etat in Venezuela." For anyone familiar with the rigid centralism within Opus Dei, it is hard to imagine a more preposterous accusation.

My familiarity with the internal workings of Opus Dei made me dangerous outside the institution. Toward me, as toward others who have left and might talk about the association, the tactic has been to intimidate and then to launch vague accusations that generally involve insinuations of mental instability or sexual deviation. Opus Dei never accuses up-front and clearly, but always uses unspecific terms that, nevertheless, can be easily interpreted.

In subsequent chapters, I will present the charges that Opus Dei made against me to the Holy See in 1981, as they are recorded in the Acts of Monsignor Escriva's process of beatification in the Vatican archives. By describing me as a "perverse" person, Opus Dei managed to dissuade Vatican authorities from calling me as a close observer of Monsignor Escriva's life.

The description was presented to the Vatican by Monsignor Javier Echevarria. Monsignor Echevarria never heard my confession nor talked to me alone. Curiously, his recent election to the post of Opus Dei prelate was based, according to its Constitutions, on his "prudence, piety, charity toward the prelature and zeal for his fellow men." [3]

My father was very concerned. When I explained that there were people who witnessed Escriva's words and insults to me, my father said to me: "Those people, as insects, are ready to give their lives for the sake of the cause, not for the sake of the truth." He was afraid that they might do something to me. We seriously considered legal action, because of my father's fear of recriminations. He preferred to wait several months, but in March 1967, since my documents never arrived, he felt it was appropriate to send another letter to Monsignor Escriva, which follows.

No reply was ever made to this letter, although I have the return receipt confirming that it was received in Rome. My father died in September 1969 and he never received a reply from Rome.

Madrid, March 9, 1967

Very Reverend Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer y Albas
President General of Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Rome, Italy

Dear Monsignor Escriva:

I have received Dr. Francisco Vives' letter of the past October 11, in which he responds in your name to my letter of October 4. The letter was hand delivered at my office, accompanied by some of the documents mentioned in my letter.

Since that date I have been waiting to receive the remaining personal documents belonging to my daughter, Maria del Carmen, also requested in my letter. I was confident that, in spite of what Dr. Vives declared in his letter, you would understand that, as these are personal documents which belong purely and simply to my daughter, they ought to be returned to me.

However, these documents have not been sent to me, and therefore, I beg you once again, to arrange to have them sent as soon as possible. These are personal documents that she must have at her disposal; the unavailability of these documents may cause legal consequences. For these reasons, there is no justification for their retention by you.

In regard to your reference to my daughter's possible trips to Venezuela, there is nothing I can tell you. Only God knows the future of each particular person. Neither you nor I can limit her freedom of movement. As you well know, we all must respect personal freedom.

While I await the requested documents I am,

Yours sincerely,
Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo

FJT/lal


Toward the end of 1966, while I was at work in the Garrigues law firm, my mother called me at work one day to say that Dr. Lilia Negron and her husband, Dr. Jose Nunez, had phoned me at home. My poor mother, burned by her experience with Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, merely told them to call that evening, without giving them my work number, but they had left the number of the hotel where they were staying. I called at once with great delight and we made an appointment to meet that very afternoon.

The reunion moved me deeply. I narrated my Roman odyssey and said that while, on the one hand, I was afraid of going mad, on the other, I was terrified by the possibility that they might shut me up in an insane asylum. They glanced at each other and said: "There you go. Do you realize?"

They had been greatly puzzled by my failure to answer any of the series of letters they wrote. That was compounded by the mysterious attitude of the superiors in Venezuela -- however much Lilia asked for me, they never revealed where I was -- and by the fact that they had also sent Ana Maria Gibert and Begona Elejalde to Spain without explanations.

Putting the pieces together, it became clear that the fact that Ana Maria Gibert was my directress and that I had written to her while I was in Rome led Opus Dei superiors to behave toward her in the deplorable way described earlier and then, as a punishment, sent her to Spain.

Knowing Opus Dei's modus operandi, Lilia and her husband took very seriously the possibility that they might have committed me to an asylum to get me out of the way. The idea shocked them, but they did not reject it, resolving to go to Spain. Since Lilia was a psychiatrist, they reasoned that they were the only people who could get me out of wherever I was.

The first step they took on reaching Madrid was to telephone Beatriz Briceno, a Venezuelan Opus Dei numerary, now a journalist and in Madrid for some time, to ask for my address. Beatriz said she did not know it, because "I lived in a village without a telephone." Naturally, they did not believe her. (In fact, Beatriz Briceno knew perfectly well where I lived; she herself resided in the next block from my parents' house and through my younger brother I discovered that Beatriz used to visit my parents occasionally.) So, Lilia and her husband began to go through the Madrid telephone directory calling all the Tapias listed, until my mother answered one of the calls.

Of course, when they left Madrid, Lilia and her husband went to bid Beatriz goodbye and let her know that, I didn't "live in any village."

On Dr. Panikkar's return from Argentina he asked me to work part-time for him and to take care of his publications, to which I agreed. He returned to India, where he was living, and I continued to work for the Madrid law firm until February 1967, when I became convinced that I could not do two jobs. I resolved to leave the law firm to work full time for Dr. Panikkar.

The United States

In May 1967, I came to the United States for the first time. Professor Panikkar had accepted an invitation from Harvard University and had begun to teach in February 1967.

I spent the summer of 1967 at Manhattanville College in White Plains, New York, where a routine medical checkup discovered uterine tumors that needed to be removed as soon as possible. Since I had no health insurance and was alone, I left for Caracas at the invitation of my friends, the Nunez's, who sent me a plane ticket. Dr. Romulo Lander, who had been my personal physician for years, was also in Caracas.

I stayed at the Nunez's home in Caracas. The emotions at my return to that beloved country were almost indescribable.

I renewed my acquaintance with many cherished friends. Among them was Cecilia Mendoza, a former numerary, who left Opus Dei because she refused to testify against me to the Opus Dei priest who arrived as an official visitor to inquire about my behavior. Cecilia, who was in Maracaibo, was questioned about anything that she might have noticed in my behavior against the spirit of the Work. She replied that I had a strong and straightforward character and that she had not seen anything in my attitude against the spirit of Opus Dei. Persistently interrogated and asked to dig down into her consciousness about my behavior, she told the priest that she could make no other statement. She left Opus Dei, upset and furious about the grilling.

Shortly after leaving, she met Tomas Gunz, whom she married a year later. Her husband, Tomas, likes to say that thanks to me he met his wife.

The primary objective, however, for my trip to Caracas was to visit the Nuncio and His Excellency Cardinal Quintero, to tell them that Monsignor Escriva had said that if I went back to Venezuela he would tell the Cardinal "who I was." The Nuncio listened in silence and said that I should not worry, because "God sees the truth of human beings in their hearts." At my insistence that he interrogate me about whatever and however he pleased, Cardinal Quintero repeated: "Don't forget, daughter, superiors, too, make mistakes."

Dr. Lander's evaluation concurred that I needed to undergo surgery. He offered to do it himself, but given that my parents were in Madrid, I returned to Spain, where Dr. Leon Lopez de la Osa performed the surgery. Fortunately, I had no cancer.

The topic of Opus Dei faded into history, or so I thought. There followed a period of readjustment to normal life, until I came across Opus Dei again.

Responsibility for Dr. Panikkar's publications required extensive travel, since he resided in India and taught at Harvard. Eventually, I decided to stay in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for six months of the year and divide the rest of my time between Europe and South America.

The dominant recollection of the years from 1966 to 1971 is of difficulty and isolation. However, my work, the travel, new acquaintances, new countries, and my religious faith helped dissipate my inner isolation.

God helped by giving me the insight to reconstruct my new personal life: new friends in different countries and new languages; involvement again in things I always enjoyed like art, music, and reading. My time at Harvard was very interesting and helpful. I spent long hours at the Harvard libraries and attended English classes and French literature lectures.

The University of Santa Barbara offered Dr. Panikkar a position as full professor in 1971, a move that made me come to the West Coast for the first time and establish residence in California.

Correspondence to Obtain My Certificate of Studies

The University of California started the paper work for my application as a permanent resident of the United States.

I then stumbled onto an unexpected problem while trying to fill one of the immigration questionnaires. I had to list my occupation and addresses during several years when I had belonged to Opus Dei.

It was easy to list addresses of the houses where I had lived in Opus Dei. The difficulty was to explain my professional occupation to the Immigration Service. As a secular institute, Opus Dei did not confer any juridical status on its members. So, to tell the State Department that I had been an Opus Dei numerary and had occupied leadership positions was more or less like saying that I had been a YMCA member, or rather less, since the YMCA is infinitely better known that Opus Dei in the United States. Hence, it was as if I had been in limbo for a number of years.

The dean of foreign students and scholars counseled me in this tedious process and advised that the best thing would be to explain what courses of studies I had completed during my affiliation with Opus Dei. In other words, I should request of Opus Dei a certificate -- not a transcript -- where those studies would be listed.

Needless to say, the Immigration Service and, in the last analysis, the State Department require such information as a condition for consideration for permanent residence status in the United States. The questionnaires are taken seriously, and vague answers are not tolerated.

Copies of the entire official correspondence dealing with the request for a certificate of Opus Dei studies appear in Appendix A in chronological order. It includes a series of replies systematically denying that I had ever studied as a member of the Work. The replies were given to government agencies. There is also a somewhat confused explanation of the matter sent by Opus Dei to the Holy See.

The affair was serious because a file developed in the international office of the university, in which Opus Dei superiors denied in writing what I had affirmed as true in the questionnaires. If my supporting material had been reviewed within a certain time period, the result would have been that I would seem to have committed perjury.

I struggled to obtain the certificate of studies for six years. Finally, an Opus Dei priest who had been a professor in the majority of the courses realized the grave harm that the groundless refusal of the Opus Dei superiors might occasion, possibly including deportation. One does not play games with the State Department. He decided in conscience to give me the certificate himself. Unfortunately, that action led to serious reprimand, from Opus Dei superiors, a break in communications with me and others and the threat that if he contacted me again, he would be expelled from the association. Since he became the object of Opus Dei's customary interrogations and isolation, I have inked out his signature in the Appendix.

You must understand that all these letters, which Opus Dei sent to persons who, in their official capacity, sought information regarding my studies, were written with the consent of Monsignor Escriva. In Opus Dei any member, superior or not, signs anything whatever requested by "our Father" (as Monsignor Escriva has been called within Opus Dei since his death) or the Father (as the reigning prelate is familiarly called). This is true even though the author of a letter knows that he is distorting the truth. If it "suits the good of the Work" nobody would dare not to sign or write what they are given, even though they clearly know that the facts are misrepresented. A patent example is the case of Father Roberto Salvat Romero, Monsignor Escriva's representative in Venezuela. Besides being a Spanish lawyer, he was also my professor in the ethics course and he claimed on different occasions that I had not done any studies in the institution in Caracas.

I have often wondered why they did not want to give me a certificate for the courses I had completed, which would not have involved any degree, but a confirmation that I had taken a number of subjects based on syllabi established by Opus Dei and had obtained certain grades in them. Doubtless this is simply a reprisal, with the hope of discrediting me by making me appear as a liar before government agencies. This is the standard practice of Opus Dei. Besides, the question of Opus Dei's internal studies has not been totally resolved in regard to outside educational authorities. Opus Dei prefers not to clarify the nature of its internal studies to avoid any possible evaluation by outside academics.

A blatant example of a more violent and hurtful reprisal was the campaign organized against Maria Angustias Moreno, when she published her book El Opus Dei: Anexo a una historia (Barcelona: Planeta, 1976), which portrayed Opus Dei in detail. By order of the superiors, the volume was swept up from bookstores, exhausting an edition, thus impeding its diffusion. I managed to buy the book during a trip to Madrid. I had never met the author although she was an Opus Dei numerary for many years. Criticisms of the book or better against the book from persons who were unquestionably close to Opus Dei culminated in a campaign of character assassination, which led Maria Angustias Moreno to publish a second book, La otra cara del Opus Dei (Barcelona: Planeta, 1979), which documents these attacks.

Exclusions of Witnesses Considered Not Suitable

Opus Dei does not play fair. Though Monsignor Escriva used to repeat that "we must drown evil in an abundance of goodness," his association engages in reprisals in order to reach its goals. It uses slander to defend itself, and given its own obsession, the slander always hints at sexual misconduct. At the risk of jeopardizing my own reputation, I believe it is important to stress the extent to which Opus Dei employs this strategy. It is very sad that an institution of the church that uses the word "pax" as the customary greeting among its members, whose Founder claimed that "we are sowers of peace and joy," can stoop so low as to denigrate persons in writing, even hiding behind official ecclesiastical secrecy.

In late 1991 and early 1992 Opus Dei stated to the press, sometimes without mentioning names, that a number of persons had not been called to testify in Monsignor Escriva's beatification process, because the tribunal for the Process for the Cause of Beatification had decided that the persons were not suitable. What Opus Dei never said was why those persons were not suitable, nor who supplied the Tribunal with such information.

Popular wisdom is generally right. The Spanish saying that "there is nothing hidden between heaven and earth" is very true. Sooner or later things always unravel. The summary of the Acts of the Madrid Tribunal for Monsignor Escriva's beatification (p. 2133) declares in regard to the "exclusion of some possible witnesses":

b) Existence of a campaign of defamation against the servant of God and Opus Dei. In the search for other possible contrary witnesses to be cited by us, the Tribunal examined individual attitudes of several possible candidates, and after having gathered the necessary evidence, reached the conclusion that these also were to be rejected, just as Miss Moreno had been.

The Tribunal further came to demonstrate the existence of a campaign of defamation seeking to put obstacles to the Cause of the Servant of God.... The larger part of those persons was made up of individuals who, after having been part of Opus Dei for some years, had abandoned their vocations and presently cultivate intense resentment.... In this regard, the Madrid Tribunal gathered a rather eloquent documentation. Particularly significant was Miss Carmen Tapia (who turned out to have been involved in the preparation of the program La Clave and to have suggested furthermore that Opus Dei priests lacked respect for the sacramental seal).... The Tribunal made the statement based on the information gathered, that the behavior of these persons made them unsuitable to testify in a Canonical Process and in fact unreliable to clarify the truth. [4]


The actual facts are that there exists no campaign of defamation against the beatification of Monsignor Escriva, nor against Opus Dei, nor is there a group organized to these ends. [5] Opus Dei has invented this to claim martyrdom. The simple truth is that I did not participate in any session of La Clave, as can easily be confirmed by the television chain that broadcasts the program. I was invited to participate in the program in May 1984, but I was not part in any way of its preparation. What is more, the refusal by its organizers to tell me who the Opus Dei participants were in the program, while, by contrast, Opus Dei did know the names of the other guests, led me to decline the invitation. Indeed, the Madrid newspaper, El Pais, published a note with this information. [6]

Let us consider now other paragraphs from pages 2136 and 2137 of the Documentary Appendix of the Summary of Monsignor Escriva's process of beatification, which refer to me:

6. In effect, during the process, the Tribunal attempted to obtain information about persons who had had relations with the Servant of God and could or should be called as witnesses. We thus were able to discover that there is a group of persons that appears to be associated with Miss Maria Angustias Moreno in that same fundamental attitude of aversion toward Opus Dei. When they can, these individuals do not hesitate to direct such aversion against the Servant of God as the founder of this institution....

The majority of these persons signed a collective letter against Opus Dei, which appeared in the Diario de Barcelona, January 30, 1977, subsequently reprinted in other sensationalist or pro-Marxist periodicals and magazines. We attach a photocopy of that letter in Appendix III.

10. Although she does not appear among the signatories of the mentioned letter, Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia, who used to belong to Opus Dei, is also part of this group. We have found out that she had a major share in the preparation for the program La Clave, which Spanish Television devoted to Opus Dei (Cf. Appendices I and II). In Appendix IX there are photocopies of notes by Miss Tapia sent to Spanish Television for the development of that program. During the program she was mentioned on several occasions both by the director of La Clave and by Miss Maria Angustias Moreno. She generally resides in California (USA) but makes frequent trips to Spain and has been in contact with Miss Moreno. Her open hostility to Opus Dei and incidentally to the Cause was obvious also in two long letters, one published in the daily paper El Pais (February 17, 1988), and the other earlier, directed to Miss Moreno to express her solidarity with Miss Moreno's first book against Opus Dei. The letter was reproduced in Miss Moreno's second book (Appendix X). [7]


Opus Dei obstinately asserts that I belong to some group. The truth is that I ended up so burned by having belonged to their group, the Opus Dei, that today I shun the G in group!

I did not participate in the planning of the program. I do not recall the letter they say I wrote to El Pais. What is frightening, really frightening, is the spy network Opus Dei seems to have organized to check my correspondence and follow my movements.

Moreover, obvious questions remain. How does anything set forth in those Acts and Summary constitute an impediment to my testimony about a person I knew so well and for so long. My sanctity is not at issue but that of Monsignor Escriva. Are persons not in agreement with Monsignor Escriva ipso facto anathema, even though we continue to be faithful children of the church? Are slander and aggression the doctrine that Monsignor Escriva left as an inheritance to Opus Dei? All this reflects badly on the charity which, as they maintain, Monsignor Escriva lived heroically but which, during the six years that I spent in Rome as a major superior in Opus Dei, I never witnessed.

Doubtless, Opus Dei feared that we who knew Monsignor Escriva so very well might tell the truth and that the likelihood of his beatification and eventual canonization would thereby be less likely. To prevent us from testifying in the cause, Opus Dei's approach was to allege deeds which would make us unacceptable witnesses beyond a shadow of a doubt. Since these declarations were secret, and they were convinced that the interested parties would never discover them, they did not hesitate to attack with low, disgraceful slander about sexual conduct. This is demonstrated by the declarations made regarding me by Monsignor Javier Echevatria, then general secretary of Opus Dei and now prelate. They appear on pages 610 and 611 of the "Summary of the Roman Process for the Cause of Beatification of Monsignor Jose Marla Escriva."

2347. Unfortunately, it was not to be, because years later, she attempted to pervert several women with the worst aberrations. As soon as the Servant of God knew certain facts, he called Carmen Tapia -- who was in Venezuela -- to Rome. Here he announced to her that she would not return to that country, and from her reaction deduced that there were more important matters than those already known, in which several persons were involved. In the face of such horrendous depravity, which cost Servant of God many tears on account of the most serious offenses to the Lord, and for which he tried to make reparation with constant prayer and penance, he told this woman that she had two solutions: to seek a dispensation which would be immediately granted, or to not seek it, and then it would be necessary that she be subjected to a process, which would be sent to the Holy See, leaving her -- as she deserved -- completely dishonored on account of her wayward life. That woman sought the dispensation. As the Servant of God understood that she was a person without conscience, he warned her that if she slandered the work with her corruption, there would be no choice but to inform about who was the slanderer. We have found out, unfortunately, that this woman has continued on this disastrous path. [8]


The complete lack of charity toward a fellow human being is striking. If this alleged "horrendous depravity" had been real, Monsignor Escriva's task in charity would have been to be silent about it. But it is not Christian to employ slander and defamation to keep a person from testifying in Monsignor Escriva's process.

The reader ought in fairness to receive two clarifications: a) Monsignor Escriva never wept for the sins of anyone and did not wish us to weep for anything or anyone. "You must be strong, my daughters." Speaking of his death, he even used to say: "The day I die, a few tears because we are human, but then, to work, hey!" b) Bishop Javier Echevarria, or "Javi" as he was familiarly known in Opus Dei, was never my confessor nor was he a superior of the Women's Branch during the eighteen years that I spent in Opus Dei. I never spoke confidentially with him during all those years nor at any other time. He was, however, present at the scoldings and insults that Monsignor Escriva hurled at me on the occasion of my expulsion. It was he who recorded in an official document (Monsignor Escriva's) admonitions to me.

_______________

Notes:

1. Copies of my father's two letters to Monsignor Escriva in Spanish as well as the reply from Francisco Vives may be found in Appendix B.

2. Under Franco the Social Service Certificate was required for women as a rough equivalent of military service for men. Consequently, this certificate was necessary in order to get a passport or to obtain work.

3. Codex Juris Particularis Operis Dei, no. 131, para. 3.

1. "b) l'esistenza di una campagna diffamatoria contra il Servo di Dio e l'Opus Dei. Nella ricerca di altri eventuali testi conrari da citare d'ufficio, il Tribunale esamino le singole posizioni di diversi possibili candidati e, dopo aver raccolto le prove necessarie, giunse alla conclusione che anche costoro andavano scartati, per gli stessi motivi per cui lo era stata la sig.na Moreno.

"II Tribunale pervenne anzi all'evidente constatazione dell'esistenza di una campagna diffamatoria mirante ad ostacolare la Causa del Servo di Dio, la cui esponente piu in vista era proprio la sig.na Moreno, ma alla quale collaboravano attivameme anche altri. La maggior parte di castoro era costituita da persone che, dopa aver fatto parte per alcuni anni dell'Opus Dei, avevano abbandonato la vocazione e coltivano attualmente un acceso risentimemo. Pochi avevano avuto rapporti diretti con il Servo di Dio su questi il Tribunale di Madrid raccolse una documentazione assai eloquente. Si trattava, in particolare, della sig.na Carmen Tapia (che risultava essere intervenuta nella preparazione della trasmissione "La Clave", suggerendo addirittura di accusare i sacerdoti dell'Opus Dei di mancato rispetto del sigillo sacramentale).... il Tribunale dichiarava doversi concludere, in base ai dati raccolti, che la loro stessa condotta li rendeva inidonei a testimoniare in un Processo canonico a comunque inattendibili in ordine all acclaramemo della verita;" "Sull'esclusione di alcuni possibili testi: I. Atti del Tribunale Matritense," in Romana et Matriten. Beatificationis et Canonizationis Servi Dei Josephmariae Escriva de Balaguer, Sacerdotis Fundatoris Societatis Sacerdotalis S. Crucis et Operis Dei, Positio Super Vita et Virtutibus: Summarium (Rome, 1988), p. 2133.

5. In the United States ODAN (Opus Dei Awareness Network), of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has the goal of supporting persons who have suffered because of Opus Dei. They are not so much concerned with Escriva's beatification as with alerting families about Opus Dei tactics.

6. El Pais, May 26, 1984.

7. "6. Efectivamente, durante el Proceso, el Tribunal trato de obtener informacion sobre personas que hubieran tenido relacion con el Siervo de Dios y que pudieran o debieran ser llamadas como testigos. Pudimos asi averiguar que hay un grupo de personas, en el que todas se muestran unidas a dona Maria Angustias Moreno en esa misma fundamental actitud de aversion al Opus Dei, que no dudan en descargar, cuando pueden, sobre el Siervo de Dios, como Fundador de esta Institucion....

"La mayoria de estas personas son las que firmaron una carta colectiva contra el Opus Dei que aparecio en el Diario de Barcelona del 30.1.1977 y que fue reproducida despues en otros organos de opinion y en revistas de caracter sensacionalista a de inspiracion marxista. Adjuntamos en Anexo III una fotocopia de aquella carta....

"10. Aunque no figura entre los firmantes de la carta citada, forma tambien parte de este grupo dona Maria del Carmen Tapia, que pertenecio al Opus Dei. Hemos sabido que tuvo una decisiva participacion en los preparativos del programa "La Clave", que Television espanola ha dedicado al Opus Dei (cfr. Anexos I y II). En el Anexo IX se recogen fotocopias de unas notas de la Srta. Tapia enviadas a la Television espanola para la elaboracion de ese programa. Durante el programa fue citada en varias ocasiones, tanto par el Director de "La Clave", como por dona Maria Angustias Moreno. Reside habitualmente en California (USA), pero hace viajes frecuentes a Espana y ha mantenido relacion con la Srta. Moreno. Su manifiesta hostilidad al Opus Dei -- y, de rechazo, a la Causa -- queda tambien patente en las dos extensas cartas, una publicada en el diario El Pais (Madrid, 17.XI.1981), y la otra, anterior, dirigida a la Srta. Moreno para solidarizarse con el primer libro publicado por esta contra el Opus Dei, y transcrita en su segundo libro (Anexo X)" Ibid., p. 2136-37.

8. "2347 (p. 769). Desgracidamente no debio ser asi, porque al cabo de los anos intento la perversion de unas cuantas mujeres con las peores aberraciones. El Siervo de Dios, apenas tuvo conocimiento de algunos hechos, llamo a Carmen Tapia -- que estaba en Venezuela -- a Rama; aqui le anuncio que no volveria a ese pais, y por su reaccion, dedujo que habia cuestiones mas importantes que las ya conocidas en las cuales habia involucrado a varias personas. Ante tan horrenda depravacion, que costa mucho llanto al Siervo de Dios por las gravisimas ofensas al Senor, y que trato de reparar con una costante oracion y penitencia, dijo a esa mujer que tenia dos soluciones: pedir la dispensa, que se le concederia inmediatamente, o no pedirla, y entonces habria de someterse a un proceso, que seria enviado a la Santa Sede, quedando -- como se merecia -- completamente deshonrada por su extraviada vida. Aquella mujer pidio la dispensa; y como el Siervo de Dios comprendio que era una persona sin conciencia, Ie advirtio que si calumniaba a la Obra con su corrupcion, no habria mas remedio que informar sobre quien era la calumniadora.

"Hemos sabido que, desgraciadamente, esta mujer ha seguido por esos desastrosos derroteros." "Sull'esclusione di alcuni testi: II. Ani del Tribunal Romana," in ibid., pp. 610-11.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:40 am

10. PORTRAITS

On January 13, 1902, in Barbastro, the pastor of the cathedral, Father Angel Malo, solemnly baptized a baby boy born at 10 P.M. on the ninth, legitimate son of Mr. Jose Escriba, born in Fonz, and Mrs. Dolores Albas, born in Barbastro, spouses, residents, and merchants of the city. The paternal grandparents were Mr. Jose, of Peralta de la Sal, deceased, and Mrs. Constancia Corzan, of Fonz. The maternal grandparents were Mr. Pascual, deceased, and Mrs. Florencia Blanc, of Barbastro. The baby was christened Jose Maria Julian Mariano. His godparents were Mr. Mariano Albas and Mrs. Florencia Albas, uncle and aunt, both residents of Huesca, whose authorized representative was Mrs. Florencia Blanc, to whom I directed the ritual warnings. [1]

A marginal annotation reads:

By order of the very illustrious episcopal delegate of this diocese of Barbastro, given May 27, 1943, the surname Escriba on this certificate is changed "to Escriva de Balaguer," so that hereafter it shall be written: Jose Maria Julian Mariano Escriva de Balaguer Albas, legitimate son of Mr. Jose Escriva de Balaguer and Mrs. Dolores Albas.

Barbastro, June 20, 1943 [2]
Jose Palacio


Note that the names with which he was christened were Jose, Maria, Julian, and Mariano. His biographers claim that devotion to the Virgin led him to combine the first two names. I heard Monsignor Escriva explain that he signed internal documents of the work "Mariano" out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

The font in which Monsignor Escriva was baptized was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Opus Dei had it reassembled and transported to the central house in Rome.

International Who's Who for 1967-68 contains the following entry on p. 387:

Escriva de Balaguer, Mgr. Josemaria, D.IUR., S.T.D., Spanish ecclesiastic; b. 9 Jan. 1902; ed. Saragossa, Madrid, and Lateran Pontifical Univs.

Ordained 25; founded Opus Dei 28; former Superior, [3] Saragossa Seminary, Rector, Real Patronato de Santa Isabel, Prof. of Philosophy, Madrid School of Journalism, Prof. of Roman Law, Univ. of Madrid and Saragossa, [4] Doctor, h.c. of Univ. of Saragossa, memo Colegio de Aragon, Grand Chancellor Univ. of Navarra; memo A[c]cademia Theologica Romana, Consultor (Adviser) of the S.c. of Seminaries and Univs. of the Pontifical Comm. for the Aurhentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Holy See; Pres. Gen. Opus Dei.

Publs. The Way, Holy Rosary, The Abbess of Las Huelgas, Spiritual Considerations, The Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia and Opus Dei, [5] and works of ascetic literature, law and history.

Viale Bruno Buozzi 73, Rome, Italy.


According to Escriva's biographer, Andres Vazquez de Prada, [6] Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo petitioned the Holy See for the nomination of Monsignor Escriva as "Domestic Prelate of His Holiness the Pope" which was granted to him on May 25, 1947, by official letter from His Eminence Cardinal G. B. Montini. [7]

Circumstances surrounding his doctorate in law have never been clarified. One of his official biographers, Peter Berglar, mentions on page 388 of his work, cited above: "In December 1939, Monsignor Escriva obtains the doctorate in Law at the University of Madrid." This academic degree was never discussed in Opus Dei, and it does not seem that anyone has ever seen the diploma. The topic of the thesis for the degree was also never mentioned. La Abadesa de las Huelgas by Monsignor Escriva, published in 1944 by Rialp, can hardly be the doctoral thesis for his law degree. However, Escriva did use this book as a thesis for the doctorate in theology granted by the Lateran University. In its official documents Opus Dei does not indicate when this latter degree was granted. As nearly as I can calculate, it must have been between 1957 and 1961.

The Spanish Ministry of Justice Official Guide to Grandezas y Titulos del Reina announced that Monsignor Escriva had been granted the title of Marquis of Peralta on November 5, 1968. [8]

PERALTA, Marquis of
Granted: March 4, 1718, confirmed by Royal Provision of Fernando
VI, December 4, 1758.
Granted to: Don Tomas de Peralta, Secretary of State, War,
and Justice of the Kingdom of Naples.

DON JOSE MARIA ESCRIVA DE BALAGUER Y ALBAS
Letter issued: November 5, 1968.
Residence, Rome, Bruno Buozzi, 73. Tel. 87 90 42.


Several years before this public notice appeared, a brief document informed Opus Dei members that this title had been granted to Escriva. The same document instructed us not to speak about it. On November 17, 1972, that is four years later, this same Ministry of Justice publication announced that the title was being officially transferred to Monsignor Escriva's brother, Santiago Escriva de Balaguer y Albas, previously named Baron of San Felipe.

Opus Dei distributes the following profile of Monsignor Escriva to the general public. [9]

Blessed Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He was ordained to the priesthood in Saragossa on March 28, 1925.

On October 2, 1928, in Madrid, by divine inspiration he founded Opus Dei, which has opened up a new way for the faithful to sanctify themselves in the midst of the world, through the practice of their ordinary work and in the fulfillment of their personal, family and social duties. They thus become a leaven of intense Christian life in all environments. On February 14, 1930, Blessed Josemaria Escriva by God's grace understood that Opus Dei was meant to develop its apostolate among women as well. And on February 14, 1943, he founded the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, inseparably united to Opus Dei. Opus Dei received the definitive approval of the Holy See on June 16, 1950. On November 28, 1982, it was erected as a personal Prelature, a juridical form desired and foreseen by Blessed Josemaria Escriva.

He guided and inspired the growth of Opus Dei throughout the whole world with constant prayer and penance and by the heroic practice of all the virtues. In doing so, he showed loving dedication and untiring concern for all souls, and a continual and unconditional surrender to God's will. When he yielded up his soul to God, Opus Dei had spread to five continents with over 60,000 members of 80 nationalities, serving the Church with the same veneration for and complete union with the Pope and bishops that Blessed Josemaria Escriva always lived.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was the center and root of his interior life. His profound awareness of being a son of God, expressed in a constant presence of the Holy Trinity, moved him to seek complete identification with Christ in everything, to live a deep and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and to enjoy a continual and confident friendship with the holy guardian angels. This made him a sower of peace and joy along all the ways of the earth.

Msgr. Escriva had repeatedly offered his life for the Church and the Pope. Our Lord accepted this offering, and on June 26, 1975, in Rome in the room where he worked, he surrendered his soul to God with the same holy simplicity that characterized his entire life.

His body rests in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace at Viale Bruno Buozzi 75, Rome. There it is accompanied by the constant prayer and gratitude of his sons and daughters and countless others who have come closer to God through his example and teaching. His cause of canonization was introduced in Rome on February 19, 1981. Pope John Paul II, on April 9, 1990, declared that he lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree, and on July 6, 1991, decreed that a cure attributed to his intercession was miraculous. The Founder of Opus Dei was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 17, 1992, in Rome.


This is the way the world outside Opus Dei is shown Monsignor Escriva from baptism to death. I am not going to debate this profile. I am simply going to sketch a picture of Monsignor Escriva with a few strokes, using the colors available on my palette.

Monsignor Escriva was called "Father" because he determined that Opus Dei was a family. This idea is foundational to the Work and everything else rests on it. Other members of the Work are "sisters" or "brothers"; Monsignor Escriva's sister Carmen is "aunt" and his brother Santiago is "uncle." Likewise, their parents were "grandparents." The Work was a family, to be sure, the link was the Founder's family, not that of its members. To distinguish our families from the "family" of the Work, the former were called "blood families."

The way Monsignor Escriva worshipped his deceased parents bore no resemblance to the way in which Opus Dei members were allowed to treat their own families. The "grandparents" were even removed from the cemeteries where they were interred, to be buried in the house at Diego de Leon, 14, in Madrid. Monsignor Escriva told us that his mother and his siblings, Carmen and Santiago, had given everything to the Work in its foundational period, including what should have gone to Carmen and Santiago as their inheritance. I also heard Monsignor Escriva say very often that his mother and sister made the foundation of the Women's Branch possible by taking charge of the administration of the first houses of men. I have never challenged this because I do not have data to do so, although there are members of the Work who do not share the opinion; in any case, the Escrivas were generously compensated.

Before Lola Fisac, the first acknowledged Opus Dei woman numerary, there existed a small group of women, whose spiritual director was Monsignor Escriva. Except for Laura Fernandez del Amo, a strong person who comes from an old Spanish family, cultivated by Monsignor Escriva in his early days in Madrid, no one ever knew exactly what happened to them, nor who they were. This was one of a number of taboos inside Opus Dei. I once asked Carmen whether she had known them, and she said yes, and added: "They were crazy. They were all unbalanced." Carmen apparently knew about the earliest period of Opus Dei of which many numeraries were virtually ignorant.

I recall that the last time we sent a present for Santiago from Venezuela was after Carmen's death. Then word came from the central government in Rome that the Father had said that presents should no longer be given to Santiago. The order puzzled us, because no reason was given. Later we found out that the reason was that Santiago was going to get married, and the Father was very displeased by his choice. Monsignor Escriva had assigned Opus Dei priests in Spain the task of finding a fiancee for his brother among eligible female Spanish aristocrats, but Santiago was indifferent to his brother's opinion in such a personal matter. Priests of the Work in Spain counseled Monsignor Escriva, who was extremely irritated by his brother's independence; as head of the family, he ought to go to Zaragoza on Santiago's behalf to request the hand in marriage of Yoya, Santiago's fiancee. Escriva grumbled that he would only go if he were lodged at the Palace of Cogullada in the same room where Francisco Franco had stayed. Members of the Work had to spend a great deal of time negotiating this deal, but were finally successful, and Monsignor Escriva went to Zaragoza and was lodged at the Palace of Cogullada.

Relations between Monsignor Escriva and Yoya were rocky at the beginning. A supernumerary, Mercedes Jimenez de Andrade y Fernandez de Cordoba, wife of an economics professor, Javier Irastorza, was charged with advising the young woman about how to dress, what perfumes to use, "so as not to displease the Father."

Monsignor Escriva did not want his brother and sister to stay in Spain and brought them to Rome. Later, Carmen wished to return to die in Spain, but Monsignor Escriva refused. Carmen is buried in a niche in the central house in Rome. On the wall, bronze letters set in pink marble spell "CARMEN" with the date of her death. Santiago returned to Spain after his sister's death.

Santiago died at Christmas 1994. One of his sons also named after his uncle, Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, attended one of the Opus Dei schools in Madrid and became an Opus Dei numerary. Although it sounds comic, Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer left Opus Dei as a numerary. This was kept secret by Opus Dei superiors who retained the young man as an Opus Dei supernumerary. At this writing I am not sure whether or not he is still an Opus Dei supernumerary, although for some time he dated a young woman who was one. One of his sisters, who also became a numerary and was posted to Peru, left Opus Dei as well.

Numeraries could not have family photographs in their rooms, much less in the common rooms of the house where they lived. By contrast, in every house of the Work, there are photographs of the "Grandparents" and of "Aunt Carmen." The grandmother's photograph is taken from a portrait, itself based on an old photograph, in which she appeared in a simple black dress. The painter modified the photograph by adding an ermine neckpiece over the dress to make it more distinguished. I remember clearly that while I was in Rome, we were requested via the intercom from the director's office to provide "a collar of white ermine," because the painter needed it. Once the painting was complete, it was photographed, and this is the representation present in every house of the Work.

One fine day while I was in Rome in the 1950s, Monsignor Escriva said that we had to learn to make "crespillos," a dessert his mother used to make when he was a child. From then on, this dessert has been served at the main meal in the houses of the Work on the grandmother's saint's day (Our Lady of Sorrows).

From the time I met him at the end of the 1940s, Monsignor Escriva planned his road to sainthood. Convinced that he would be canonized, he had his tomb built in the central house in Rome as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He instructed the superiors: "But don't leave me here for too long. Let them take me after a while to a public church so that they will leave you alone so that you can work."

He also liked to tell us: "My daughters, if when you open my tomb, you find that I have not decayed, I will have cheated the Work. They should only find skin and bones." The move of Monsignor Escriva's remains to the church of St. Eugene -- which now has the status of an Opus Dei public church -- strikes me as a curious irony. He repeatedly remarked about that church that "it looks like a bathroom," to stress Pius XII's bad taste.

In the photographs, corpore insepulto, before his burial, Monsignor Escriva wears Eucharistic vestments, violating his own rule that we should all be prepared for burial wrapped in "a simple white sheet." The reader may recall that it was necessary to include this instruction in one's will.

All personal items that Monsignor Escriva ceased to use were kept as future relics in the central house in Rome and in the houses he visited, especially on his last trips to South America. Such items ranged from handkerchiefs or a bathrobe belt, to the little bottle of holy water, the soap he used, and even the ribbon from a box of chocolates he brought the women numeraries in one of the houses of the Work.

Now and then Monsignor Escriva would give the numeraries things he no longer used, like nail scissors, pencils, as well as his photographs with an ejaculation written on the back.

Also, during his lifetime, in houses he visited and especially in countries where his visits were infrequent, plates or cups he used were set aside. Even the flowers on the altar where Monsignor Escriva celebrated Mass would be framed, and a mark would be made on the chairs on which he had sat.

After his death and before the burial, part of his hair was cut off and distributed to different houses around the world, as were pieces of the cassocks he had worn.

Shadows and lights show up what are important for me or for persons whom I knew well. At the same time and as a backdrop, a picture of Monsignor Escriva's successor, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo takes shape.

Don Alvaro del Portillo was a witness to and cooperated in the fabrication of this devotion to the Father.

The late Alvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid March 11, 1914; incorporated into Opus Dei as a numerary in 1935, he was ordained a priest on June 25, 1944. Upon the death of Monsignor Escriva on June 26, 1975, Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo was elected the second president general of Opus Dei on September 15, 1975. When Opus Dei changed its status from secular institute to personal prelature, Alvaro del Portillo was named prelate of the prelature of the Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei by Pope John Paul II on November 28, 1982. The Pope consecrated him a bishop on January 6, 1991.

Alvaro del Portillo was close to Monsignor Escriva ever since he entered Opus Dei and they were never separated after his ordination. One of Escriva's biographers recalls that from 1940 on he prayed for his son Alvaro, with the idea that he might be his successor. [10]

With Don Alvaro del Portillo, Monsignor Escriva compensated for certain personal deficiencies so he kept Alvaro nearby in part because the latter belonged to a high social class and his family connections were important to the Work; also, he was a civil engineer, a prestigious profession, particularly in Spain at that time; but principally because he was a man of diplomatic tact and good manners, who moved with ease internationally and had command of Italian and French and a knowledge of some German and English as well. Escriva frequently described to members of the Work, as one of his biographers does, [11] the engineer's dress uniform that Alvaro del Portillo wore on June 4, 1943, when he was received by His Holiness Pius XII in a private audience along with Jose Orlandis. To be sure, his dedication to Opus Dei kept Don Alvaro from acquiring much experience in engineering. Don Alvaro del Portillo was a sensitive, courteous person, although one never knew what he really thought. Nobody in Opus Dei was sure who directed whom. Did Monsignor Escriva tell Alvaro del Portillo what he had to do? Was it Alvaro del Portillo who told Monsignor Escriva what he should not do? Only Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo knew, and he went to the grave with his customary tact. However, the relation between them was very peculiar. Monsignor Escriva did not know how to be alone. When Don Alvaro had some duty outside of the house, for instance in the Vatican, Monsignor Escriva went to the Roman College of the Holy Cross to talk to the men or sometimes even to the Villa Sacchetti, especially while the Women's Branch government offices were there.

On his journeys, Monsignor Escriva was always accompanied by Don Alvaro del Portillo, a numerary doctor who looked after his health, and his chauffeur, Armando Castro, the first Portuguese numerary. Within the Women's Branch, Don Alvaro del Portillo enjoyed respect and affection. He was invariably polite to us and knew how to say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me." Monsignor Escriva very seldom said "please," and instead of "thank you" he would say, "May God pay you."

Monsignor Escriva did not have natural good manners. He was rough, brusque, and rude. When he was angry and had someone to reproach, he had no measure of charity in his language. His offensive, violent words profoundly wounded persons. I remember vividly that when I went to the Vatican in 1973 and visited His Eminence Cardinal Arturo Tavera, then prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Religious and Secular Institutes, he asked how many years I had spent in Opus Dei, and when I told him eighteen, he commented: "And you needed eighteen years to realize how rude Jose Maria Escriva is?"

His language was frequently crude. One Easter Sunday, the numeraries of the women's central government had been told to go up to the Villa Vecchia dining room to greet the Father for Easter after his lunch. As we entered the dining room, Don Alvaro was smoking, with his usual ivory cigarette holder. Monsignor Escriva was talking through a wide-open window that overlooked the Villa garden. He was speaking to a group of numeraries from the Roman College of the Holy Cross, although we could not see them from where we were. He said with a great guffaw: "Have a brandy as I told you, but be careful, don't do what that Monsignor Galindo, my fellow countryman, did, who used to warm up the snifter in his fly" (Monsignor Pascual Galindo was the rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Madrid).

We could all hear that Don Alvaro tried to tell Escriva that we had arrived, calling: "Padre! Padre!," but he did not hear. When he realized we were there, he slammed the window shut and beamed at us piously: "My daughters, may God bless you." We were forbidden to discuss this event even among ourselves.

A former Opus Dei male numerary recalls a similar incident that took place in Pamplona, Spain, in the presence of at least fifty male numeraries. Seated in front of the group, Monsignor Escriva unbuttoned his cassock to take off a sweater (the day was warm) and remarked: "Well, I already have the behind of an abbess." Then he dressed himself again in public.

What wounded me most deeply during the last months in Rome leading up to my dismissal were not Monsignor Escriva's scoldings and violent insults but his lack of charity. He put his rank of president general and his prestige as Founder ahead of his priestly role. There was never a shadow of a doubt that I might be innocent; he passed judgment and sentence without hearing me, based on assessments of other people.

Monsignor Escriva taught that one should be "intransigent with sin, but tolerant with the sinner," but this was not what he practiced. If he heard a numerary say she felt "sorry" for someone, he would say, "Be sorry for the Work!"

He was especially harsh in his attitude toward those who left the Work. He forbad all contact with them, and he did not provide them with the slightest financial assistance, whether they left the institute or were dismissed. Monsignor Escriva was never concerned, did not even contemplate in either of the two versions of Opus Dei's Constitutions written in his lifetime, that numerary members including servants or priests should have social security for old age or sickness. Moreover, it is explicitly stated in the Constitutions that numeraries who, under any circumstances, abandon Opus Dei may not seek any compensation for the work they have done inside the institution. This injustice has led to financial problems, not only for women numeraries, but also for numerary priests who left Opus Dei. The Work not only did not help them, but in more than one case slandered them, insinuating sexual misconduct.

The Father's scoldings were famous throughout the Work. He was saintly before the multitudes, frequently calling himself a sinner, but he was capable of the most terrible insults for the slightest reason. For instance, if a fried egg was not done to his taste, he would abuse the director of the house. If an altar cloth did not hang exactly at the stipulated number of centimeters above the floor, he was capable of scolding the director; similarly, he would go into a rage if there was noise in the kitchen when the pots and pans were scrubbed. However, you could not write in the house diary, "The Father was angry or caused a row," but had to say: "The Father taught us this or that today."

One of the best descriptions of Monsignor Escriva's character was given by Alberto Moncada, who wrote that the Father "is charming, pleasant, and persuasive when one is on his side. He is intolerant, intractable, and crude when his standards are not accepted." [12]

Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo was present at all times and by never showing disagreement seemed to condone such conduct. This frightens me even more than the Founder's own fits, because it seems to reflect a cold, calculating attitude. Could Bishop Alvaro del Portillo believe that Monsignor Escriva's frequent behavior was justified because it reflected "holy anger"?

Power and high office attracted Monsignor Escriva. He claimed, "I am a descendant of a princess from Aragon," [13] and claimed that the famous sixteenth-century Aragonese physician and heretic, Miguel Servet, was an ancestor. By his express order, shields of his seven noble surnames were engraved near the main altar of the Basilica of Torreciudad in the vicinity of Barbastro, his birthplace. His residence in Spain was always listed as Diego de Leon, 14, purchased for the princely sum of six million pesetas. He conveniently forgot the more modest houses in Madrid, where he actually lived with his family, notably the house on Martinez Campos, 4, which survives with a modest bar, "Vinos El Majuelo," on the ground floor. Landing at Barajas Airport in Madrid, Monsignor Escriva would enter by the hall for "Authorities." In addition, while Jesus Romeo Gorda, connected with Opus Dei, was president of Iberia Airlines, his car awaited Monsignor Escriva at the steps of the plane.

He took care that we were frequently reminded that he was "the Founder." "In my life I have known several popes," he would say, "many cardinals, a pile of bishops, but only one Founder -- me." Then he often added: "God will demand much of you for having known me."

At one of the Men's Branch general congresses, Monsignor Escriva told Antonio Perez-Tenessa to propose that members of Opus Dei should greet the President General by genuflecting with the left knee touching the floor. The rule was quickly adopted. When Monsignor Escriva notified those of us who were superiors of the Opus Dei Women's Branch, he said: "My daughters, it is not for my sake; I know you love me very much and respect me. I am doing it for the poor soul who will follow me."

When the Estudio General de Navarra became a university, Monsignor Escriva arranged to be named grand chancellor. From then on, he began to appear before crowds in theaters and large lecture halls, which were recorded in movies and photographs.

Opus Dei directs an entity named UNIV, headquartered in Rome. Under the leadership of local Opus Dei members in any given country, UNIV organizes trips to Rome to attend a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father and also to visit the Opus Dei prelate: Monsignor Escriva when he was alive, subsequently Bishop del Portillo and presently Bishop Echevarria, the current prelate. The visit to the Opus Dei prelate is a well-staged question-and-answer period in which the questions have been carefully selected by Opus Dei group leaders, who check them out first with the prelate in order to prepare his appropriate responses, which seem spontaneous to the young people who are unaware of the well-prepared operation.

The format of previously prepared questions and answers is standard when the Opus Dei prelate appears in public. For instance, when the current Opus Dei prelate, Monsignor Echevarria, visited Brussels in October 1994, a gathering was staged in a hall at a Sheraton hotel. Since Monsignor Echevarria speaks neither French nor Flemish, an Opus Dei priest translated. To questions such as "What is the difference between Opus Dei and Christian people?" or "Why do people say that Opus Dei takes children away from their parents?" standard answers were given: "We are exactly like other people and we are interested in the same problems"; "Parents wish to live a Christian life, but do not have enough time for their children; but Opus Dei has the time to give those children a strong formation, new perspectives in life." Everything is planned beforehand.

The trips Monsignor Escriva made to different countries during the final years of his life seemed extravagant to many numerary women on account of the expense they entailed. To be sure, there was a cultic reverence for the Founder on his visits, and he considered as proof of "good spirit" that the supernumeraries chartered international flights, sent flowers for his Mass, brought organically raised chickens from villages for his meals, and had crates of oranges available in case he wanted juice, even though oranges were not in season.

An amusing anecdote may be recounted here. Monsignor Escriva was once invited to lunch at Dr. Faelli's house. They served some cheese with "little flowers on the labels." He recommended that we buy some. After tramping all over Rome to find them, I entered Allemagna in Piazza Colonna and discovered a pile of boxes of cheese, in which one portion in each box had a label with the "little flower." Delighted, I pulled out a box and the decorative pyramid came tumbling down. Since there was only one piece of cheese with the "little flower" in each box, we had to buy several boxes to serve Monsignor Escriva the cheese with the "little flower," which turned out to be an edelweiss.

During the last years of his life, I am convinced that Monsignor Escriva suffered from some psychological disorder since, otherwise, it would be totally inconceivable that a priest, with the aura of a Founder, would say things such as "If I knew that my parents had not desired me when I was conceived, I would have spit on their tomb." [14]

Again, I have heard of an occurrence (in 1962) at the home of Maria Paz Alvarez de Toledo, who was a friend and classmate in the French Dominican Sisters School in Valladolid. My absence from Madrid has kept me from obtaining confirmation, but my source is trustworthy. Apparently, Monsignor Escriva was smitten with a tapestry that the family had in its dining room. (In Opus Dei jargon this translated to "The Father likes the tapestry.") He did not hesitate to tell the Opus Dei Women's Branch superiors in Madrid to request it for the Work. Maria Paz politely and generously said that she could not give it away because it belonged to the family patrimony, but she offered a million pesetas to buy another tapestry for Monsignor Escriva.

Alvaro del Portillo was present at many of the events I have described in this book and probably at many others I don't know of, above all, in relations with the Vatican. He, like Bishop Echevarria, myself, and others who worked closely with Monsignor Escriva, all heard him express pejorative opinions about supreme pontiffs and even about Vatican II: "Pray for the next Pope, who will have to mend many things." Or again, he referred to the Jesuits either as "the little ones" (los pequenitos) or the "usual ones" (los de siempre). Monsignor Escriva was terrified -- as Alvaro del Portillo knew better than anyone else -- that Pius XII might appoint the Jesuits as official visitors to Opus Dei women's houses. Similarly, those around Escriva could see his lack of affection, to put it mildly, for the Theresians, despite having been their chaplain in Salamanca during the Spanish Civil War. Escriva never judged them to be a legitimate secular institute; one suspects that he may have been uncomfortable that their founder, Father Pedro Poveda (assassinated early in the Civil War by leftist militiamen), conceived of an apostolate suspiciously like that of Escriva's but twenty years before Escriva.

My concern for all these facts is that Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, whom I had always considered a thoughtful, fair person, should close his eyes to reality and push a cause, ignoring the harm that it might do to many Catholics as well as to many Christians from other denominations.

Bishop del Portillo, like his successor Bishop Echevarria, knew well how to manipulate the process of beatification, how slander and defamation were used in order that church tribunals reject as untrustworthy witnesses certain persons able to supply clarifying testimony.

It is painful to read the Summary of the Process for the Cause of Beatification, where each paragraph repeats references to Monsignor Escriva such as that he offered "his own life to the Lord and a most intense prayer and mortification to obtain the conversion of those persons" (who left the Work) or "he carried on with such heroic exercise of virtues that it stirred up those of us who were at his side." I always heard Monsignor Escriva repeat when someone left the Work: "... only the dry branches fall. And it is best that they fall," using the image written in The Way in reference to tribulations. [15]

Due to my concern about Monsignor Escriva's process of beatification I sent His Holiness John Paul II two letters included in Appendix C as a secret of conscience, to which I have received no reply, although they reached the hands of the Holy Father through his secretary, His Eminence Cardinal Angel Sodano. However, His Eminence Cardinal Ratzinger had the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of copies of those letters.

The following are directives which Opus Dei women numeraries received to expand the devotion to Monsignor Escriva. All such directives were known by Bishop Alvaro del Portillo.

Devotion to our Father. In filial piety and justice with the church, we all have the serious duty to continually expand private devotion to our Father. We must take advantage of the opportunities that arise to distribute numerous holy pictures and information bulletins. We must try to give them to persons in certain professions where their impact will be multiplied. Parishes and churches are an effective distribution center. In the case that a member has special relations with a pastor, there should be no difficulty in leaving a small pile of holy pictures and bulletins. (Not too many. It is preferable that they be exhausted and that more be requested.) If there is no objection, these can be left visible with other pious objects, books, and so forth, which are sometimes in churches or in parish centers. We should not distribute them ourselves at the church entrance. Remember that it is important to obtain donations for the expenses involved in printing the bulletins and holy pictures. The thanks for a favor received, the resolution to support a petition with the sacrifice of alms, penance, or in general, the desire to help the spread of this private devotion, which does so much good to many, many souls, can be motives to stimulate generosity, whether in the form of large or small contributions.


During his lifetime, Monsignor Escriva started to plan for the third Opus Dei generation, or to be more precise, to train "the third Father." For this reason he seems to have chosen two young numeraries, Javier Echevarria and Antonio Ugalde. Both accompanied him on many of his trips, completed their theological studies, and were ordained priests at the same time. However, long before Antonio Ugalde, currently a distinguished sociology professor in the United States, left Opus Dei and then obtained secularization from the Holy See, Javier Echevarria had clearly been designated heir apparent.

The Most Reverend Alvaro del Portillo died on March 23, 1994, and Monsignor Javier Echevarria was duly elected Opus Dei prelate on April 21, 1994, less than a month later. Javier Echevarria was born in Madrid on June 14, 1932. He entered Opus Dei in September 1948 at age sixteen. Two years later he was sent to the central house in Rome. Unfortunately, Javier Echevarria never had the opportunity to act on his own; he always formed part of a trio accompanying Monsignor Escriva and Monsignor del Portillo on their trips around the world. His main mission on such trips was to supervise and demand perfection in all material preparations for Monsignor Escriva and Don Alvaro del Portillo.

Javier Echevarria, or "Javi" as Monsignor Escriva called him, was close to the Founder, first as his secretary, later on as one of his custodes. He completed his priestly and secular studies in Rome in a somewhat peculiar fashion: according to a colleague of his, from 1951 to 1953, he finished two years of philosophy and four of theology, plus a doctorate in canon law at the Angelicum (now Pontifical University of St. Thomas), but no studies of law took place in Rome until 1953. He was ordained a priest on August 7, 1955. In the official biography by Opus Dei, Monsignor Escriva appointed Javier Echevarria in 1953 as his secretary. Opus Dei also says that Echevarria holds a doctorate in civil law from the Lateran University in Rome, but it is not clear when Bishop Echevarria studied civil law nor when he obtained this doctorate. Opus Dei requires that to be ordained a person must not only have finished such studies but also to have had professional experience; Echevarria had none and may have been ordained before completing his doctorate. In regard to the Opus Dei administration, he managed to get any rescript or norm that originated in Rome transmitted to regional vicars in the shortest time.

Outside Opus Dei Echevarria is unknown. His philosophical and theological writings are nonexistent, as are his publications on civil law. It is impossible to imagine Bishop Echevarria giving a public lecture on theology or law at Harvard University or any of the campuses of the University of California, where one is challenged in a question period. For somewhat different reasons, it is also difficult to imagine him giving a talk on freedom or on human rights to some world organization.

So far my brush strokes sketch the portrait of these very different men united in the exercise of power. Lamentably, that power is covered by the mantle of the church and is exercised over Opus Dei members, who, with the noblest intentions, desire to grow close to God. To this end these people leave the good things God provided for them in this life on the altar of Opus Dei. Their north star and guide has been Monsignor Escriva. Alvaro del Portillo continued that path and did not hesitate to show those he guided a mirage of sanctity.

With his lack of charisma, Bishop Echevarria assumes now the gigantic task of living the letter of Opus Dei to the hilt in order to conserve its spirit. So I would like to add a plea to Bishop Echevarria that I made in the Spanish edition of this book in anticipation of his prelature: Please God, may he reflect on his basic errors and help him take a new path toward love rather than power; to be more charitable, more Christian, and more Catholic.

_______________

Notes:

1. Luis Carandell, Vida y milagros de Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer, fundador del Opus Dei (Barcelona: Laia, 1975), pp. 79-80.

2. Ibid., p. 80.

3. Monsignor Escriva liked to say that he had been superior of the Seminary before being ordained, and so Vazquez de Prada calls him in El Fundador del Opus Dei, pp. 82 and 548. However, "superior" is quite misleading, and Vazquez de Prada hedges (as Monsignor Escriva did not) by adding that the position was called "inspector" and that there were two senior seminarians each year who were inspectors.

4. Here the English-speaking numerary who composed the biographical blurb for Escriva erroneously transcribes what we were all given to understand, namely, that Escriva was never a professor at two universities. Vazquez de Prada (El fundador del Opus Dei, pp. 19, 101, and 107) says that Escriva taught at the Instituto Amado in Zaragoza and the Academia Cicuendez in Madrid. Such schools were tutoring services to help students cram for examinations, particularly entrance examinations for universities or technical schools.

5. No one knows of this publication. Since neither a publisher nor a periodical is mentioned, it is not clear whether it was just a manuscript, if indeed it existed. Since Opus Dei is no longer a secular institute, it is not mentioned by Vazquez de Prada.

6. Vazquez de Prada, El fundador del Opus Dei, p. 249.

7. See Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1947, 39, and de Fuenmayor et al., El itinerario juridico del Opus Dei, p. 538, Appendix 25.

8. Ministerio de Justicia, Grandezas y Titulos del Reino (Madrid: Centro de Publicaciones, 1967-1969). p. 341.

9. The Venerable Servant of God, Josemaria Escriva: Founder of Opus Dei: Bulletin on the Life of Monsignor Escriva, no. 8 (New York: Office of Vice Postulation of Opus Dei in the United States, n.d.), p. 2. With slight variations, this same text is printed on back of the widely distributed holy picture with Monsignor's picture.

10. Vazquez de Prada, El fundador del Opus Dei, p. 263.

11. Ibid., p. 234.

12. Alberto Moncada, El Opus Dei, p. 126.

13. In Cronica, internal publication of Opus Dei Men's Branch, according to a former numerary.

14. Maite Sanchez Ocana told me this story in Madrid. She heard it from a numerary priest who arrived from Rome in 1967 and had been present himself when Monsignor Escriva made the remark.

15. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, no. 685.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:41 am

11. SILENCES

Sincerity, "savage sincerity," is the constant watchword repeated to Opus Dei members, the "faithful of the prelature," as they are now called. One must speak, open up, in the fraternal chat, formerly called the confidence, in confession, and in the weekly talk with an Opus Dei priest. "In order for the mute devil not to take control of our soul, it is necessary to live sincerity." "When something happens that you would not wish to be known, say it immediately -- in a hurry -- to the Good Shepherd," Monsignor Escriva used to say.

Opus Dei's indoctrination of its members gives pride of place to sincerity. Sincerity is mentioned in season and out of season in Opus Dei. Its members hear unceasingly that sincerity is the cure for all evils. When I came to Opus Dei, I believed in the authenticity of that healthy, useful attitude.

Unhappily, Opus Dei fails to say many things and misrepresents others. This is a major source of the great disillusionment that sweeps over a person when the blindfold of fanaticism slips off. In Opus Dei the truth is constantly silenced. On the one hand, the member of the Work is urged to bare herself spiritually to her director or the priest. On the other, that same director is capable with holy astuteness of silencing the real motive of any of the directives that she imparts to the member.

Without any intentional bad will on the part of superiors, this Opus Dei emphasis on discretion creates a false air of mystery: people coming from other countries to the central house are not announced; nobody is informed when a member is leaving for a different country. Sooner or later, one finds out through chance meetings on the stairs or in the oratory. The ordinary members' lack of information increases the power of the directors, who feel powerful because they know what all the rest do not. Sadly, this sort of practice is familiar to citizens of totalitarian countries.

The most significant area of silence in Opus Dei was that surrounding Monsignor Escriva. From the most trivial to the most important, many details were hushed up. Numeraries and servants who cleaned his rooms could not mention, even among themselves, that Monsignor Escriva often took a bath instead of a shower as the rest of the members did; they had been carefully instructed not to discuss what they learned while working at the administered house.

One day he almost died. I knew that only because in the afternoon of the crisis, he came with Don Alvaro to the office of the central advisory and told us: "This son of mine, Alvaro, saved my life with his great presence of mind." The rest of the house, more than a hundred members, knew nothing until many months later; except, of course, Rosalia Lopez, who as the maid, was present at the scene.

It was not openly acknowledged that Monsignor Escriva had diabetes. When he fell into a coma, Don Alvaro immediately realized what was wrong. He forced open his mouth and practically poured down the sugar bowl placed on the table, sprinkling it with water to make it easier to swallow. Meanwhile, he urgently sent Rosalia to the kitchen for more sugar and to call the Father's numerary physician, who also lived in Villa Vecchia.

I learned that those who were in the kitchen -- and did not know what was happening -- were going to give Rosalia another sugar bowl in response to her abrupt demand for "sugar for the Father." She snatched the big can out of the hands of the person in charge of the kitchen and returned to the dining room on the run. This happened on April 27, 1954.

The Founder's childhood friends were never mentioned in Opus Dei. Did he have any? Isidoro Zorzano is the only boyhood friend, specifically from secondary school, known as such through the early biography by Daniel Sargent. [1] Zorzano's process of beatification was opened in Madrid, October 11, 1948, with a proclamation posted on the cathedral door announcing: "Cause of beatification and canonization of the servant of God, Isidoro Zorzano Ledesma, of the secular institute Opus Dei." Those of us who were members of the Work during the following decades were encouraged to pray to him as a model of sanctification of everyday life. Why has Opus Dei silenced this process? Is it because Opus Dei is now a prelature, while Zorzano became a saint when it was a secular institute? Opus Dei has similarly silenced the process of Monsita Grasses, while pushing forward with Monsignor Escriva's process.

Many things and many individuals are silenced in Opus Dei. They disappear in silence. Those who left Opus Dei, those who committed suicide or tried to, those who became insane are never mentioned.

Even greater care is taken not to mention priests who leave Opus Dei. Opus Dei silences them all. Many of them continue in the priesthood. Others seek secularization, and receive dispensations from the Holy See, and marry in the Catholic church. I found out about some cases when I was still in Opus Dei. I remember that when I learned of one case by chance, I called the counselor to the confessional and asked him if what I had been told was true. He confirmed the rumor I had heard outside, but recommended that "I say nothing," although the situation was whispered about all over Caracas.

Opus Dei silences the truth. To squelch discussion inside the Work about the many people who quit the institution, the superiors -- perhaps without reflecting on the consequences that their statements might have -- have said that those individuals were "sick" in some cases, or "insane" in others; they never try to offer a straightforward explanation as to why they have left.

For me, the worst silences are those that hinder personal freedom. Opus Dei shows admirable zeal in trying to preserve vocations that have been a decade or more in its ranks. Its practice belies the slogan that is repeated when one joins: "The door to Opus Dei is only open a crack to come in but wide open to leave." Perhaps without realizing the danger of its strategy, Opus Dei silences persons, intimidates, even blackmails, deliberately creating a sense of guilt which leads some former members in turn to keep silence about their membership in Opus Dei. There have been those who have suffered some misfortune after they left Opus Dei and considered it God's punishment for having left. I remember only too well the case of the daughter of a friend who tormented herself for a long time with this notion.

Opus Dei's cold silence toward those who leave provokes contradictory reactions. In their resentment toward the association, some also leave the church. Others remain within the church, but their acquaintance with Opus Dei makes them regard it as a sect which has managed to lodge itself within Catholicism. But almost all former members of Opus Dei, even if they never met while they belonged to the Work, agree publicly that Opus Dei silences the truth.

None of this is meant to deny that there are not only good people but excellent human beings inside Opus Dei. Some are still blinded by their own good faith and credulity. Others, who have privileged information, do not dare to say what they think out loud for fear of being silenced by Opus Dei. A range of circumstances could be described which retain such individuals within Opus Dei. For example, one is the age of many women over fifty, including professional women, who have not exercised their profession for many years. Even if they are not in agreement with major aspects of the Opus Dei and have suffered its penalties and harassment personally, they would not know where to go if they left Opus Dei at their stage in life. It is not easy to begin a life outside especially when one carries the burden of the years spent in Opus Dei. Thus, they let their life slip by in silence, on behalf of a cause of which they are no longer convinced in conscience.

Then there are numerary priests whom Opus Dei silences when they have tried to exercise genuine charity as the church demands rather than as Opus Dei commands. Such priests have defended just causes with great integrity and energy, even at the risk of being silenced.

Opus Dei takes pains to warn them and to convince them that failure to persevere in the association is equivalent to leaving the church. They are blackmailed with the argument that if they leave Opus Dei they might end up in concubinage. It requires heroic courage for a numerary priest over fifty to leave Opus Dei. The change from the comfortable, sheltered life of Opus Dei houses to the poverty and hardship of a poor parish is very great. Accordingly, some priests accept the rules of the game, become silent, and spend their lives in inner conflict, a situation which has led to more than one case of alcoholism among male numeraries.

Some years back after I had ceased to belong to Opus Dei, I encountered a paradigmatic case of a "silenced" Opus Dei priest. He acknowledged that Opus Dei was a harmful organization but felt he could not abandon it, because he had "given his word and had to keep it." I suggested to him that he speak to the bishop of the diocese where he lived and place himself under the latter's authority, continuing as a priest but outside Opus Dei. I was shaken by some of his responses: "I would not have been a priest because it never occurred to me to be a priest before entering the Work. I was ordained as a priest of the Work. ... As an Opus Dei priest, I have nothing to do with the activities of the church that have not been assigned me by Opus Dei superiors. If the children in Vallecas [a proverbially poor Madrid neighborhood] have runny noses, let their parish priest wipe their noses. I have nothing to do with that, and it doesn't interest me. If a woman has a problem, let her go to whomever she needs. It doesn't affect me as an Opus Dei priest. I'm not going to worry about it.... I have been ordained to serve my brothers in the Work, nothing else, nobody else. At least until the Opus Dei superiors tell me otherwise."

This doctrine that Opus Dei priests serve the prelature rather than the church is not news to me. I have heard Monsignor Escriva express himself on the matter on several occasions, saying that "Opus Dei numeraries are ordained to serve their brothers." Of course, this is never said overtly to church authorities; rather the contrary is proclaimed.

Opus Dei claims the right to silence those members who waver in their vocation, taking their freedom away, isolating them, forcing them to submit as slaves for whatever period the supervisors deem "medicinal." They are deprived of their freedom, isolated, held incommunicado.

Why do men and women who left Opus Dei fear to tell the truth of what they saw, heard, and often suffered? As can be learned from my own case, many, understandably, fear reprisals and prefer to put painful memories behind them as they try to rebuild their lives. Some married people fear that their children might suffer abuse from Opus Dei and remain silent about their years in the institution. They may even beg that their name not be mentioned publicly because "members of their family who belong to Opus Dei would completely avoid them."

Opus Dei silences critical minds. Monsignor Escriva used to say, "I don't want great brains in the Work, because they turn into swelled heads. Average intelligences, if they are docile and faithful, are very effective."

An engineer, banker, or scientist tends to have fewer problems with superiors in the Work than humanists, philosophers, or theologians, who are almost always frustrated within the Work. As soon as someone -- who may even be a priest -- is outstanding in the field of philosophy or theology, Opus Dei will almost certainly end by silencing him. He disappears. Opus Dei hides him. He frequently ends up by leaving the institution or becomes the patient of a psychiatrist. Opus Dei does not let you think nor engage in speculation. There is an "internal censorship" that reviews articles, books, lectures, or anything that a member wants to publish. Youngsters with "good spirit," mostly incompetent in academic disciplines, dare to suggest corrections and bring them to the attention of superiors. The proof is that outside Opus Dei institutions there are no Opus Dei philosophers or theologians particularly well known and respected for their work at other institutions besides the University of Navarra. Jurists can acquire some importance within the prelature but philosophers and theologians have no place. This is publicly recognized. I say nothing new but observe a fact.

I speak about what I know, because to my shame I must confess that I, too, used the weapon of silence within Opus Dei, accepting and participating in the game of discretion. It was difficult for me to swallow the rules of discretion, but I did so conscientiously, learning how to dish out the truth in small doses, or more precisely, how to keep it hidden or even make it disappear. This lasted a long time, proof of my having acquired "good spirit" in Opus Dei.

Years later, life in Venezuela freed me, it brought back my real self, and helped overcome my fanaticism. My experience there aroused my conscience, reminding me first to look to God and to consider everything else secondary.

As I said in the Introduction, I judge it my responsibility before God and humanity to unmask Opus Dei, even if I have had to undertake the sometimes tedious task of describing in detail life inside women's houses. For that, I have no other method than to follow the thread of my personal experiences.

Therefore, even at the risk of being destroyed by Opus Dei, I refused to be "silenced" by them at this stage of my life, because I believe in spiritual freedom and in the defense of human rights.

Ese cielo tan rosado
es que el dia esta rompiendo.
Esta fiesta se ha acabado:
Cantaclaro se esta yendo. [2]

That sky turning pink
shows day is breaking through.
The fair came to its end:
Cantaclaro fades away.


_______________

Notes:

1. Daniel Sargent, God's Engineer (Chicago: Scepter, 1954), pp. 32 ff. Sargent describes Opus Dei as a secular institute. Opus Dei eventually "silenced" this book in its houses.

2. Romulo Gallegos, "Cantaclaro," Obras Campletas, Tome I (Madrid: Aguilar, 1976), p. 996.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:43 am

APPENDIX A: CORRESPONDENCE TO OBTAIN MY CERTIFICATE OF STUDIES

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

INTERNATIONAL CENTER, FOREIGN STUDENT OFFICE
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106

March 1, 1973
AIRMAIL

The Rt. Rev. Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva
President General
Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis et Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma, ITALY

Re: Scholastic transcripts of Maria del Carmen Tapia

Most Reverend Sir:

This is to request an official transcript of the studies Maria del Carment Tapia completed at the Collegium Romanum Sanctae Mariae, Regionis Venezuela, at Caracas, Venezuela, during the period from 1960 through 1965.

It would be most helpful, if this is possible, to have the courses listed by Title and the unit value, as well as the grade. It is my understanding that the studies in Philosophy were completed and the first year of Theology started.

This would enable us to evaluate the credit in comparison to our own curriculum.

It would be very much appreciated if we could receive this record at your earliest convenience and if the transcript is directed to this office with a statement of any cost involved, an international money order will be dispatched by return mail.

Very sincerely,
K. M. Mathew
Dean of Foreign Students

KMM:mje
SECOND COPY
cc: United States Embassy
Roma, Italy

____________________________________________________________

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

INTERNATIONAL CENTER, FOREIGN STUDENT OFFICE
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106

May 10, 1973
AIR MAIL REGISTERED
CERTIFIED RECEIPT REQUESTED

The Rt. Rev. Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva
President General
Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis et Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma, ITALY

Most Reverend Sir:

On March 1, 1973, the Dean of Foreign Students on this University campus airmailed a letter of inquiry to you on behalf of Maria del Carmen Tapia. Since more than two months have elapsed without reply and the letter was not registered, we are assuming that there was some difficulty in delivery and perhaps the letter did not reach you. I am therefore taking the liberty of forwarding the same letter to you again.

If I have directed this request to your Grace in error, may I ask that you kindly refer to the proper authority? It is not possible to evaluate prior credits without some authorized records from previous institutions attended.

If, on the other hand, the cost of transcripts or postage may delay this transmittal, please be assured that immediate notification of any charges will receive our attention by return post.

Your kindness will be most appreciated.
Very sincerely
Mrs. Muriel d. Engle
Administrative Assistant

MJE:
enclosure

cc: U.S. Embassy
Roma, Italy

____________________________________________________________

Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis Procurator Generalis

May 29, 1973

Mrs. Muriel J. Engle
University of California,
International Center -Foreign Student Office,
Santa Barbara, California 93106,
U.S.A.

Dear Mrs. Engle,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 10, 1973 addressed to our President, and to inform you on his behalf, and in my capacity as Procurator General, that Miss Carmen Tapia did not follow, in this institution, any courses in Philosophy or Theology.

Yours Sincerely.
Rev. Daniel Cummings

____________________________________________________________

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

INTERNATIONAL CENTER, FOREIGN STUDENT OFFICE
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106

June 25, 1973
AIR MAIL
REGISTERED
Return Receipt Requested

The Rev. Consiliario del Opus Dei
in Venezuela
c/o Excmo. Y. Revmo. Monsignor Nuncio
Apostolico de S.S. en Venezuela
Nunciatura Apostolica
Caracas. Venezuela

Dear Sir:

It is our understanding that Maria del Carmen Tapia was a member of your institution, living in Caracas, during the period from October 1956, until October 1965.

We would appreciate receipt of a transcript of any studies that she performed during this period. It would be helpful to have the courses listed by Title, and the unit value, as well as the grade. This would enable us to evaluate the credit in comparison to our own curriculum.

It would also be appreciated if we could receive this record at your earliest convenience and it the transcript is directed to this office with a statement of any cost involved, an international. money order will be dispatched to you by return mail.

Thank you kindly for your assistance.

Very sincerely yours,
K. M.. Mathew
Dean of Foreign Students

KMM:mje
cc: Embassy of the United States
Caracas, Venezuela

____________________________________________________________

Sociedad Sacerdotal de la Santa Cruse El Consilario

Caracas, 7 de Agosto de 1973

Mr. K.M. Mathew
Dean of Foreing Students
University of California
International Center-Foreing Student Office
Santa Barbara. California 93106. U.S.A.

Distinguido Senor:

Acuso recibo de su atenta carta de fecha 25 de Junio de 1973, en relacion al conte nido de la cual le informo que la Srta. Carmen Ta pia no ha cursado estudios en esta Institucion.

Atentamente, queda de Ud. afmo.
Fdo.: Roberto Salvat Romero

____________________________________________________________

Translation of letter on previous page.

Priestly Society of the Holy Cross
The Counselor

Caracas, August 7, 1973

Mr. K.M. Mathew
Dean of Foreing [sic] Students
University of California
International Center-Foreing [sic] Student Offices
Santa Barbara, California 93106 USA

Dear Sir:

I have received your letter of June 25, 1973. In regard to your inquiry, I can inform you that Miss Carmen Tapia has not done any studies in this Institution.

Yours truly,

Signed: Roberto Salvat Romero

[Original has UCSB Dean of Foreign Students date stamp of August 14, 1973]

____________________________________________________________

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106

November 29, 1973

William K. Braun Esq.
Attache Cultural
Embassy of the United States
Via Vittorio Veneto, 119
00187 Roma (Italy)

Dear Sir:

I would like to inform you that Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia, personal research assistant to Professor Raimundo Panikkar (formerly Professor at Harvard University and now a professor in our Department of Religious Studies) will be in Roma, January the 1st until January the 6th. attending the Philosophical Colloquium organised by Professor E. Castelll. Miss Tapia will leave Roma for this country on January the 7th.

Miss Tapia is a Venezuelan citizen and as a permanent resident of our country holds the green card.

For personal reasons which we have discussed, Miss Tapia would like to speak with you and, on her behalf, I am requesting an appointment to be held at your convenience.

Since Miss Tapia will leave for vacation the 6th of December, there will not be sufficient time for an answer to arrive before her departure. Therefore, I ask that you please send a note to her c/o Dra. Enrichetta Valenzioni, Via Lagrange, 1. Parioli. 00197 Roma.

Miss Tapia will call you upon her arrival to Roma, January 1st.

I would be most grateful for any kind of assistance that you can give to her.

Sincerely yours,

Gerald J. Larson
Chairman

GJL/mct

____________________________________________________________

EMBASSY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Rome, Italy

January 29, 1974

Professor Gerald J. Larson
Chairman
Department of Religious Studies
University of California
Santa Barbara, California 93106

Dear Professor Larson:

I am attaching a copy of my letter of January 16 to the Reverend Daniel Cummings and a photocopy at his reply dated January 24. The subject at this correspondence is the record of studies done by Maria del Carmen Tapia, but you will see from Father Cummings' reply that my inquiry bas been unsuccessful.

I am sorry that I have been unable to obtain anything more helpful.

Sincerely,

William K. Braun
Cultural Attache'

Encl.: As stated

____________________________________________________________

Rome, January 16, 1974

Rev. Daniel Cummings
Procurator General
Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis
Viale Bruno Buozzi 73
00197 Rome

Dear Father Cummings:

I am writing in response to a request for Professor Gerald J. Larson, Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

Professor Larson and the Universityof California would like very much to receive a transcript or a record of the studies completed by a Maria del Carmen Tapia at the Collegium Romanum Sanctae Marice, Regionis Venezuela, at Caracas, Venezuela, during the period from 1960 through 1965.

I am not, of course, familiar with the problem of obtaining these transcripts, but as I understand it difficulties might have arisen because (as the University of California has been told) Miss Tapia's records are no longer in Caracas but in Rome. I am told that previous inquiries both in Caracas and in Rome have resulted in the information that Miss Tapi was not enrolled at either institutions but that, now that her records are apparently here, your office might have the necessary information.

Professor Larson would greatly appreciate any help you can provide. I shall of course be happy to be of any assistance I can.

Sincerely,

William K. Braun
Cultural Attache'

WKBraun:gb

____________________________________________________________

REV. DANIEL CUMMINGS

Januarv 24, 1974.

William K. Braun, Esq.,
Cultural Attache',
Embassy of the United States
of America,
Rome.

Dear Sir,

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 16 last, and to inform you that neither here nor in Venezuela have we any records of the person in question having completed courses of studies.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Daniel Cummings

____________________________________________________________

On January 3, 1974, I sent a letter to the Vatican addressed to His Eminence the Reverend Cardinal Arturo Tavera, at that time prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. In the first place, I expressed my thanks for his kind and warm hospitality, and then I related to him in detail my life while in Opus Dei, particularly the steps I had taken to obtain my certificate of studies.

-- Maria del Carmen Tapia

____________________________________________________________

SACRA CONGREGATIO
PRO RELIGIOSIS
ET INSTITUTIS SAECULARIBUS

Prot. n. I.S. 901/74

Roma, 26 de febrero de 1974.

Distinguida Senorita:

En relacion a su escrito del 3 de enero pp. han sido interrogados los Responsables del Instituto que nos han enviado la siguiente respuesta.

"Los estudios de filosofla y de teologia en el Opus Dei so- lo adquieren efectivo valor academico, tanto internamente como externamente (efectos publicos), y por tanto solo pueden ser garantizados por la Institucion, cuando son, caso por caso, revalidados.

La frase de la carta del Procurador General, de fecha 29. V. 1973, can la que confirma que "Miss Carmen Tapia did not follow, in this Institution, any course in Philosophy or Theology", tiene precisamente ese sentido: mientras no se cursa y se supera la revalida, no llevamos constancia oficial de los estudios o de los cursos previos y, por lo tanto, resulta imposible extender ningun certificado: es como si no los hubiera hecho.

La senorita Maria del Carmen Tapia no ha cumplido ese requisito. Como ya se ha hecho constar a los diversos organismos ante los que ha acudido la mencionada senorita, ni en Venezuela ni en Rama hay documenta alguno que acredite que esa persona haya obtenido la revalida de ningun tipo de estudios: en consecuencia, no es posible expedir ningun certificado al respecto.

Lo dicho en el primer parrafo de esta nota lo conocen todos los socios y las asociadas del Opus Dei. Por eso, ninguno ha pedide jamas en tantos-anos, una certificacion de estudios si no ha hecho previamente la revalida. El caso de la senorita Tapia es e1 primero que se nos presenta."

Con el testimonio de mi consideracion queda de Vd. atentamente en Xto.

J. B. Verdeli
Subsecretario

Srta. Maria del Carmen Tapia
900-B, Hot Springs Road
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. 93108
U.S.A.

____________________________________________________________

Translation of letter on the previous page.

Rome, February 26, 1974

Sacred Congregation for
Religious and Secular Institutes

Dear Miss Tapia:

In regard to your letter of the past January 3, upon being questioned, the authorities of the Institute have sent us the following answer.

"The studies of philosophy and theology in Opus Dei only obtain effective academic recognition, both internally and externally (public effects), and accordingly can only be certified by the Institution when they are revalidated on a case-by- case basis.

"The Procurator General's expression in the letter of May 29, 1973, in which he affirms that 'Miss Carmen Tapia did not follow in the Institution, any course in Philosophy or Theology,' has exactly this sense. So long as the revalidation is not taken and passed, we do not maintain official notice of the previous studies and courses and accordingly, it is impossible to grant any certificate. It is as if she had not done them.

Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia has not fulfilled that requirement. As has already been made known to different organizations to which the cited person has appealed, there is no document in Venezuela, or Rome which accredits that such a person has obtained the revalidation of any type of studies. Consequently, it is not possible to issue any certificate.

"What is stated in the first paragraph of this note is known to every male and female member of Opus Dei. Therefore, in all these years no one has ever requested a certificate of studies, if he has not previously done the revalidation. Miss Tapia's case is the first that has occurred."

Please receive the expression of my esteem. Yours in Christ,

G.B. Verdelli, Subsecretary

1. Translator's note: The Spanish revalida and revalidado have no exact English equivalent. In centralized national educational systems, programs given in private institutions sometimes have to be validated by an examination given or supervised by public officials.

____________________________________________________________

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106

March 25, 1974

The Rt. Reverend Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva
President General
Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis et Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italy)

Reverend Sir,

I asked Dr. K.M. Mathew, Dean of the Foreign Students Office of this University to write to you in your capacity of President General for the evaluation of the studies that Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia performed in your Association during her stay in Caracas, Venezuela from 1956 till 1965. Dean Mathew wrote to you on March 1st, 1973, but he never received any answer.

1.- On May 10, 1973, Mrs. Muriel J. Engle, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Foreign Students Office, wrote to you. She included a copy of the above mentioned letter thinking that the original had been lost in the mail.

2.- Mrs. Engle received from Rev. Daniel Cummings a letter dated May 29, 1973, on your behalf, and in his capacity as Procurator General of the Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis et Opus Dei, that "Miss Carmen Tapia did not follow any courses in Philosophy or Theology in your institution.

3.- On June 25, 1973, Dr. Mathew, the Dean of the Foreign Students Office, wrote to the Consiliario of the Opus Dei in Venezuela, Roberto Salvat Romero (who, as I understand had been Miss Tapia's Professor in two disciplines of Philosophy: Introduccion a la Filosofia and Etica. Dr. Mathew wrote on my behalf asking for information regarding any kind of studies that Miss Maria del Carmen pursued during her stay in Venezuela.

4.- Dr. Roberto Salvat Romero answered in a letter dated from Caracas, August 7, 1973. that "la Srta. Carmen Tapia no ha cursado estudios en esta Institucion."

5.- On January 16, 1974, and on my behalf, William K. Braun, Cultural Attache' to the Embassy of the United States in Roma wrote to Rev. Daniel Cummings (in his capacity as Procurator General of Societas Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis and Opus Dei) also requesting information regarding the studies that Miss Tapia had performed in your Institution during her stay 1n Venezuela.

6.- Mr. W.K. Braun replied to me on January 24, 1974, including as well a copy of the letter from Rev. Cummings to him. In this letter, Rev. Cummings stated that "neither here (Rome) nor in Venezuela, have we any records of the person in question having completed courses of studies."

7.- I must say that I am baffled with the information received from the Opus Dei since it does not tally with what Dr. Salvat told the Apostolic Nuntius in Caracas (that the records of Miss Tapia were in Rome) and in no way seemed to deny that Miss Tapia had, in fact, studied in Caracas. Further, we also have information here that present members of the Opus Dei in Venezuela have confirmed that Miss Tapia studied in your Institution.

8.- Allow me to explain: Indeed I am aware that those "Estudios Internos" have no academic validity as Miss Sofia Pilo mentioned in Caracas. However, this is not my present concern. What I need, Monsignor Escriva, is to know all the philosophy and theology courses, one by one, that Miss Tapia studied in your Institution, as well as the grades she received in each of these philosophy and theology courses, even if they do not have academic validity, or have not been revalidated.

9.- I need this information in order to confirm what is already on file in this University as well as what is at the Office of Immigration and Naturalization which keeps the official records of Miss Tapia.

10.- I would also appreciate receiving your confirmation on the following confidential points. Whether Miss Tapia

a) from 1949 until May 1966 was a member of the Feminine Branch of the Opus Dei,

b) stayed in Spain until April 1952;

c) was in Rome from April 1952 until September 1956;

d) was during the first time of her stay in Rome helping you on Secretarial matters concerning the Feminine Branch of the Opus Dei,

e) afterwards she was a 'Major Superior' in your Institution,

f) was named "Directora Regional de Venezuela" in September, 1956 leaving for Caracas, where she arrived in October 1956;

g) was "Directora Regional de Venezuela" from October 1956 until October 1965 when she was required to go to Rome;

h) living in Roma, Via di Villa Sacchetti, 36 from October 1965 until May 1966 when she returned to Spain.

11.- I would like to make very clear Monsignor Escriva, that I am interested to receive all information concerning the time Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia belonged to the Opus Dei as well as that specifically related with her studies.

What I am not requesting -- and much less interested -- is in receiving personal or confidential information regarding the spiritual life of Miss Tapia during her stay in the Opus Dei.

I would appreciate, Monsignor, your attention on these matters as well as for your earliest answer.

Looking forward to receiving a detailed information of my request, I remain

Truly yours,

Gerald J. Larson
Chairman

P.S. Since I am requesting clarification of all information we have received, a copy of this letter will be sent to the persons we consider pertinent in order to prevent any kind of misunderstanding.

____________________________________________________________

REV. DANIEL CUMMINGS

April 15, 1974.

Gerald J. Larson, Esq.,
Chairman,
Dept. of Religious Studies,
University of California,
Santa Barbara, California 93106,
U.S.A.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of March 25 last has just come to hand, and I am writing immediately to confirm what I communicated clearly and punctually to Mr. Braun, who wrote to me on your behalf. As requested, I gave you in that letter the answer pertinent to your question; the only possible answer, because there is no other one. There is, therefore, nothing further that I can now add.

I fail to understand the motive, and purpose, of the other questions which you ask in regard to points which have no bearing on academic matters, and which are not relevant either to the carrying out of a person's professional work. Perhaps you think otherwise, and I respect your opinion, while I trust that you also will respect my point of view. I wish to make it very clear that I am not referring to confidential information of any kind: I refer to the non-academic matters you bring up,

Yours truly,

Rev. Daniel Cummings

P.S. I see no objection to your sending copies of your letter to whoever you wish.

____________________________________________________________

U.S. INFORMATION SERVICE

EMBASSY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Caracas, Venezuela

April 17, 1974

Miss Marla del Carmen Tapia
Assistant to Professor Panikkar
Department of Religious Studies
University of California
Santa Barbara, California 93106
U.S.A.

Dear Miss Tapia:

Thank you for your letter of February 15, which arrived here only today, such are the vagaries and vicissitudes of the international mail.

I did write to Dr. Roberto Salvat and I received a letter from him in which he states that there was no record of your having made the studies you described. I thought I had sent a copy of this letter on to you and Professor Larson, but I am mistaken, as a search of the file indicates. Enclosed is a copy of Dr. Salvat's reply.

Please be sure of my good wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Edward J . Joyce
Cultural Affairs Officer

End.: As stated

____________________________________________________________

ROBERTO SALVAT ROMERO
Apartado 50707
Caracas

Caracas, 24 de enero, 1974

Dr. Edward J. Joyce
Agregado Cultural de la
Embajada de Estados Unidos de America
Caracas.

Estimado Dr. Joyce:

Acuso recibo de su atenta carta del 14 del pasado mes de diciembre, que he encontrado a mi regreso a Caracas.

En relacion a su contenido, debo manifestarle que no hay ninguna constancia de que la Srta. Tapia haya seguido cur sos de Estudios Religiosos en esta Institucion.

Con los mejores deseos para este nuevo ano, Il saluda muy atentamente

Roberto Salvat Romero

P/D: Me consta que, con fecha 29 mayo 1973, ya fue enviada a esa Universidad, desde Roma, esta misma comunicacion.

____________________________________________________________

Translation of letter on the previous page.

Roberto Salvat Romero
Apartado 50707
Caracas

Caracas, January 24, 1974

Dr. Edward J. Joyce
Cultural Attache of the United States Embassy
Caracas

Dear Dr. Joyce:

I am in receipt of your letter of the past December 14, which I found upon my return to Caracas.

In regard to your request, I must explain that there is no record that Miss Tapia has taken courses of religious studies in this Institution.

With my best wishes for the new year, I am

Yours truly,

Signed: Roberto Salvat Romero

PS. I am informed that on May 29, 1992, that University received this same reply from Rome.

____________________________________________________________

Translation

Certification of Faustino Castro Gete at the request of Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia _______________

Faustino Castro Gete, of Spanish nationality, 48 years of age, by profession lawyer, entered Opus Dei as a numerary member in 1950 and was ordained a priest in Madrid in 1955. He remained a numerary priest of Opus Dei until 1968, when he ceased to belong to that Institution and was incardinated in the dioceses of Talanpantla, Mexico. _______________

At the request of Miss Maria del Carmen Tapia, I Faustino Castro Gete, manifest and declare that _______________

1. The numerary women of Opus Dei (excepting the auxiliary numeraries) complete studies of philosophy and theology in courses generally taught by numerary priests or by specialists in the corresponding subjects. _______________

2. The numeraries who attend these courses undergo a final exam in each one and receive their grade. An act is prepared which is signed by a tribunal or professors.

3. There is no validation examination subsequent to the courses of philosophy or theology.

4. The philosophical subjects or courses taught to the numerary women (excluding the auxiliary numeraries) are the same as are taught to the numerary men. They are the following: Cosmology, Logic, Ethics, Psychology, History of Philosophy (two years), Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge, Theodicy, and Metaphysics.

5. Only those who have passed each and every course in philosophy can take the subject or courses in theology. _______________

6. During the years in which I was a numerary priest in Opus Dei, I was the professor of numerary women or various philosophical subjects (noted in number four of the present declaration). On occasion, I read written examinations of numerary women who had taken some subject or course in theology. In all cases, I gave the grade that I thought appropriate, and on several occasions, I signed the examination acts. _______________

Everything written here I affirm and declare, and after having re-read it, I am in conformity with what is written, according to the normal sense of words and phrases, and I sign it today, April 14, 1974, in Mexico City, to all effects, knowing that everything manifested and declared is true in each and every point, and that the truth does not harm nor offend. _______________

Signed: Faustino Castro Gete

____________________________________________________________

March 3rd, 1979.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

This is to certify that MARIA DEL CARMEN TAPIA attended classes of Scholastic Philosophy at Caracas, Venezuela during the years 1963 to 1965. The Subjects of the said Course were:

Introduction to Philosophy
Logic
Cosmology
Psychology
History of Ancient Philosophy
History of Medieval Philosophy
History of Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
General Ethics & Special Ethics
Metaphysics
Epistemology
Theodicy

Having passed the written examinations satisfactorily she was allowed to enter a Theological Course.

Being, myself, one of the teachers or this Philosophical Course and having taught most of the subjects of this said Course while stationed at Caracas, Venezuela during the years 1962 to 1966, I give testimony that this is a true statement with my usual signature.

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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:44 am

APPENDIX B: ORIGINALS OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MY FATHER AND MONSIGNOR ESCRIVA

Madrid, 4 de octubre de 1966

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Estimado Monsenor Escriva:

Me permito enviarle estas lineas para rogarle tenga a bien indicar el envio a mi nombre y a la direccion del membrete, los siguientes documentos que mi hija Maria del Carmen dejo en Roma y que en la actualidad le son muy necesarios:

1) Tarjeta de identidad venezolana, valida hasta el ano 1970, semejante a nuestro documento de identidad espanol -- concretamente este documento lo tenia dentro de una agenda que le retiro la Srta. M. Morado-;

2) Certificado internacional de vacuna - es un librito de cubiertas amarillas - expedido en Caracas.

3) Papeletas de examen de la Escuela Central Superior de Comercio de Madrid y de otros Centros Oficiales de Ensefiana - Escuela Mecanografica y Taquigrafica, Professional de la Mujer-, etc.;

4) Partida de Registro Civil y de Bautismo;

5) Boletin oficial del Estado Venezolano en el que constaba su nacionalidad oficial venezolana;

6) Certificado de Servicio Social'

7) Titulo internacional de conducir - valido hasta abril de 1967 - expedido en Caracas;

8) Aquellos otros documentos personales que en este momento pudiera no nombrar yo expresamente, pero que 16-giamente solo tienen valides extrictamente personal, entre los que se encuentra, a titulo de ejempio, un cuaderno de tapas engras, mas bien pequeno con diversas direcciones, etc. etc.; es decir, repito papeles, documentos, etc. que solo a mi hija puden interesar, por ojempio tambien fotografias de tipo carnet, etc.

Le agradesco muy especialmente las molestias que mi peticion lleva consigo y por supuesto cualquier roombolso que haya que enviar, le ruego tenga a bien indicarmelo para que pueda dar yo las correspondientes ordenes, a fin de que le sea hecho efectivo de immediato.

En espera de sus prontas noticias, le saluda muy atentamente,

Firmado:

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo

FJT/lal

APPENDIX B: ORIGINALS OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MY FATHER AND MONSIGNOR ESCRIVA

Madrid, 4 de octubre de 1966

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Estimado Monsenor Escriva:

Me permito enviarle estas lineas para rogarle tenga a bien indicar el envio a mi nombre y a la direccion del membrete, los siguientes documentos que mi hija Maria del Carmen dejo en Roma y que en la actualidad le son muy necesarios:

1) Tarjeta de identidad venezolana, valida hasta el ano 1970, semejante a nuestro documento de identidad espanol -- concretamente este documento lo tenia dentro de una agenda que le retiro la Srta. M. Morado-;

2) Certificado internacional de vacuna - es un librito de cubiertas amarillas - expedido en Caracas.

3) Papeletas de examen de la Escuela Central Superior de Comercio de Madrid y de otros Centros Oficiales de Ensefiana - Escuela Mecanografica y Taquigrafica, Professional de la Mujer-, etc.;

4) Partida de Registro Civil y de Bautismo;

5) Boletin oficial del Estado Venezolano en el que constaba su nacionalidad oficial venezolana;

6) Certificado de Servicio Social'

7) Titulo internacional de conducir - valido hasta abril de 1967 - expedido en Caracas;

8) Aquellos otros documentos personales que en este momento pudiera no nombrar yo expresamente, pero que 16-giamente solo tienen valides extrictamente personal, entre los que se encuentra, a titulo de ejempio, un cuaderno de tapas engras, mas bien pequeno con diversas direcciones, etc. etc.; es decir, repito papeles, documentos, etc. que solo a mi hija puden interesar, por ojempio tambien fotografias de tipo carnet, etc.

Le agradesco muy especialmente las molestias que mi peticion lleva consigo y por supuesto cualquier roombolso que haya que enviar, le ruego tenga a bien indicarmelo para que pueda dar yo las correspondientes ordenes, a fin de que le sea hecho efectivo de immediato.

En espera de sus prontas noticias, le saluda muy atentamente,

Firmado:

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo

FJT/lal

FRANCISCO VIVES
Doctor en Derecho Civil y Canonico

Roma, 11 de octubre, 1966

Sr. D. Francisco Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo
Ingeniero Industrial
Lopez de Hoyos, 15, 5º,
Madrid

Estimado Senor Tapia:

Se ha recibido au carta, de fecha 4 de octubre, cuando Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer estaba fuera de Roma; sin embargo, he tenido ocasion de hablar por telefono con Monsenor y, en su ausencia, deseo contestar a Vd. personalmente.

Le envio, con mucho gusto, las cosas que habia aqui de M. del Carmen. Espero la ocasion del viaje proximo de un ami go, porque me parece que este sistema es mas seguro que el del correo ordinario.

Siento de veras, en cambio, tener que decirle que las casas relacionadas con la estancia de su hija en Venezuela, no puedo enviarselas, porque no me lo permite mi conciencia. Lo que acabo de manifestarle, indudablemente, requiere una explicacion, sabre todo si - ademas - se tiene en cuenta que con bastante probabilidad Vd. habra recibido una version de los hechos notoriamente parcial y deformada.

Crea sinceramente que no quiero, con estas lineas, aumentar sus preocupaciones, sino contribuir al bien de su hija. Por eso, ahora me veo obligado a decirle que, si Vd. conociera algunos aspectos del comportamiento de M. del Carmen en Venezuela, se quedaria profundamente apenado, porque no solo se hizo dano a si misma, sino que tambien perjudico gra vemente a otras almas.

Ahora comprendera Vd. mejor el porque no puedo enviarle nada que tenga algo que ver con la estancia de su hija en Ve nezuela. Y esta es igualmente la razon por la cual se desa consejo por completo a su hija -y quiero que Vd. 10 sepa- el pensar en un posible regreso a Venezuela. Tengo que decirle, con toda lealtad, que la msrcha de M. del Carmen a Venezuela podria dar lugar a cosas muy desagradables, porque alli saldrian a 1a luz hechos que hasta ahora - por consideracion con Vds., y por caridad con su hija - hemos silenciado celosamente, guardando la mas absoluta discrecion.

He querida, estimado Senor Tapia, ser claro y delicado, pero no crudo. Para que Vd. se haga mas cargo de la realidad de lo sucedido, solo deseo anadir que, durante mucho tiempo, se pusieron todos los medios para ayudar a su hija; y que, finalmente, ante su descamino, no hubo mas remedio que instruir un expediente, cumpliendo las normas del Derecho Canonico, con la maxima justicia y caridad, y extremando en todo momento la delicadeza.

Espero que tambien sepa comprender el porque no le habiamos informado de estos asuntos: hemos querido cubrir las miserias con el manto de la caridad, y buena prueba de esto es que ni siquiera a Vd. habiamos dado a conocer estos sucesos lamentables. Me consta, en cambio, que M. del Cermen no guarda este silencio -y falta a la verdad-, Cosa que me deja perplejo, porque la verdad, si dejamos que se sepa, es muy penosa para ella.

No quiero terminer sin hacerle patente mi profundo dolor por todo lo sucedido y la esperanza de que, por fin, M. del Carmen encauce su vida y olvide el pasado, como lo hemos hecho los que por deber hemos tenido que intervenir en este asunto.

Le saluda atentamente

Francisco Vives

Madrid, 9 de marzo de 1967

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Muy Sr. mfo:

Acuso recibo de la carta del Dr. Francisco Vives de fecha 11 del pasado octubre, en la que contesta, en su nombre, a la mfa del 4 del mismo mes; carta quenme fue entregada a mano en mi oficina y acompanada de algunos de los documentos interesados en mi citada carta.

Desde aquella fecha he estado esperando a recibir los demas documentos peronales de mi hija Maria del Carmen colicitados tambien en mi carta; pues confiaba en que, a pesar de cuanto indicaba el Dr. Vives en la suya, comprenderfan Vds. que por tratarse de documentos personales y de la estricta propiedad de mi hija, me debian ser devueltos.

Sin embargo, estos documentos no me han sido enviados y por ello le ruego, una vez mas, disponga me sean remitidos a la mayor brevedad; por tratarse de documentos personales que ella necesita tener en su poder, hasta el punto de poder incurrir en responsabilidad legal al no hacerlo asi y que por estos motivos y bajo ninjun concepto se puede justificar que sean retenidos por Vds.

Respecto a las indicaciones que me hacen sobre posibles viajes de mi hija a Venezuela nada puedo decirles que a Vds. deba comunicar puesto que solo Dios sabe el porvenir concreto de cada persona, y ni Vds. ni yo podemos limitar, llegado el caso, su libertad de movimientos, ya que, - como
Vds. bien saben - todos tenemos que repetar la libertad personal.

En espera de los documentos solicitados, le saluda atentamente,

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pi

FJT/lal

FRANCISCO VIVES
Doctor en Derecho Civil y Canonico

Roma, 11 de octubre, 1966

Sr. D. Francisco Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo
Ingeniero Industrial
Lopez de Hoyos, 15, 5º,
Madrid

Estimado Senor Tapia:

Se ha recibido au carta, de fecha 4 de octubre, cuando Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer estaba fuera de Roma; sin embargo, he tenido ocasion de hablar por telefono con Monsenor y, en su ausencia, deseo contestar a Vd. personalmente.

Le envio, con mucho gusto, las cosas que habia aqui de M. del Carmen. Espero la ocasion del viaje proximo de un ami go, porque me parece que este sistema es mas seguro que el del correo ordinario.

Siento de veras, en cambio, tener que decirle que las casas relacionadas con la estancia de su hija en Venezuela, no puedo enviarselas, porque no me lo permite mi conciencia. Lo que acabo de manifestarle, indudablemente, requiere una explicacion, sabre todo si - ademas - se tiene en cuenta que con bastante probabilidad Vd. habra recibido una version de los hechos notoriamente parcial y deformada.

Crea sinceramente que no quiero, con estas lineas, aumentar sus preocupaciones, sino contribuir al bien de su hija. Por eso, ahora me veo obligado a decirle que, si Vd. conociera algunos aspectos del comportamiento de M. del Carmen en Venezuela, se quedaria profundamente apenado, porque no solo se hizo dano a si misma, sino que tambien perjudico gra vemente a otras almas.

Ahora comprendera Vd. mejor el porque no puedo enviarle nada que tenga algo que ver con la estancia de su hija en Ve nezuela. Y esta es igualmente la razon por la cual se desa consejo por completo a su hija -y quiero que Vd. 10 sepa- el pensar en un posible regreso a Venezuela. Tengo que decirle, con toda lealtad, que la msrcha de M. del Carmen a Venezuela podria dar lugar a cosas muy desagradables, porque alli saldrian a 1a luz hechos que hasta ahora - por consideracion con Vds., y por caridad con su hija - hemos silenciado celosamente, guardando la mas absoluta discrecion.

He querida, estimado Senor Tapia, ser claro y delicado, pero no crudo. Para que Vd. se haga mas cargo de la realidad de lo sucedido, solo deseo anadir que, durante mucho tiempo, se pusieron todos los medios para ayudar a su hija; y que, finalmente, ante su descamino, no hubo mas remedio que instruir un expediente, cumpliendo las normas del Derecho Canonico, con la maxima justicia y caridad, y extremando en todo momento la delicadeza.

Espero que tambien sepa comprender el porque no le habiamos informado de estos asuntos: hemos querido cubrir las miserias con el manto de la caridad, y buena prueba de esto es que ni siquiera a Vd. habiamos dado a conocer estos sucesos lamentables. Me consta, en cambio, que M. del Cermen no guarda este silencio -y falta a la verdad-, Cosa que me deja perplejo, porque la verdad, si dejamos que se sepa, es muy penosa para ella.

No quiero terminer sin hacerle patente mi profundo dolor por todo lo sucedido y la esperanza de que, por fin, M. del Carmen encauce su vida y olvide el pasado, como lo hemos hecho los que por deber hemos tenido que intervenir en este asunto.

Le saluda atentamente

Francisco Vives

APPENDIX B: ORIGINALS OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MY FATHER AND MONSIGNOR ESCRIVA

Madrid, 4 de octubre de 1966

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Estimado Monsenor Escriva:

Me permito enviarle estas lineas para rogarle tenga a bien indicar el envio a mi nombre y a la direccion del membrete, los siguientes documentos que mi hija Maria del Carmen dejo en Roma y que en la actualidad le son muy necesarios:

1) Tarjeta de identidad venezolana, valida hasta el ano 1970, semejante a nuestro documento de identidad espanol -- concretamente este documento lo tenia dentro de una agenda que le retiro la Srta. M. Morado-;

2) Certificado internacional de vacuna - es un librito de cubiertas amarillas - expedido en Caracas.

3) Papeletas de examen de la Escuela Central Superior de Comercio de Madrid y de otros Centros Oficiales de Ensefiana - Escuela Mecanografica y Taquigrafica, Professional de la Mujer-, etc.;

4) Partida de Registro Civil y de Bautismo;

5) Boletin oficial del Estado Venezolano en el que constaba su nacionalidad oficial venezolana;

6) Certificado de Servicio Social'

7) Titulo internacional de conducir - valido hasta abril de 1967 - expedido en Caracas;

8) Aquellos otros documentos personales que en este momento pudiera no nombrar yo expresamente, pero que 16-giamente solo tienen valides extrictamente personal, entre los que se encuentra, a titulo de ejempio, un cuaderno de tapas engras, mas bien pequeno con diversas direcciones, etc. etc.; es decir, repito papeles, documentos, etc. que solo a mi hija puden interesar, por ojempio tambien fotografias de tipo carnet, etc.

Le agradesco muy especialmente las molestias que mi peticion lleva consigo y por supuesto cualquier roombolso que haya que enviar, le ruego tenga a bien indicarmelo para que pueda dar yo las correspondientes ordenes, a fin de que le sea hecho efectivo de immediato.

En espera de sus prontas noticias, le saluda muy atentamente,

Firmado:

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo

FJT/lal

FRANCISCO VIVES
Doctor en Derecho Civil y Canonico

Roma, 11 de octubre, 1966

Sr. D. Francisco Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pinelo
Ingeniero Industrial
Lopez de Hoyos, 15, 5º,
Madrid

Estimado Senor Tapia:

Se ha recibido au carta, de fecha 4 de octubre, cuando Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer estaba fuera de Roma; sin embargo, he tenido ocasion de hablar por telefono con Monsenor y, en su ausencia, deseo contestar a Vd. personalmente.

Le envio, con mucho gusto, las cosas que habia aqui de M. del Carmen. Espero la ocasion del viaje proximo de un ami go, porque me parece que este sistema es mas seguro que el del correo ordinario.

Siento de veras, en cambio, tener que decirle que las casas relacionadas con la estancia de su hija en Venezuela, no puedo enviarselas, porque no me lo permite mi conciencia. Lo que acabo de manifestarle, indudablemente, requiere una explicacion, sabre todo si - ademas - se tiene en cuenta que con bastante probabilidad Vd. habra recibido una version de los hechos notoriamente parcial y deformada.

Crea sinceramente que no quiero, con estas lineas, aumentar sus preocupaciones, sino contribuir al bien de su hija. Por eso, ahora me veo obligado a decirle que, si Vd. conociera algunos aspectos del comportamiento de M. del Carmen en Venezuela, se quedaria profundamente apenado, porque no solo se hizo dano a si misma, sino que tambien perjudico gra vemente a otras almas.

Ahora comprendera Vd. mejor el porque no puedo enviarle nada que tenga algo que ver con la estancia de su hija en Ve nezuela. Y esta es igualmente la razon por la cual se desa consejo por completo a su hija -y quiero que Vd. 10 sepa- el pensar en un posible regreso a Venezuela. Tengo que decirle, con toda lealtad, que la msrcha de M. del Carmen a Venezuela podria dar lugar a cosas muy desagradables, porque alli saldrian a 1a luz hechos que hasta ahora - por consideracion con Vds., y por caridad con su hija - hemos silenciado celosamente, guardando la mas absoluta discrecion.

He querida, estimado Senor Tapia, ser claro y delicado, pero no crudo. Para que Vd. se haga mas cargo de la realidad de lo sucedido, solo deseo anadir que, durante mucho tiempo, se pusieron todos los medios para ayudar a su hija; y que, finalmente, ante su descamino, no hubo mas remedio que instruir un expediente, cumpliendo las normas del Derecho Canonico, con la maxima justicia y caridad, y extremando en todo momento la delicadeza.

Espero que tambien sepa comprender el porque no le habiamos informado de estos asuntos: hemos querido cubrir las miserias con el manto de la caridad, y buena prueba de esto es que ni siquiera a Vd. habiamos dado a conocer estos sucesos lamentables. Me consta, en cambio, que M. del Cermen no guarda este silencio -y falta a la verdad-, Cosa que me deja perplejo, porque la verdad, si dejamos que se sepa, es muy penosa para ella.

No quiero terminer sin hacerle patente mi profundo dolor por todo lo sucedido y la esperanza de que, por fin, M. del Carmen encauce su vida y olvide el pasado, como lo hemos hecho los que por deber hemos tenido que intervenir en este asunto.

Le saluda atentamente

Francisco Vives

Madrid, 9 de marzo de 1967

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Muy Sr. mfo:

Acuso recibo de la carta del Dr. Francisco Vives de fecha 11 del pasado octubre, en la que contesta, en su nombre, a la mfa del 4 del mismo mes; carta quenme fue entregada a mano en mi oficina y acompanada de algunos de los documentos interesados en mi citada carta.

Desde aquella fecha he estado esperando a recibir los demas documentos peronales de mi hija Maria del Carmen colicitados tambien en mi carta; pues confiaba en que, a pesar de cuanto indicaba el Dr. Vives en la suya, comprenderfan Vds. que por tratarse de documentos personales y de la estricta propiedad de mi hija, me debian ser devueltos.

Sin embargo, estos documentos no me han sido enviados y por ello le ruego, una vez mas, disponga me sean remitidos a la mayor brevedad; por tratarse de documentos personales que ella necesita tener en su poder, hasta el punto de poder incurrir en responsabilidad legal al no hacerlo asi y que por estos motivos y bajo ninjun concepto se puede justificar que sean retenidos por Vds.

Respecto a las indicaciones que me hacen sobre posibles viajes de mi hija a Venezuela nada puedo decirles que a Vds. deba comunicar puesto que solo Dios sabe el porvenir concreto de cada persona, y ni Vds. ni yo podemos limitar, llegado el caso, su libertad de movimientos, ya que, - como
Vds. bien saben - todos tenemos que repetar la libertad personal.

En espera de los documentos solicitados, le saluda atentamente,

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pi

FJT/lal

Madrid, 9 de marzo de 1967

Excmo. y Revdmo. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de
Balaguer y Albas,
Presidente General del Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73
Roma (Italia)

Muy Sr. mfo:

Acuso recibo de la carta del Dr. Francisco Vives de fecha 11 del pasado octubre, en la que contesta, en su nombre, a la mfa del 4 del mismo mes; carta quenme fue entregada a mano en mi oficina y acompanada de algunos de los documentos interesados en mi citada carta.

Desde aquella fecha he estado esperando a recibir los demas documentos peronales de mi hija Maria del Carmen colicitados tambien en mi carta; pues confiaba en que, a pesar de cuanto indicaba el Dr. Vives en la suya, comprenderfan Vds. que por tratarse de documentos personales y de la estricta propiedad de mi hija, me debian ser devueltos.

Sin embargo, estos documentos no me han sido enviados y por ello le ruego, una vez mas, disponga me sean remitidos a la mayor brevedad; por tratarse de documentos personales que ella necesita tener en su poder, hasta el punto de poder incurrir en responsabilidad legal al no hacerlo asi y que por estos motivos y bajo ninjun concepto se puede justificar que sean retenidos por Vds.

Respecto a las indicaciones que me hacen sobre posibles viajes de mi hija a Venezuela nada puedo decirles que a Vds. deba comunicar puesto que solo Dios sabe el porvenir concreto de cada persona, y ni Vds. ni yo podemos limitar, llegado el caso, su libertad de movimientos, ya que, - como
Vds. bien saben - todos tenemos que repetar la libertad personal.

En espera de los documentos solicitados, le saluda atentamente,

Francisco-Javier Tapia Cervantes-Pi

FJT/lal
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:46 am

APPENDIX C: LETTERS TO HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II

Maria del Carmen Tapia

Santa Barbara, August 2, 1991

His Most Illustrious Eminence
Cardinal Angel Sodano
Secretariate of State
Vatican City

Matter of Conscience

Your Eminence:

I enclose material labeled "Secret and matter of conscience" with the urgent request to put it directly and personally in the hands of our Blessed Father, His Holiness John Paul II.

Given the importance of its contents, Eminence, I request in the name of God that you not entrust this material to any intermediary but rather that your Eminence be the one to present it to the Holy Father directly and personally.

Abusing your charity, I would request for the peace of my conscience that you also send me a short note at the address below, notifying me of the date on which the document was directly presented to his Holiness.

With gratitude and respect, I request your blessing,

(signed) Maria del Carmen Tapia

_____________________________________________________________

Maria del Carmen Tapia

Santa Barbara, August 2, 1991

His Holiness John Paul II
Vatican City

Blessed Father:

After serious deliberation, I have decided to write in order to open my soul to you and manifest before God and the Church what is for me a serious duty of conscience: that the life of Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva de Balaguer, which I witnessed for many years, was not admirable and much less was it worthy of imitation. His process of beatification would seriously harm the Church and souls, since it would also imply that the manner in which he lived the teaching of Opus Dei, founded by him, was exemplary.

I know Opus Dei well because I was a Numerary for almost twenty years (1948-1966), during six of which I lived in Rome (1952-1956 and 1965-66). I was Monsignor Escriva's personal secretary and a Major Superior in the Opus Dei Women's Branch Central Government. Monsignor Escriva in person received my final vows in Opus Dei. Furthermore, I was the first director of the press that Opus Dei has in its central house in Rome and also was specially charged, when Monsignor Escriva went to the women's house, with taking notes for posterity, on whatever I might hear him say. In 1956 I was sent to Venezuela as Director of the Women's Branch in that country, where I obtained Venezuelan citizenship, which I retain. I left Venezuela in 1965, when Monsignor Escriva summoned me to Rome, where I remained until my departure from Opus Dei in 1966.

Now I see Opus Dei superiors rush through the steps of this beatification, exhausting all their human, social, political, and financial resources, because they judge that if they do not succeed during your Pontificate, Blessed Father, perhaps centuries will go by before they obtain the beatification. After having won the juridical change of status from Secular Institute to Personal Prelature, Opus Dei's single goal and objective is to make its founder a saint.

I wished to testify in Monsignor Escriva process at the appropriate time and was not allowed to do so. Moreover, it was expressly indicated to me in Madrid, in October, 1981, by way of the priest Don Joaquin Aznar Cleofas, whom I visited, because he was an "advocatus diaboli," that I would not be permitted to do so.

Given the extreme importance and repercussions of the possible outcome, and understanding that my testimony may be crucial, I am ready, Blessed Father, to be directly interrogated by your Holiness in the manner in which you may choose, going to Rome on day and time that are chosen.

Opus Dei's way of acting, its great influence, and its maneuvers within the Roman Curia have been well known by everyone for a long time. But unfortunately during Monsignor Escriva's whole process of beatification, this has been especially the case in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where his Eminence Cardinal Pietro Palazzini was in charge. Therefore, I would beseech you, Blessed Father, if your Holiness cannot personally hear me in such an important case for the health of the Church and of souls, that you would accede to designate a judge for the hearing, who has your strict, personal trust and who has not the slightest relation with Opus Dei.

If Opus Dei perceives my desire to testify before your Holiness, I would not discount the possibility, Blessed Father, that they might interfere with my testimony, whether by somehow impeding my physical presence in the Vatican or else by a subtle or not so subtle personal attack that would sow doubts about my moral integrity; it would not be the first time that they recur to this procedure, as several of the documents which I have in my power show. For this reason, I have felt obliged to store the originals of the documents that I possess in different, secure places under legal protection. All this material would in the last analysis become public even in the event that something should happen to me.

For a long time I have wished to be able to speak directly to you and, like a daughter to her father, open my heart which suffers because of the likelihood of this event, and also to be able to respond to any question of yours, but unhappily, I have not been able to reach your Holiness, despite my previous trips to Rome.

It is my fervent desire, Holy Father, that at this time, for the good of the universal Church and of all souls, this beatification process, which Opus Dei so precipitously wishes to accelerate and shorten be prolonged for as long as necessary. In this way, scandal would be avoided, ample time would be given to investigate the case thoroughly. Along with the already familiar testimony of those persons who were unilaterally presented by members or Superiors of Opus Dei, testimony could be taken from those others who knew Monsignor Escriva intimately, spent more than fifteen, twenty, or thirty years in Opus Dei, and would have wanted to declare, but were not called nor permitted to do so, because they had ceased to belong to Opus Dei.

Opus Dei Superiors fear this testimony because true facts would come to light, which they do not like, which cast a different light on the picture they try to project of Monsignor Escriva's life. Therefore, they do whatever is in their hand so that those persons whose point of view does not coincide with what they want to make prevail are considered to be unsuitable or untrustworthy witnesses.

Blessed Father, I attach to this letter a series of sketches of events at which I was present, lived through, and heard, during my years inside Opus Dei. Although these events are not all I know, they can offer your Holiness a different perspective of Monsignor Escriva's real life. I could add other events, still more serious, and individually documented, about my personal experience with Monsignor Escriva, which I am prepared to set forth in your Holiness' presence.

Also, I attach a draft, in its current state, of a work which I prepared commenting on the document presented by Opus Dei to the Holy See with the petition for the change from Secular Institute to Personal Prelature. I can assure you, Holy Father, that my comments on each point reflect the truth.

I know a number of persons who still fear reprisals by Opus Dei, and who with troubled conscience remain silent. These persons would only speak at the request of your Holiness. And their testimony, which would be important and which could specially weigh on your Holiness' final judgment, would not become available in any other way. For example, I can place at your Holiness' disposition the name of a female Opus Dei Numerary of thirty years standing, who requested to withdraw from Opus Dei only two years ago, and who has assured me that unless she speaks with your Holiness, she would never speak with anyone for fear of possible Opus Dei reprisals.

I believe in the Holy Spirit and trusting in his intercession, I hope that your Holiness may hear my plea.

With all humility, your daughter in our Lord requests your blessing,

(signed) Maria del Carmen Tapia

Attachments: 11 pages of descriptions and a 53 page draft in blue cover.

_____________________________________________________________

Maria del Carmen Tapia

Santa Barbara, September 24, 1991

His Illustrious Eminence
Cardinal Sodano
Secretariate of State
Vatican City

MATTER OF CONSCIENCE

Eminence:

With renewed confidence I attach this new material as "Secret and matter of conscience" with the request just as before to put it directly and personally in the hands of our Holy Father his Holiness John Paul II.

At this point it is obvious that I must insist on the importance of the enclosed material and that, abusing your goodness, it be you who give it directly and personally to the Holy Father.

I would thank you from the bottom of my soul, if you would have a brief note sent assuring me that both the material sent for the Holy Father by way of your Eminence with the date of August 2, 1991, and the present material have been personally given to his Holiness. I know with certainty from the postal service used that the material reached your Eminence. However, I have not yet received confirmation from your Eminence that the material has been handed over to the Holy Father.

Awaiting your reply, with all gratitude and respect, I request your blessing,

(signed) Maria del Carmen Tapia

P.S. I would like to repeat, Eminence, that I am prepared to travel to Rome at his Holiness' first call.

_____________________________________________________________

Maria del Carmen Tapia

Santa Barbara, September 24, 1991

To his Holiness John Paul II
Vatican City

Blessed Father:

While I await your Holiness' summons to testify with regard to the cause of beatification of Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva de Balaguer and, as a continuation of my letter of August 2, 1991 (which according to the postal service was received in the Secretariate of State on August 9, 1991), I would like to include as addenda the following account of events which I consider to be very important:

1. Monsignor Escriva's own actions in my own process of withdrawal from Opus Dei.

2. As a consequence of the above, photocopies of the letter sent to my father by direct and specific order of Monsignor Escriva, as also the letters sent by my father to Monsignor Escriva.

3. Photocopies of letters sent by order of Monsignor Escriva to different university and diplomatic authorities denying the philosophical and theological studies that I completed in Opus Dei. One must understand that such letters can only be written in Opus Dei by direct and specific order of the President General, at that time Monsignor Escriva. In essence, what they were trying to deny was not only the studies that I completed, but that I had belonged to the institution. Indeed, his Eminence, Cardinal Tavera, may he rest in peace, tried to help me on this point and was never able to understand the lack of charity and justice in Monsignor Escriva's actions.

It is obvious, Blessed Father, that I am ready to expand upon these events in speaking before your Holiness or, as I said in my previous letter and repeat now, before a judge who enjoys your strict, personal confidence and who has no connection whatever with Opus Dei. Similarly, I am ready to repeat everything under oath.

I know that a number of persons who were in Opus Dei for many years have just written you again, since the correspondence sent previously seems never to have reached your Holiness' hands.

The matter as a whole is so serious, Blessed Father, that more than ever I trust fully in the Holy Sprit to illuminate your Holiness, and to move you precisely in the direction of justice as Pope, to listen to those of your children who have made our heartfelt requests as children of the Church and for the good of souls.

Requesting humbly that you bless her, your daughter in our Lord,

(signed) Maria del Carmen Tapia

Attachments:

1. Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva's own actions in my own process of withdrawal from Opus Dei (18 pages).

2. Correspondence between Monsignor Escriva and my father (three letters).

3. Correspondence between the Dean of Foreign Students of the University of California, Dr. K.M. Mathew, and Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva (three letters).

4. Correspondence between the Dean of Foreign Students of the University of California, Dr. K.M. Mathew, and the Counselor of Venezuela, Roberto Salvat, via the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela, Monsignor Del Judice (three letters)

5. Letter of the Administrative Assistant of the Dean of Foreign Students, Mrs. Muriel E. Engle, to Sofia Pilo, Regional Secretary of Venezuela.

6. Letter of Attorney Dr. Carlos Hernandez Bitter to Roberto Salvat, Counselor of Venezuela.

7. Correspondence between the Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies of the University of California, Professor G.J. Larson, and Mr. William K. Braun, Cultural Attache of the Embassy of the United States in Rome (four letters).

8. Correspondence between Maria del Carmen Tapia and his Eminence Cardinal Arturo Tavera (two letters).

9. Declaration of Dr. Faustino Castro, attorney and priest.

10. Correspondence between the Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies of the University of California, Professor G.J. Larson, and Monsignor Jose-Maria Escriva (two letters).

11. Certificate of Studies by Rev. Father [name whitened out] Numerary priest of Opus Dei.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:06 am

BIBLIOGRAPHY ON OPUS DEI

Albas, Carlos. Opus Dei o chapuza al diablo. Barcelona: Planeta, 1992.

Araus, Juan "Juan-Pablo II erige el Opus Dei en Prelatura Personal," El Pais (Madrid), August 24, 1993

___. Un Dios para el Papa: Juan Pablo II y la Iglesia del Milenio. Madrid: Grijalbo

Artigues, Daniel. El Opus Dei en Enspana. vol. 1 (1928-1957), vol. 2. Madrid: Ruedo Iberico, 1968

___. "Que'est-ce que l'Opus Dei?" Esprit (Paris) November 1967.

Baeza, Alvaro. La verdadera Historia del Opus Dei. Madrid: ABL Editor, 1994.

Becarud, Jean. De la Regenta al "Opus Dei." Madrid: Taurus, 1977.

Berglar, Peter. Opus Dei: Vida y Obra del Fundador Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer. Madrid: Rialp, 1987. Original German edition: Opus Dei: Leben und Werk des Grunders Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. Salzburg: Otto Muller Verlag, 1983.

Bernal, Salvador. Monsenor Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer: Apuntes sobre la vida del fundador del Opus Dei. Madrid: Rialp, 1976, 2d edition. English edition: A Profile of Msg. Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei. London: Scepter Ltd., 1977.

Bernstein, Carl, and Marco Politi. His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Boixados, Jordi. Opus Dei, retrat de familia. Barcelona: Editorial Columna, 1993.

Bowers, Fergal. The Work: An Investigation into the History of Opus Dei and How It Operates in Ireland Today. Dublin: Poolbeg Ltd., 1989.

Burke, Cormac, Conscience and Freedom. New York: Scepter Press and Manila: Sunag Tala Press, 1977.

Carandell, Luis. Vida y milagros de monsenor Escriva de Balaguer, fundador del Opus Barcelona: Laia, 1975, 2d edition 1992.

Casanova, Jose Vicente. The Opus Dei and the Modernization of Spain. Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1983.

Casciaro, Pedro. Sonad y os quedareis cortos. Madrid: Rialp, 1994.

Cierva, Ricardo de la. Misterios de la Historia. Second Series. Barcelona: Planeta, 1992.

Concilium: The Church as Institution, vol. 1, number 1 (London), January 1974.

Constituciones del Opus Dei, vol. 1, 1950. Bilingual edition, translation of Latin into Spanish by Lois Perez Castro. Madrid: Tiempo, 1986.

Constituciones del Opus Dei, vol. II, 1982. Bilingual edition, translation of Latin into Spanish by Matilde Rovira Soler. Madrid: Tiempo, 1986.

Cordero, Franco. Opus. Turin: Einaudi, 1972.

Creach, Jean. Chroniques Espagnoles: Le Coeur et l'epee. Paris: Librairie Plon, 1958.

Cremades, Javier (coordinator). Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Fundador del Opus Dei: Claves de un proceso de canonizacion. Madrid: Scriptor, 1992. Cuadernos-3: Vivir en Cristo. Rome: Collegium Romanum Sanctae Crucis, 1973.

Dalmau, Josep. Contrapunts: Al Cami de L'Opus Dei. Barcelona: Editorial Portic, 1969.

Day, Mark R. "What Opus Dei Has Done for the Church ... and for the Sake of Its Reputation" (interview with Maria del Carmen Tapia), National Catholic Reporter, May 27, 1983, pp. 12-13.

Documentos Mundo Cristiano: Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer: Itinerario de la causa de canonizacion. Prologue by Jesus Urteaga. Madrid: Ed. Palabra. 1991.

Eguibar, Mercedes. Monserrat Grasses: Christian Heroism in Ordinary Life. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1980.

Escriva de Balaguer, Jose Maria. Camino. Valencia: Ediciones C.I.D., 1939. English edition: The Way. New York: Scepter Publishers. 1979.

___. Conversaciones Con. Mexico: Rialp Mexicana, 1968.

___. Es Cristo que pasa: Homilias. Madrid: Rialp, 1974. English edition: Christ Is Passing By. Manila: Sinag-Tala Publishers, 1974.

___. La Abadesa de las Huelgas: Estudio Teologico Juridico. Madrid: Rialp, 1974.

___. The Christian Vocation. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1974.

___. Time Is a Treasure. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1974.

___. Humility. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1974.

___. Holy Rosary. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1974.

___. Detachment. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1979.

___. Christian Respect for the Person and His Freedom. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1979.

___. Woman Today: Her Role in the Family. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1980.

___. Surco. Barcelona: Rialp, 1986. English edition: Furrow. London/New York: Scepter, 1988.

___. Forja. Mexico: Editoria de Revistas S.A., 1987. English edition: Forge. London/New York, Scepter, 1988.

Estruc, Joan. L'Opus Dei: les seves paradoxes: iun estudi sociologic. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1993.

___. Santos y Pillos: El Opus Dei y sus paradojas. Barcelona: Herder, 1994. English translation: Saints and Schemers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Farrell, Michael J. "What Scriva's Beatification Says about the Church," National Catholic Reporter, April 17, 1992.

Fuenmayor, Amadeo de, Valentin Gomez-Iglesias, and Jose Luis Illanes. EI itinerario Juridico del Opus Dei: Historia y defensa de un carisma. 4th edition Pamplona: Eciciones Univ. de Navarra, 1990.

Garcia Vino, M. Josemaria o la planificacion de un santo. Madrid: Libertarias/Prohufi, 1991.

Garvey. J.J.M. Parents' Guide to Opus Dei. New York: Sicut Dixit Press, 1989.

Giacomo, Maurizio di. Opus Dei. Naples: Tullio Pironri Editore, 1987.

Gomez Perez, Rafael. El Opus Dei: Una explicacion. Madrid: Rialp, 1992.

___. Trabajando junto al Beato Josemaria. Madrid: Rialp, 1994.

Gondrand, Francois, Al Paso de Dios: Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, fundador del Opus Dei. Madrid: Rialp, 1985.

___. Au pas de Dieu: Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer fondateur de L'Opus Dei, Paris: Editions France-Empire, 1982.

___. "La reponse de l'Oeuvre (aux declarations de Maria del Carmen Tapia." L'Actualite Religieuse (Paris), no. 134, 15, June 1995, p. 35.

Hebblethwaite, Peter. "Opus Dei: Lifting the Veil of Mystery," National Catholic Reporter, May 27, 1983, pp. 9 and 13.

Helming, Dennis M. Footprints In the Snow: A Pictorial Biography of Josemaria Escriva the Founder of Opus Dei. New York: Scepter Publishers, 1986.

Hertel, Peter. Ich verspreche euch den Himmel: Gerstlicher Anspruch, gesellschaftliche Ziele und kirchliche Bedeutung des Opus Dei. 4th printing, Dusseldorf: Patmos, 1991.

___. Geheimnisse des Opus Dei Freiburg i.B.: Herder, 1995.

Hutchinson, Robert. Die heilige Mafia des Papstes: Der wachsende Elnfluss des Opus Dei. Munich: Droemer Knaur, 1996. English edition: Their Kingdom Come. London: Doubleday, 1997.

Keenan, William. Der selige Josemaria Escriva: Eine kurze Lebensgeschichte. Cologne: Adamas-Verlag, 1990.

Lernoux, Penny. People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism. New York: Viking Press, 1989.

Le Tourneau, Dominique. What Is Opus Dei. Dublin: Mercier Press, 1989.

Le Vaillant, Yvon, Sainte Maffia: Le dossier de L'Opus Dei. Paris: Mercure de France, 1971.

Lo Castro, Gaetano. Le Prelature Personali: Profili Giuridici. Milan: Dott. A Giuffre Editore, 1988.

Martin, James. "Opus Dei in the United States," America, February 25, 1995.

Martinell, Francisco Cristianos Corrientes: Texto sobre el Opus Dei. Madrid: Rialp, 1970.

Messori, Vittorio. Opus Dei: Un'indagine. Milan; Mondadori, 1994.

Mettner, Matthias. Die katholische Mafia: Kirchliche Geheimbunde greifen nach der Macht. Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe, 1993.

Moncada, Alberto. El Opus Dei: Una interpretacion. Madrid: Indice, 1974.

___. Historia oral del Opus Dei. Barcelona: Plaza y Janes, 1987.

___. "Sectas Catolicas: el Opus Dei," Revista Internacional de Sociologia (Madrid: C.S.I.C.), 1992, pp. 280-330.

Morales, Jose, et al. Estudios sobre "Camino" (Madrid: Rialp), 1988.

Moreno, Maria-Angustias. El Opus Dei: Anexo a una historia. Barcelona: Planeta, 1976.

___. La otra cara del Opus Dei. Barcelona: Planeta, 1978.

___. El Opus Dei: Creencias y Controversias sobre la canonizacion de Monsenor Escriva. Madrid: Literarias Prodhufi, 1992.

Moynihan, Robert. "In Search of 'the Father,'" The Catholic World Report, May 1992, pp. 10-23.

Oberle, Thierry. L'Opus Dei: Dieu ou Cesar? Paris: JCLattes, 1993.

Ocariz, Fernando, and Ignacio de Celaya. Vivir como hijos de Dios: Estudios sobre el Beato Josemaria Escriva. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1993.

O'Connor, William. Opus Dei: An Open Book (a reply to The Secret World of Opus Dei by Michael Walsh). Dublin: Mercier Press Ltd., 1991.

Olaizola. Jose Luis. Un escrito en busca de Dios. Planeta. 1993.

Opus Dei. 21 preguntas a Mons. Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer. Semana (Caracas) number 239, November 1972.

Opus Dei. Excerpts from press interviews on Twenty Questions to Msgr. Escriva. New York: Scepter Booklets, 1977.

Orlandis, Jose. Historia y espiritu. Pamplona; Eunsa, 1975.

Paulus Akademie, ed. Opus Dei: Stosstrupp Gottes oder "Heilige Mafia"? Macht und Einfluss des Opus Dei in der Schweiz und anderswo. Zurich: NZN Buchverlag, 1992.

Portillo, Alvaro de. Faithful and Laity in the Church. Ireland; Ecclesia Press, 1972.

___. Escritos sobre el sacerdocio. Madrid: Scriptor/Palabra, 1990.

___. Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1976.

___. Intervista sul Fondatore dell'Opus Dei (by Cesare Cavalleri). Milan: Ares, 1992. German edition, Cologne: Adamas Verlag, 1996.

Portillo, Alvaro del, Francisco Ponz Piedrafita, and Gonzalo Herranz. En memoria de Mons. Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer. Pamplona; Eunsa, 1976.

Rocca, Giancarlo. L'Opus Dei: Appunti e documenti per una storia. Rome: Edizione Paoline, 1985.

Roche, John J. "Winning Recruits in Opus Dei: A Personal Experience," The Clergy Review, October 1985.

Rodriguez, Pedro, Fernando Ocariz, and Jose Luis Illanes, El Opus Dei en la Iglesia. Madrid: Rialp, 1993.

Romano, Giuseppe. Opus Dei: Chi, come, perche. Milan: Edizioni San Paolo, 1994.

Ropero, Javier. Hijos en el Opus Dei. Barcelona: Ediciones B, 1993.

Ruiz, Carlos M. Yo Argentina, esclavo del Opus Dei. Valencia: Brolisa, 1980.

San Francisco Chronicle. "Opus Dei's Roots in Francisco Franco's Spain," June 1, 1986, p. A-10.

Sargent, Daniel. God's Engineer. Chicago: Scepter, 1954.

Sastre, Ana. Tiempo de Caminar: Semblanza de Monsenor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. Madrid: Rialp, 1989.

Seco, Luis Ignacio. La herencia de Mons. Escriva de Balaguer. Madrid: Ediciones Palabra, 1986.

Steigleder, Klaus. Das Opus Dei: Eine Innenansicht. Zurich: Benziger, 1983. Italian edition: L'Opus Dei: Vista dall'interno. Turin: Claudiana, 1986.

Tapia, Maria del Carmen. Tras el Umbral: Una vida en el Opus Dei. Barcelona: Ediciones B, 1992; Portuguese edition: Do lado de dentro: Una vita na Opus Dei. Lisbon: Publicacoes Europa-America, 1993. German edition: Hinter der Schwelle: Ein Leben im Opus Dei. Zurich: Benziger Verlag, 1993; German paperback edition; Munich: Goldman Verlag, 1996.

___. "Goodhousekeepers for Opus Dei ... and Recipients of the Father's Rages," National Catholic Reporter, May 27, 1983, pp. 10-11.

___. "El poder del Opus Dei: Encuesta," Temas para el Debate (Madrid), no. 3, February 1995, p. 44.

___. "Opus Dei: Revelations sur 20 annees passees au coeur de l'Oeuvre" (press conference). Paris, Press Club de France, February 13, 1995. Translated into Italian and published in Adista (Rome), no. 24, April 1, 1995.

___. "Sectaire l'Opus Dei?" L'Actualite Religieuse (Paris), no. 134, June 15, 1995, pp. 32-34.

Urbano, Pilar. "En defensa de Padre," Panorama (Madrid), March 9, 1992, p. 13.

___. El hombre de Villa Tevere. Barcelona: Plaza y Janes, 1995.

Urteaga, Jesus. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer: Itinerano de la causa de canonizacion. Madrid: Scriptor, 1991.

Various authors. Escriva de Balaguer mito o santo? Madrid: Libertarias Prodhufi., 1992.

Vazquez de Prada, Andres. El fundador del Opus Dei: Mons. Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975). Madrid: Rialp, 1983.

Walsh, Michael. The Secret World of Opus Dei. London: Grafton Books-Collins, 1989. Spanish edition: El mundo secreto del Opus Dei. Barcelona: Plaza y Janes, 1990.

West, W. J. Opus Dei. Ficcion y realidad. Madrid: Rialp, 1987.

Woodward, Kenneth L. Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't, and Why. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.

Ynfante, Jesus. La prodigiosa aventura del Opus Dei: Genesis y desarollo de la Santa Mafia. Madrid: Rueda Iberico, 1970.

___. "Resurrection de l'Opus Dei an Espagne," le Monde Diplomatique (Paris), July 1996, p. 3.

___. Asi en la Tierra como en los Cielos. Madrid: Mondadori, 1996.
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Re: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD -- A LIFE IN OPUS DEI

Postby admin » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:07 am

Critical Reaction to Beyond the Threshold

"The most important, best documented, and most convincing indictment of Opus Dei ever written."
-- Misterios de la Historia

"This sympathetic autobiography is so persuasive, so convincing, because Maria del Carmen Tapia only reports on what she herself lived through and experienced."
-- La Republica, Venezuela

"A dispassionate and accurate description of the inner life of Opus Dei. The author's high position in the hierarchy of Opus Dei and her meticulous concern for detail make this the best book on Opus Dei."
-- A. Ugalde, Professor of Sociology, University of Texas-Austin

"When it came to the cause of beatification of Monsignor Escriva, Opus Dei...did everything to keep at bay the number of unfavorable witnesses. Special efforts were made to stifle the voice of Maria del Carmen Tapia."
-- La Reppublica, Italy

"The picture which the author paints of Opus Dei's founder...is far from that of the holy servant of God which his beatification proclaims him to be. She found him egocentric and self-absorbed, in addition to being authoritarian, haughty, and having a violent temper."
-- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"If it were not for the great intellectual sincerity that the entire book breathes, much of what we read here could seem exaggerated, as though drawn from experiences endured in the prison of a totalitarian regime. The book is exceptional...written without hatred but with great sensitivity."
-- Historia y Ciencias, Spain

"The insights that this book provides into the secrets of the Roman headquarters of Opus Dei -- from its secret-service-like membership list to the specific spirit of the founder of Opus Dei -- are unique. Whoever gets to know the founder through Maria del Carmen Tapia will also better understand Opus Dei: its rigorous asceticism, its shadowy financial practices, its indoctrination of fourteen-year-aids, and its strict segregation of its celibate men and women."
-- West German Radio

"[Tapia] portrays the cult which formed around [Escriva] during his life and shows how, in the so-called Work of God, the Founder is more spoken of than God or Christ. The book is absorbingly written."
-- South German Radio

"About Opus Dei everything always seemed bleak. But after reading Maria del Carmen Tapia's book, the bleakness acquires the face of fanaticism, misogyny, and a total absence of love....The book is a journey to the secret horror of facts that nobody dared to speak about but only the courage and astonishing memory of Maria del Carmen have been able to bring to light."
-- Presencia Ecumenica, Venezuela

"The book has provoked and still provokes great uneasiness inside and outside the strong Catholic organization of [Opus Dei]."
-- Il Mattino, Italy

"Here a highly sensitive woman describes in a highly detailed and unusually elegant manner, without hatred and with the distance of over twenty years, a religious madhouse by the name of Opus Dei, which she came to know intimately like few others."
-- Spiegel Spezial, Germany

"Maria del Carmen Tapia offers authentic insight into the personality and work of the founder of Opus Dei. She reveals unsparingly the truth about the churchly 'mafia,' from its questionable methods of recruitment to the psychic terror it practices on its members....A truly shocking document of contemporary church history."
-- Vereinigung fur Geschichte im offentlichen Leben, Germany

"A Disturbing indictment of the methods and ethos of Opus Dei, from a devout Catholic who spent 18 years in the organization and worked at its highest levels ... Avoding facile sensationalism, Tapia's relentlessly detailed chronicle shows how idealism can lead to the repression of basic human rights."
-- Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating and disturbing book ... a literary grenade seeking to blow apart Opus Dei's benign and exalted image ... a picture of an obsessively secretive, manipulative and sexist organization with a virtual cultlike veneration of its founder."
-- Boston Globe

"Tapia's book is a comprehensive account of the inner workings of the women's branch of Opus Dei. It should fascinate sociologists and feminists and contribute to needed self-criticism in the Roman Catholic Church ... A best seller in Spain and a success in Germany, Portugal and Italy, Tapia's book has important lessons not only for John Paul II and other Catholics, but for all who wish to see religion freed from the tyranny of self-proclaimed saints."
-- Christian Century

"The little I knew about Opus Dei before reading this book was enough to make me uneasy about the increasing strength and visibility of the organization in the Catholic church. Maria del Carmen Tapia's story deepened my wariness into something akin to dread. Her book, however, is not a cheap or sensational expose. It is the chronicle of an intelligent and sensitive woman who served the organization in responsible positions during her 18 year sojourn as a full member. Despite the inhumane treatment ... she suffered at the hands of superiors during her last year in Opus Dei, she writes no 'less from rancor than for the sake of historic justice.'"
-- National Catholic Reporter

"Opus Dei's cult-like characteristics are confirmed -- secrecy and deception as an integral part of its methods; the personality cult around the founder; the blind obedience demanded of members; isolation from the outside world; the powerful, highly organized hierarchy and, the ultimate goal, the relentless proselytism. All these are illustrated with the vivid inside knowledge that has been missing from previous studies of Opus. For the first time, Tapia puts on record the powerful internal culture, which, as in all cults, is beyond the reach of normal research because it is not written: it is the air that members breathe ... As well as being a fascinating read, this will undoubtedly remain an invaluable source book on the 'Work' for future students of its activities."
-- Conscience

Cover design by Bonnell Design Associations

Image

Maria del Carmen Tapia was born in Spain in 1925 and joined Opus Dei in 1948. She works in the system-wide office of the Education Abroad Program of the University of California in Santa Barbara.
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