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Opus Dei

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Latin phrase meaning “the work of God.” Originally the Benedictine name for the daily round of monastic services, it currently designates a movement within the Roman Catholic Church (see catholicism ) that encourages members to live out their faith in all areas of their everyday lives. It was founded in 1928 by a Spanish priest, Josemaría Escrivá (1902–75). He was initially mistrusted by the church hierarchy, and then forced into hiding during the spanish civil war . Following franco's victory, which Escrivá welcomed, the movement gained both elite and popular support and spread beyond the Iberian peninsula. Opus Dei now claims some 87,000 adherents, mainly lay persons, in over sixty countries – but secrecy over membership lists renders impossible any verification of numbers. In 1982 Pope john paul ii designated the organization as a personal prelature. This unique arrangement meant that all members, while still belonging to their local congregations, came under the jurisdiction of a single prelate rather than the diocesan bishop. In 2002 John Paul fast-tracked Escrivá's canonization. The movement's main activities have been in the realm of education, as exemplified by the operation since the 1960s of its own university at Pamplona. Opus Dei has incurred criticism for its secrecy, for its alleged tendency to infiltrate influential positions especially within the spheres of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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