Opus Dei, American Catholic Bishops & Distorted Masculinity

Alas!  It is not just Protestant evangelicals who are working out of a distorted sense of masculinity these days. 

Pope Francis and President Biden meeting at the White House. The Pontiff has called the President “a good Catholic.”Photo by David Lienemann on Wikimedia Commons.

The Catholic Bishops this past week stepped back from the edge of declaring Catholic politicians who back Roe vs. Wade should not receive communion.  They watered down their declaration, thanks in part to interventions by the papal legate and indirectly by Pope Francis himself.

Many bishops wanted to continue to attack Biden, Pelosi and other democratic Catholic politicians.  I find some of the pronouncements of Archbishop Gomez, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference against Black Lives Matter, women’s rights and homosexuals deeply troubling.

Most troubling is that Gomez attended the Opus Dei university in Spain, was ordained a priest in that sect, and named “vicar” of Opus Dei in Texas in 1999.  He says his spirituality is rooted in Opus Dei.

What does that mean?  The media’s silence about Opus Dei is deafening. 

If I could sit down with Archbishop Gomez, I would ask him some questions:

Since you exited the seminary, have you expanded your theological mind beyond that of Opus Dei?

“Change of Franco government increased the power of Opus Dei July 15, 1965” Archival photo of Opus Dei members in General Franco’s cabinet on La Hemeroteca del Buitre. Photographer unknown.

What does it mean to you that the founder of Opus Dei, Escriva, was a mad misogynist as his woman secretary of seven years testified to in her book about him?

Are you bothered that Escriva was a card-carrying fascist priest and that Opus Dei members served on dictator Franco’s cabinet and in his administration for many years?

Can you reconcile Opus Dei and American democracy?

How is it that a devout Opus Dei member who worked in the FBI for many years became the greatest traitor in American history responsible for having more American spies murdered than anyone in history?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, How Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, chapter 6, “Opus Dei,” pp. 106-124.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Archbishop Jose Gomez at Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. Photo by Prayitno on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Meditate on how patriarchy often births organizations that carry the toxic masculine as intrinsic to their identity.  And these organizations link up with other power organizations and often succeed financially.  This is one way their “values” are perpetuated. What values do you prefer to those of Opus Dei?

Recommended Reading

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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22 thoughts on “Opus Dei, American Catholic Bishops & Distorted Masculinity”

  1. Avatar

    How can any organisation that wants to silence and shut down justice even begin to call itself spiritual?
    To me it seems the moment any organisation is “secret” it is exclusive.
    This is not what is required for these times.
    We might learn a lot here from the phrase “circular economy” used often by sustainability practitioners.
    What about circular spirituality, (saras circle as opposed to the ladder hierarchy so clearly highlighted by Opus Dei)
    A circular approach is always inclusive- it sees all it hears all voices regardless of age, gender, ethnicity , sexual orientation and faith tradition.
    The model and ethos Opus Dei use is not sustainable for these times and its certainly not just…

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Steve, thanks for your insightful comment. I would just add that Opus Dei is a extreme example of the hierarchal structure that the Church is built on–built on hierarchy, not so much on Peter, the rock who was both fallible and married. I have always loved Matthew’s contrast between Sarah’s Circle vs Jacob’s Ladder of climbing the hierarchy which he speaks of in detail in chapter 2 of his book, A SPIRITUALITY NAMED COMPASSION…

  2. Avatar

    I understand the importance of the prophetic voice to bring awareness to the darkness within humanity and the expressions and forms this takes. However, in all honesty, I would prefer more of a balancing within this prophetic voice to bring awareness to the light within humanity and the expressions and forms this takes.

    As of late, within these daily meditations, in my personal opinion there has been an imbalance of this, with a focus on mainly bringing awareness to the darkness. Why, for example in today’s message was so little spoken of Hildigard and her teachings on the virtues in relationship to masculinity, given simply a passing glance?

    Focusing mainly on the darkness, leaves me disinheartened, and this darkness then leads to other disempowering feelings and thoughts. I hope that the creators of these daily meditations are not offended by my comments today… as I felt I just needed to be honest about the effects the imbalance I have spoken of is having on me personally.

    1. Avatar

      Jeanette, the relationship to masculinity is seen between our Mother’s and Father’s at our birth. The female masculine role of service to the child and the males feminine role of presence is complementary in its sharing and switching roles. We were created both male and female and not male or female. The conjunction “and” keeps us aware of our female and male psychological embrace of both. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence.

  3. Avatar

    Exposing injustice without forgiveness, is unjust. Pursuing a positive activity of justice by example is the best path, for us to follow. It is observable that the world suffers from the lack of grown food and unconditional forgiveness. We have the ability to supply and share these basic physical and spiritual needs, with each other. We will then enjoy the way of compassionate living with all of Creation. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence.

  4. Avatar

    Who are you referring to?

    How is it that a devout Opus Dei member who worked in the CIA for many years became the greatest traitor in American history responsible for having more American spies murdered than anyone in history?

  5. Avatar

    When Jesus fiercely confronted the moneylenders in the Temple he didn’t balance his justified rage with a meditation on justice and love. His followers knew what he stood for from all of his previous parables and actions. Not reading Matthew’s meditation today in context with his full opus seems to miss the mark.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, I believe Jesus didn’t have to “balance his justified rage with a meditation on justice and love” because he was/is justice and love…

  6. Avatar

    Thank you so much for your courage to speak truth. I feel grateful for these truth telling meditations. I am 81 and I hope to learn and listen so I can share this wisdom with all ,especially my family. Blessings

  7. Avatar

    P>S> Jesus was confronting not only the moneylenders but the Temple elite as well, some of whom were in collusion with Rome’s elite. He was outraged at how their corruption was distorting the message of previous prophets and psalmists. They were worshipping ‘the Golden Calf’ at great cost to the Anawim.

  8. Avatar

    Christianity as an institution has always harbored darkness, death, and hatred. There were the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Reformation and the wars that resulted, the destruction of monasteries and Catholic clergy by Henry viii, the support of war in general, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco–the list is endless. Islam also has a bloody side. I believe that these horrors must be exposed and that we must learn how to deal with the reality. Maybe our love must be tougher, hard as it is. I read that now Black men and women are arming themselves at demonstration to protect protesters. Who knows where it will all end?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Yes there are all of the horrendous things you say, which were, and still are, being perpetrated by the Church(es), the question is what do you want to focus on. As is written in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time and a season for everything under heaven–a time to kill, a time to heal, etc.” And there is a time to look at the dark things in order to figure out how to deal with them, but then there is also a time to stand in the light. And I have a saying, “If you are seeing your shadow, its because you’re standing in the light.” So spend some time in the light! Yes, our love must be stronger, and yes the violence will continue. Jesus predicted that their would be “wars and rumors of wars,” with “nation rising against nation” and many of those those who followed him ended up dead in the arena, on crosses, torn by animals and gladiators. Jesus was saying that all of these things will continue until the “end” whenever that is. Let’s not have the attitude where I say, “Cheer up, things could be worse” and you say, “So I cheered up and sure enough things got worse.”

      1. Avatar

        Yes, the presence and essence of light is always present, and we are standing in it. However, when one turns one’s back to the light one sees the shadow, and standing this way too long, you begin to perceive that this is all there is. There must be a turning towards the light in order to leave these shadows, this darkness behind. Someone, once said, whom I can’t remember at this moment, something along the lines… that focusing on all the problems, the shadows, the darkness, merely hinders the solutions, the light from revealing itself. What you focus and turn towards matters.

        All the shadows and darkness that’s recently been focused on and discussed, I personally have no control to change. All I can do is take responsibility and stand accountable for my own choices, hopefully with the awareness of not only my own shadow and darkness, but also my light and the beauty and power of this as well.

        Martin Luther King Jr. said, that it’s not our darkness that we fear, but rather it’s the light within us that we fear to embrace. This is a fear I desire to face, so that I can embrace the light that is within me, so that I can learn to be present to its essence and presence at all times, no matter what shadows and darkness lies behind this reality.

        1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
          Richard Reich-Kuykendall

          Jeanette, My saying, “If you’re seeing your shadow, it’s because your standing in the light” in our context means simply, let us leave the darkness behind us, and stand in the light. Is there anything wrong with that?

  9. Avatar

    The values of dignity and respect need to be honored in all people. Respect as individual God-given souls, each unique and beyond simplistic categorizations such as “white/not-white, male/female, heterosexual/non-heterosexual, Catholic/Protestant, Christian/any other religion. None of these labels does justice to the complexities of individuals whom we assign to these groups. Patriarchy chooses winners and losers based on arbitrary distinctions of chosen ones in their favored category vs. conveniently oversimplified masses of humans grouped into stereotyped, dehumanized labels and then treated as less than human. It savages the dignity of all the souls whom it seeks to crush. It also erases the individuality of each of its chosen elect, thus diminishing their rights to respect as unique human beings as well. No one comes out ahead when anyone is treated as less worthy of respect.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Melinda, What can I say? You are right, “The values of dignity and respect need to be honored in all people. Respect as individual God-given souls, each unique and beyond simplistic categorizations such as “white/not-white, male/female, heterosexual/non-heterosexual, Catholic/Protestant, Christian/any other religion.”

  10. Avatar

    With the help of the prophetic and truth telling voice of Matthew’s Creation Spirituality, I have become more acutely aware of the destructiveness of patriarchy and patriarchal institutions, including many religious institutions, throughout human history. This is why the spirituality of many indigenous cultures and courageous/enlightened individuals past and present have been so important in our human evolution….

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