A Deeper Look at Opus Dei, Christofascism, Misogyny & SCOTUS

Since the far-right wing cult in the Roman Catholic church known as “Opus Dei” has played such a prominent role in Leonard Leo’s life and in the current Supreme Court that he has fashioned, it seems fitting to take a closer look at the organization.

An investigation into the controversial Opus Dei sect, now extending its influence across the world. Journeyman Pictures

Christofascism is always steeped in misogyny.  So was the fascist founder of Opus Dei, Josemaría Escrivá, who was rushed into canonization shortly after he died.  Maria del Carmen Tapia wrote a tell-all book about Escrivá which became a best-seller in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.  The Boston Globe called it a picture of an obsessively secretive, manipulative, and sexist organization with a virtual cultlike veneration of its founder.

Tapia played significant roles in her 18 years with Opus Dei including working as Escrivá’s secretary for seven years.  She wrote about what she saw.  “There’s a constant sexual obsession within Opus Dei” she writes. 

Inside Opus Dei: The True, Unfinished Story by Maria Del Campia Tapia.

Beating of one’s body was encouraged as a spiritual practice and Tapia confessed that “I treated my body with brutality.”  At one meeting where Tapia was present, Escrivá raged and shouted to fellow priests, Take the one [woman], lift up her skirt, take down her panties, and whack her on the behind until she talks.  MAKE HER TALK!

He shouted at Tapia, You’re a wicked woman, sleazy, scum!  That’s what you are!  She endured many interrogations and “advisers” were stationed inside and outside her room who followed her even to the bathroom. She wrote, 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.

In her final meeting with Escrivá, he shouted at her, You are a seductress with all your immorality and indecency!. …You’re wicked!  Indecent!….Hear me well!  WHORE!  SOW!

Escrivá hated Vatican II and liberation theology and actually was heard to praise Hitler.  But two papacies, those of JPII and Benedict XVI, appointed numerous members of his sect as bishops and cardinals in South and North America. 

Handpicked for referral to the Supreme Court by Opus Dei operative Leonardo Leo: (L-R Top): justices Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, Samuel Alito (Bottom) Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett. Wikimedia Commons.

Many US bishops today are members or admirers of the sect and, because Opus Dei cozies up with the powerful, the sect holds outsize power in the American church.  With so many dioceses reeling financially from the priestly pedophile crisis, Opus Dei with its vast financial resources is enticing to many bishops.

Much of the antipathy to Pope Francis who dares to write about ecology, the poor and the dangers of excessive capitalism comes from this fascist wing of the church so well represented at SCOTUS.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Opus Dei,” in Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp. 106-124.

Banner Image: About 10,000 people attended a rally in Dublin in memory of Savita Halappanavar, who died following a miscarriage after being refused an abortion at University Hospital Galway in 2012. Her death catalyzed a revolution in Irish reproductive health laws. Photo by William Murphy on Flickr.


Queries for Contemplation

How disturbing is it to you to hear of the ideology behind the sect that has appointed six members of the current Supreme Court?  But how necessary is it that we know these facts and move beyond our collective naïvete?


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


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9 thoughts on “A Deeper Look at Opus Dei, Christofascism, Misogyny & SCOTUS”

  1. Avatar

    It has been very disturbing. It has been the turning point for my no longer being comfortable in the Catholic Church of America. Baptized and confirmed as a child, I never embraced all the doctrine or positions that are espoused but now I’m finished. The U.S. Catholic Church has embraced the political activism of the far right. They seek power and wealth
    and do not believe in a separation of church and state.
    This story is largely being ignored and needs to be told.
    Thank you Matthew.

  2. Avatar

    I enjoy Matthew‘s work, and the daily meditation in particular. From time to time there’s a tendency on the part of DM to go right up to the line of personalizing “judgment” complete with disparagement and character condemnation. As we analyze the Supreme Court, I would caution all of us to “mind the gap” that should always exist between our loving reaction to a reality, seemingly brought on by politics.

  3. Avatar

    Matthew, thank you again for reminding us of the history and ongoing corruption and lack of true Spirituality in the patriarchal Catholic Church and Vatican leadership (except for the recent Pope Francis). The societal/political influences of the right wing patriarchal Evangelical Churches in the US usually get more critical scrutiny than the same negative influences of the patriarchal conservative Catholic Church, so I’m glad you’ve also been a prophet of Truth about the Catholic Church for several years. The two reviews of your book, “The Pope’s War,” by Andrew Harvey and Jason Berry in today’s DM briefly summarize your spiritual struggle to advocate for the Truth: “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.”

    Matthew, your prophetic Truth and teachings in Creation Spirituality have sensitized me and others to the negative, destructive, and spiritually unbalanced influences of patriarchal societies and institutions in human history, except for the spiritually positive influences of the Divine Feminine in our ongoing history of mystics, Indigenous peoples, spiritual warriors of Love~Peace~Truth~Justice, and brave common people of compassion and Faith in our daily lives around the world….

  4. Avatar
    Gerald Walker

    I am very disappointed that Pope Francis has not condemned Opus Dei as a heretics sect, thereby expelling them from Christian fellowship and confronting their evil.

  5. Avatar

    Work of God. If Opus Dei is the work of God, then that God is not one I aspire to get to know better.

  6. Avatar

    We need to know the truth, even if it is very painful, and even if we feel overwhelmed by the evil actions of SCOTUS and others in positions of leadership. We can reach deep within and find the peace that passes all understanding and the forgiveness, for they know not what they do. We find peaceful ways of telling truth to power and search for communities that will do the same.

    1. Avatar

      She is not part of opus dei directly but indirectly insofar as Leonardo Leo pushed her on the supreme court as he did five other SCOTUS members. But women ARE part of Opus Dei as I quote from Tafia book.

  7. Avatar
    Xavier Velasco-Suarez

    I was a numerary member of Opus Dei for almost ten years. Maybe they managed to fool me completely. It’s not that what I read here is inaccurate; in more senses than one it’s the polar opposite of the Opus Dei I knew. I don’t know what to think. In the one hand, if anything that is written here about Opus Dei is one percent true, the unbelievable work of deception they did on me is on the level of a CIA+Mossad+MI5+KGB operation (all working in seamless cooperation). And not even… On the other hand, I cannot comprehend how or for what motivations can a person—reputedly a theologian, I understand…—so blatantly pack so many outrageous lies in such a short “meditation.” Can a single human heart carry within the staggering amount of hatred needed to spew so much aberrant slander? I find both options unbearably difficult to believe.

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