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Jan-Erik Andelin: "Opus Dei -- The Pope's Bold and Beautiful"
                          Opus Dei
               -- The Pope's Bold and Beautiful

This 30' documentary program was broadcast in
the TALKING HEADS series on Finnish TV1
nationwide television 7 November, 1995


         Today's TALKING HEADS deals with Opus Dei. Since some
         ten years, the Opus Dei is the Pope's personal prelature
         within the Roman Catholic church. It is a modern
         movement, that mainly attracts young people.


Soundbite of POPE JOHN PAUL II speaking at a gathering of young
people in Loreto, Italy in September 1995

         "Carissimi gioveni ..." (My beloved youngsters)


         How is the Catholic church able to gather such masses?
         It is a _different_ church, it has old-fashioned rules,
         and to many moral issues it takes a totally different
         stand than Western people in general do.

         A small Spanish priest, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer,
         came up with one solution. He founded a strong, powerful
         and half-secret society, where the members could devote
         themselves to their career and their own success.
         They are 80,000 and they are called numeraries and

         The movement is called Opus Dei.

PIARO (31), journalist in Rome, Italy
Status in Opus Dei: not a member

         They are very successful inside the Vatican, especially
         during the present Pope ... The members of Opus Dei
         consider themselves responsible Catholic lay people,
         who represent "the Church in the world". They don't
         wait for the priest to suggest to them what to do.

REPORTER'S stand-up in Madrid, Spain

         So if you don't trust the priests, you'll have to
         trust something else. Opus Dei is a religion that
         puts its trusts in university people, in scientists
         with a high education, in leading journalists, in
         people in the business world. Opus Dei was founded
         here in Spain.

ARANCHA (27), computer researcher in Valladolid, Spain
Status in Opus Dei:  numerary member

         I'm working with my doctoral thesis. It is about the
         use of expert systems to detect glaucoma. I apply
         different techniques related to artificial intelligence
         in the research of the human eye. I have studied Physics
         at the University of Valladolid and also at a university
         in the United States, Boston University.

JAVIER (31), computer researcher in Madrid, Spain
Status in Opus Dei:  ex-member

         In Opus Dei they use to talk about the "Apostolate
         of the head". They say that fishes and humans should
         be captured by their heads. So I think they chose me
         because I had very good notes in school.

         I came here when I was about 15. The place is called
         Club Arguelles, like this part of the city. There's
         no reference to Opus Dei in the name of the club,
         and in the phone directory it's likely they have a
         totally other name ... it can be the "Club of
         Accelerated Learning" or something of that kind. The
         name Opus Dei never appears in the clubs they run.

REPORTER introduces an Opus Dei centre in Valladolid, Spain

         This is a party at an Opus Dei centre in Spain. Many
         young people come to Opus Dei because they've got
         the best parties. Here you get to know other people
         who already belong to Opus Dei. Someone among them,
         usually someone at your own age, may finally become
         your spiritual director. That is a person who will
         know _everything_ about you.

"YOLI" (about 20), student somewhere in Spain
Status in Opus Dei:  ex-member

         [My spiritual director] was a very charming woman,
         she got along well with people, she was open, expressive
         and caring. Every time we met she kissed me and asked
         me how everything was going. In the end she was like
         my mother.

REPORTER introduces study rooms, tutoring at the Opus Dei centre:

         Others who are successful at school, or in their
         studies, feel good with Opus Dei. Here you get help
         to become even more successful.

JAVIER, ex-member

         They helped me a lot with my studies, and they gave
         me a pleasant environment where I could study. But
         soon I started participating in meditations and
         retreats, where we were isolated from the rest of
         the world for 2 or 3 days. You were not allowed to
         speak and you were supposed to listen to the spiritual
         directors and the priest all the time.

"YOLI", ex-member

         They got me into a situation, where I felt trapped.
         I could no longer get out. There was no return, because
         I knew that if I said "no", I would not be happy, I
         would be a selfish person. In fact they created a
         situation, where I felt guilty.

         So I thought that if God had given me some qualities,
         then I was supposed to use them. I had no choice. So
         I made up my mind, and I wrote The Letter.

REPORTER introduces Opus Dei headquarters in Rome

         The letters that many finally write, end up here, in
         Rome. This is Opus Dei's world headquarters. Escrivá
         de Balaguer moved here in order to be close to the
         Vatican. All members of Opus Dei have written a personal
         letter to him, or to his successor, to become members.

         Escrivá de Balaguer's teachings are simple:  just be
         good at what you are doing; that's good enough for
         God. Successful and rich Catholics liked this. Only
         17 years after Escrivá de Balaguer's death in 1975,
         he was beatified in St. Peter's Square in Rome in
         1992, with the support of influential Catholics. The
         beatification is a step in the process of becoming a

POPE JOHN PAUL II speaks at Escrivá de Balaguer's beatification
ceremony in 1992

         The day of June, 26th shall always be celebrated in
         memory of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer ... in the
         name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

ARANCHA, numerary member

         The Founder [of Opus Dei] is my Father, or I consider
         him to be my father. I have really learned a lot from
         his teachings and from his life ... He wasn't a person
         who said one thing and did the other; he had incarnated
         the Opus Dei spirit in himself.

REPORTER introduces tomb church and crypt of Escrivá de Balaguer
in Rome

         Below the Opus Dei headquarter in Rome, there is a
         crypt and and a church. Here Josemaría Escrivá de
         Balaguer is buried. People kiss small pictures of him.

JUAN (31), Spanish medical doctor, studying in Rome
Status in Opus Dei: numerary member

         Opus Dei is an institution of the Church. We revere
         the Pope, the Roman pontifex as the Vicar of Christ
         on Earth. It's important to follow the person who
         represents Christ. If you do that you know that you
         follow the Lord.

         - Are you a Fundamentalist ?


REPORTER introduces consecration of 54 Opus Dei priests in
Saint Eugenio's church in Rome

         The present leader of Opus Dei, Javier Echevarria
         consecrates new priests for Opus Dei. It's not just
         anybody who can become one of the few Opus Dei priests.
         Among these men there are former medical doctors,
         computer experts, business managers, consultants and

JUAN, numerary member

         I want to become a priest, because I want to serve
         the Church and Opus Dei according to God's will. I
         have come to Rome to complete my studies of Theology.
         First you have to have a master's degree in Theology,
         and then one in Philosophy. Then I will maybe write
         a a doctoral thesis.

JAVIER, ex-member

         Another thing that limited my freedom very much, and
         which controlled my mind, was that I wasn't allowed
         to read any book I liked. 

         All books are checked. They are indexed in their own
         category:  some books you may read freely, others
         you may read only after consulting your director.
         Some of the books you can read only after reading an
         "antidote", as they say, first. And then there are
         books that you are not allowed to read at all. Of them
         they only have a review or a digest, like for instance
         "The Capital" by Marx. I needed that book for my
         studies, but I could only read it as a summary, compiled
         by Opus Dei.

"YOLI", ex-member

         In Opus Dei, I think they practically control
         everything. It starts from them talking to you a lot,
         just to find out what you think about the most different
         things. Then they start giving you ideas about how a
         numerary member should act, think and reason.

         Then there is also the emotional control. They try
         to control your feelings, they say that you are supposed
         to hold back your feelings and not to be too
         spontaneous, to have a "reticent and guarded heart".

JAVIER, ex-member

         In Opus Dei they say that the customs oblige more
         than the norms. There are really many norms -- hundreds
         of them -- in Opus Dei.

         One of the customs is the "weekly chat". Once a week
         you have to tell _everything_ to your director, even
         the most intimate thoughts you may have. That's a
         form of control, because the director knows everything
         about you. He, in his turn, gives a report to his
         superiors and so it goes on upwards. In the end, the
         highest superior has a very clear idea about everything
         about every member.

"YOLI", ex-member

         They also control all forms of information. They
         controlled my letters. When I wrote letters to my
         family and to my friends, I had to hand them in at
         the centre. And when I received letters, they were
         already opened and somebody had read them.

ANA (29) director of an Opus Dei centre in Valladolid
Status in Opus Dei: numerary member

         I don't think I like the the term "spiritual director",
         because it suggests that we are trying to steer people
         in a certain direction.

         - But we _know_ that the girls here at this centre
         have spritual directors. How many of the girls are
         yours ?

         In Opus Dei, eh, at this centre there are 40 students,
         of which 15 are members of Opus Dei. They all talk
         to me, anytime they want to themselves.

REPORTER introduces dance party at an Opus Dei centre

         At this party there are only girls. At an early stage,
         Opus Dei separates boys from girls, men from women.
         Many of these girls live -- or will live -- in celibacy.
         When you join Opus Dei as a numerary member, you will
         never have an economy of your own, or a family. As a
         woman you will never have any relationship to a man

ARANCHA, numerary member

         Of course, the natural thing is wanting to be married.
         I had that idea, too -- before I learned to know the
         Opus Dei. But then I realized that in Opus Dei I could
         fulfill all my ideals. I understood that God needed
         people to spread the message of Opus Dei, the things
         that had inspired our Founder. God needed people who
         lived without family ties, who could move around to
         different places freely, to start up The Work in
         different countries. I just realized I could do this
         in order to help so many more people.

REPORTER introduces non-celibate category of members

         There are also Opus Dei members who live ordinary
         lives, with families and children. They are called
         _supernumeraries_. Alicia and Leopoldo belong to this
         category of members.

ALICIA (30), medical doctor in Valladolid
Status in Opus Dei:  supernumerary member

         We pray half an hour in the morning, and half an hour
         in the evening; we pray the Rosary. Then we read
         spiritual literature for a quarter of an hour every
         day -- we read a spiritual book 10 minutes, and the
         Gospel 5 minutes.

         Then, once a week we have a study circle, or a meeting,
         where we meet other people of Opus Dei. Once a month
         we have a 3 days retreat and once a year we have a
         get-together with other supernumeraries and numeraries
         for 6 days. There you really learn to know the spirit
         of Opus Dei better.

LEOPOLDO (30), heart surgeon
Status in Opus Dei: supernumerary member

         I'm a medical doctor, specifically a heart surgeon.
         I am mainly doing surgery. In principle I'm performing
         one operation every day. Sometimes I also teach or
         do research, but usually I have one patient every day.

         If you're a Catholic, you must accept everything that
         is part of that religion. So being a part of this
         religion means a few things like accepting the authority
         of the Pope and of the Church's teachings. The Church's
         teachings are usually very clear. There is no Catholic
         fundamentalism:  you are either a Catholic, or then
         you're not.

         A Catholic who is in favour of abortion is, for
         instance, no real Catholic, even if the person concerned
         confesses the Catholic faith. If I as a Catholic want
         to be a member of the Catholic church, then I must
         accept the teachings of the Church. You can't just
         keep the things you like and forget about the rest.
         There is no Catholic fundamentalism, and there is no
         fanatic defence of the faith; either you defend it,
         or then you don't.

         Talking about contraceptives, and human interference
         and all that stuff ... I don't say that if you can
         conceive children from you're 14 until you're 80,
         then you should have seventy kids. No, I say that
         you must act responsibly. I'm talking about responsible
         parenthood. You should have the children you can take
         care of.

         - And for the rest you should be abstinent ?

         No, no. There is a list of numerous natural methods,
         because the woman is a well-constructed machine. We
         know her physiology quite well, and it's possible to
         handle it in a way which is quite satisfactory to
         the consumer.

Voice of Finnish TV commentator introducing Isaac Viciosa of
Spain, silver medallist on 1,500 m at European Athletics'
Championships in Helsinki 1994, 

ISAAC (27), athlete
Status in Opus Dei: supernumerary

         And then there was Helsinki in 1994, which was a
         culmination [of my career]. Well, there was another
         Spaniard who won the race, but it was a big success
         that there were two Spanish runners coming in first.
         When 60,000 people cheer in a stadium, like they did
         in Helsinki, then you may be struck by pride and think
         "I'm the best ! Nobody beats me !"

         But my outlook on life is to give thanks to God instead.
         "This means very much to me, but still it's nothing",
         I thought. "I'm still the same old guy and this only
         helps me to pay tribute to God". So this is my way
         of life.

         - Is there anything in Opus Dei for people who are
         not so excellent ?

         Well, my coach is a simple man, who repairs domestic
         appliances. But he taught me what Opus Dei is all
         about. I know many people [in Opus Dei], who are
         unemployed, students who are not so brilliant, even
         though they work hard.

         But of course, we are the people who draw the attention.
         When I started training I was just an ordinary guy,
         and today I'm an athlete of the élite, and people
         notice me. But I was a member of the Opus Dei long
         before that. We, who are in the public, are just the
         top of the iceberg. In Spain there has been other
         persons in that same position -- ministers, finance
         people and so on.

REPORTER introduces characteristics of supernumeraries,
including first Finnish supernumeraria girl arriving at Madrid

         It is said that the supernumeraries are the ones who
         keep Opus Dei going. Leading Catholics with families,
         careers and money, in industry, financing and banks,
         take care of Opus Dei, so that it will never be poor.

         Many people travel to Spain to learn more about Opus
         Dei. One of them is Maarit from Helsinki. At home,
         Maarit has told her family that she will go to Spain
         to study Spanish. But she will also attend Opus Dei
         courses. Her family doesn't know that she is a member. 

MAARIT (21), former post office clerk from Helsinki
Status in Opus Dei: supernumerary

         I got in touch with [Opus Dei] for the first time in
         Finland. At that time I wanted to go to Sweden, and
         I heard they were there, too. So, in Sweden I learned
         to know what Opus Dei is;  about their spirituality,
         and about the Catholic church.

         At the Opus Dei centre they give me my spiritual life,
         they help me with it. I tell them how I have fulfilled
         my norms during the week, if I have been doing my
         prayers well, if I have done the Rosary well. If I
         haven't been able to do them well, we usually discuss
         some other solution. Then we discuss if there is
         something in my life I should struggle harder with. 

         We also talk about whether I have learned to know
         any new people. It's not that we proselytize ... we
         just give people the chance to get to know Opus Dei.
         Then it's up to them, and God, whether they have a
         vocation or not.

"YOLI", ex-member

         Another obsession [in Opus Dei] is [recruiting]
         _people_. They give you a lot of training how to
         approach people and what to tell them. Everything is
         strictly planned. There are special training courses
         on how to recruit new people, how to treat them and
         what questions they may ask you.

         In the beginning, when I joined Opus Dei, everybody
         seemed to be very happy with their lives. But when I
         moved to the centre, I noticed that there were people
         who where tired and listless. A good friend of mine
         got ill, she had a depression and she had to take
         depressants and tranquilizers.

         Then I happened to have room-mates, who studied very
         hard, and many of them were not well either. They
         were very tired, they had to go to bed earlier than
         usual, and they got up later in the mornings. So I
         got sceptical myself, and soon I didn't fell well
         either, not even physically.

REPORTER introduces practices of mortification and self-
-flagellation in Opus Dei

         In Opus Dei you are supposed to sacrifice yourself
         for others. You also sacrifice your own body like
         Jesus Christ did. There are members of Opus Dei who
         whip themselves once a week. Members also use this 
         instrument of mortification, which is called the

JAVIER, ex-member

         A cilicio is an instrument of mortification. It's a
         metal chain which looks like a dog collar. You put
         it around your thigh, and it has got spikes inside
         that  cut into your flesh. You use the cilicio 2 or
         3 hours every afternoon, during your studies. When
         you get seated, you are instructed to put your weight
         on the cilicio, and the spikes cut into your leg. And
         when it hurts you say to yourself "I offer this pain
         for Pepe, for Juan, for Antonio, so that they would
         join [Opus Dei]".

         I was really surprised once when I saw young people,
         16 or 17 years old, queuing up in front of the toilet
         to get their cilicios, that where stored in a sort
         of sanitary case. I will never forget the sight of
         those young people queuing up for their cilicios like
         other people queue up for the going to a movie.

         In the end, I couldn't live without my cilicio. A
         friend of mine asked why I still stayed with Opus
         Dei, and I told him: "Look, I experience things there
         that must be of the Holy Spirit, because they can't
         be of this world."

         When I left Opus Dei, I was informed that the
         mortification produces a lot of adrenaline in your
         body. Adrenaline again has a composition very similar
         to mescaline, which is a hallucinogen. Then it also
         makes your body secrete serotonine, which is a substance
         very similar to LSD.

"YOLI", ex-member

         I know what I experienced with Opus Dei, and I also
         know how I feel now. But I don't know what is the
         final purpose of Opus Dei as an organisation. Even
         though I was a member, there are many thing I don't

ARANCHA, numerary member

         - Would you say you are a happy person ?

         Totalmente feliz. (I'm totally happy.)


Jan-Erik Andelin
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