I never joined Opus Dei. I was never asked to join Opus Dei. Yet Opus Dei is the cause of personal tragedy in my life. My husband and I are involved in the pro-life movement. Several years ago we were asked to raise money for a pro-life legal case that involved women pro-life protesters who were abused by police and jail gaurds. We were not plaintiffs in the case, but were pressured by others to help out by raising money to pursue a legal action against the police and jail gaurds and the local government. We were to have donations sent to our address by placing ads in Catholic papers and sending out letters. The money went to a lawyer I will call Bill (not his real name), and an organization I will call the legal center. We were told Bill was a brilliant attorney who was earning a lot of money but had given all that up to devote himself to pro-life. He would use his considerable legal talents to benefit the pro-life movement. We were told he even lost his house as a result of his pro-life work. It turns out this legal center is run by an Opus Dei supernumerary. We have every reason to believe that Bill is also Opus Dei. However, we didn't know that at the time took the case. After we raised the amount Bill and the legal center asked for we stopped raising money. We were then pressured to continue. Sad stories were told of how Bill had given everything to the pro-life work, how he was now in debt, how he was so sacrificial. We were told we would be allowed to take a small percentage of the proceeds to help in our expenses. We decided to use this money to hire my brother to use a computer we gave him to help us with the fund raising. My brother, I will call him J, was a deeply troubled man. Though highly intelligent, he was emotionally unstable, and occasionally in psychiatric treatment. He could not hold down a job. We hoped that by giving him this work, he would be influenced by the lawyer and others who had devoted themselves to following Christ at great personal sacrifice. J never met Bill or any of the other people involved in this case. But J worked diligently for five years raising money to feed the constant demands of the lawyer. J surprised us by being such a hard worker. J was competent, dedicated, intelligent and effective. One day J brightly told me how pro-life he was. It was obvious that he was excited about his work, and moved by people's generosity in supporting our cause. He told us he was against all killing, including abortion, war, and the death penalty. This is what me and my husband thought: We have saved J. We have given him a purpose in life. We have given him something to believe in, an accomplishment to be proud of. He is doing a great service for a good cause, and has wonderful examples like Bill to follow. He even has a way to earn a little money. J now feels good about himself. We thought it was only a matter of time before J became a practicing Christian, and we hoped he would use his new found faith to help him conquer his feelings of anger and despair. We hoped that this would help him overcome his drinking. But through it all J struggled with his mental problems. He constantly had to drag himself out of a pit of despair; just to go on living was an act of supreme courage. He would try to overcome his drinking and gambling, but often fell off the wagon. Nevertheless, it was clear to us that his work on behalf of a good cause was something very positive in his life. Here let me compare the two men: Bill the Opus Dei lawyer, and J the social outcast. Bill was well educated, devout, kind, soft spoken and gentlemanly. J was often harsh, used profanity, drank, gambled and couldn't seem to get along with others. That is what we saw on the outside of the two men. But what was really on the inside? Finally the case came to trial, after Bill had dragged it on for two extra years. We had told him we wanted it to come to trial soon, but he did things to extend the case. All the while we were paying him thousands of dollars every month. What happened before, during and after the trial was a total shock and caused the scales to fall from our eyes. To sum up: Bill had not prepared the case for trial at all. After seven years and over $200,000 we had no case at all. Bill and another lawyer with the legal center, (I will call him Fred) tried to bully our plaintiffs into settling with out trial, to cover the fact that Bill had not prepared the case. Some of our plaintiffs settled, but two chose to go to trial. The trial was a fiasco. Bill would not help out in any way. He was practically uninvolved, walked about with a lost and vacant look on his face and wore the same clothes in court for the 11 days of trial. Fred, who was supposed to present our case in court, also had only the slightest idea what the case was about. He was not informed or prepared. He acted like a buffoon in court. His outrageous and unprofessional behavior caused our side to be humiliated in the press. We did not even have any witnesses because Bill had refused to file the proper papers to get them admitted to court! I know this, because I have a letter from Bill to the opposing attorney stating that he knows the procedure for admitting witnesses but won't do it. This was terribly upsetting to all involved, including my brother. He cried out about Bill, "He's a fraud and a deceit!" J was hurt and angry that he had spent five years believing in something and raising so much money for a fraud. After the trial, I carefully went over the case with two different attorneys. One is very familiar with the case and the other is a senior partner in a large well respected law firm. Both came to the same conclusion: Bill had wrecked the case. The senior partner called it the "worst case of legal malpractice" he had ever seen. Bill did everything he could to ruin the case. Every action he took, from how it was filed to how it was written, undermined the case. He missed every opportunity to strengthen the case. His entire manner of handling it was, in the words of the senior partner, "bizarre" and unprofessional. We had completely trusted Bill. We are not lawyers, so while he was handling the case, we assumed he was honest, capable, hardworking and professional, and we let him do as he wished. I also spoke to other pro-lifers who had had Bill and Fred and the legal center represent them. They all had similar stories of how their cases were handled. The pattern is the same, Bill would ignore his clients wishes, would refuse to do things his clients asked them to do while telling them he would, in short, all his actions undermined their cases. This is true also of Fred. The end result is that the opposing side got off scot free. I should add that Bill in not a bumbling, incompetent fool unable to persuade. Bill is very driven and seems to have a purpose. He is manipulative and gets others to do things they don't really want to do. Yet he always uses his powers of pursuasion against pro-lifers, not our opponents. He and the others in the legal center skillfully use his public image of a man devoted to the cause, kind, soft spoken, highly successful and intelligent yet sacrificing all for the benefit of pro-life, and with this image he convinces pro-lifers to give up and even to pay money to abortionists. He takes their legal cases and ruins them. We were betrayed. Completely betrayed. This is what I found out in the months after the trial through careful investigation and analysis.I was devastated. My world crumbled around me. People who I admired, who I thought were following Christ, had betrayed us. They had lied to us. They had used us. I stopped going to church. I stopped eating. Everything seemed pointless. I wondered what I would ever believe in again. How could somebody who went to daily mass, was in pro-life for 30 years and was so pious be so two sided? How could he be surrounded by people who promoted him and supported him when he had wronged so many others? My brother was also devastated. Can you imagine? All of his beliefs, his greatest accomplishment, what he was so proud of, turned out to be false. J was an emotionally weak man. He began to drink and gamble more heavily. He was like a drowning man grasping at straws. He was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of betrayal. He never got back on his feet. My brother killed himself three months after the trial. His last act was to tear apart the computer he had used for so many years raising money for the "good cause" of the legal center. There are consequences to "holy coercion." There are consequences to lies, to betrayal. Many people do not have the emotional strength to overcome betrayal. Bill, I am certain, only did what Opus Dei told him to do. Opus will use any means to further its power and agenda. This requires money, and they will use others to get it. Bill thinks of himself as well on the road to sainthood. He thinks of himself as a kind and gentle person, who only did everything he could to further Opus Dei, the "work of God." So let me go back to the two men, Bill and J. Who would you rather meet in a dark alley? A lawyer who is kind, polite, intelligent, devout and tells you he has devoted his life to a worthy cause, or my brother, stumbling out of a bar after too much to drink. Anybody, not knowing any better, would choose the lawyer. That was our fatal mistake. We involved my brother in our cause to expose him to this lawyer and others like him who we thought were examples of people who served Christ in their lives. We hoped to turn my brother towards a life of service to Christ. What J saw in the end was deceit and betrayal, not only of himself personally but of the cause they claimed to believe in. The issue isn't whether Opus Dei is conservative or liberal. The issue isn't their ideology, religious practices or devotions. I count myself as a very conservative, orthodox catholic. I do not disagree with much of what people in Opus claim to believe in. The issue is how they control people, through psychological manipulation and deceit. They control both people who join and others outside the Opus who they find useful to manipulate. People in the Opus believe that by increasing the power of Opus in many ways, such as financial, in influence and in numbers, they are increasing the power of God in the world. This is the flaw-- they mistakenly identify the Opus with God. But that implies a limitation on God, the allmighty. God reigns over heaven and earth and does not need Opus Dei to accumulate power on His behalf. Nor had God led or ordered any human organization to accumulate power and influence. All power accumulated by Opus is ultimately power for a human institution, not the Divine. Who would Christ have met in the dark alley? Read the Gospels and you will know who. He called the polite, kind, clean, successful Pharisees a "brood of vipers." He sought the outcasts of society like my brother. The Pharisees had found their "perfect path" to heaven, and so their hearts were closed. The hearts of the nobodies, the sinners, the poor and the sick were at least partially open. Who ultimately betrayed Jesus? The Pharisees, in an alliance with worldly power (the Romans). Words are easy. What does it take to talk? All it takes is sucking in some air and vibrating the vocal chords. Anybody can say they are following the way to God. But as Jesus said, "you shall know them by their fruits." Bill (and others in Opus) is a person who finds a group that he thinks will show him the true good path to God, and all he has to do is follow what they say. All he has to do is say what they say, and words become even easier. It is a mere physical act, a programmed response. It should not surprise people that Opus Dei members are very friendly, charming, polite, concerned and caring. They are only doing what they are told, repeating what is told them. They have given their hearts to the Opus. They think that is a good thing. This means, however, that their own hearts are not in what they do or say. It means they haven't got a heart. If their hearts are closed, they don't care how their actions affect others, only how they affect the Opus. They have no conscience. The group, Opus Dei, is their conscience. As long as they follow the group in obedience, they are "good." They say their prayers, attend mass daily, mouth all the proper words, fast and resist the temptations of the flesh, and all the while they will use, abuse, deceive and betray others on behalf of Opus. With a smile, of course. Opus Dei functionaries ultimately betray the causes they claim to believe in (pro-life, morality, even Christianity itself). Their ultimate aim is not these causes, but making Opus Dei more powerful. It is like a great beast that eats people for strength. Betrayal is the mark of the beast. Remember who betrayed Jesus.
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