I found your website on Opus Dei extremely interesting and it reminded me of the activities of an Opus Dei group at my university when I was a college student several years ago. I went to small (approx 3000 undergraduate students) Catholic liberal arts university in Texas and never heard of Opus Dei until my second year. Now I consider myself a very liberal Catholic, as were all my friends. A close friend of mine worked part time in the university president's office as part of her financial aid package to pay for college expenses. There she became acquinted with some of the clerical staff who had been at our university for years. The women in the office cautioned her about joining a campus student organization called Opus Dei (you see, we were all studying to get into medical school and academically were well known on campus) which might want the likes of us in their group to add "legitamacy"- after all, there were no science majors or pre-medical students in the group at the time. My friend passed this information along to the rest of us, and over the course of the nest several months, we began to build a picture of what Opus Dei was all about- and frankly, it scared the hell out of us. As you describe, they were very much a cult and very much contradictory to what I was raised to believe as a Catholic. The group was made up of upper middle class to affluent students who were generally conservative in their politics. What we found sinister (espcially since I am Oriental ) was that the group included not a single minority student. Several of the group's student leaders were closet white-supremacists (several of us managed to get a good look at their bookshelves and were quite shocked to find books with titles like "The White Man's Way" and other racist literature right next to The Way). Membership was based upon whom the group wanted as one of their own. Usually one or two of the more charismatic members of the group would approach you in the library, in your dormitory, or at a local place frequented by the student body. And they never actually asked if you wanted to join- they would befriend you and then weeks down the road after establishing you as a possible asset to the group, would invite you to prayer meeting or bible study group one evening. By that point you probably had already met a few other members, so you would figure this would be an evening among friends rather than predators. Group meetings were never publicized or known to non-members. Several of the university faculty were also members- supoosedly they had joint ownership of a large home in a wealthy neighborhood near the campus in which the group met. My friends and I, however, were not able to confirm this but we had a significant amount of second-hand accounts. Often weekend retreats would be held at this house off-campus (we did note the absence of known members on certain weekends) and from what we've heard, males and females were separated from each other and stayed in different parts of the house. Ritualistic self-mortification would occur- from self-flagellation to sleeping on wooden boards- part of their belief in the evils of the human body and it's desires. One individual related to us how the women often had to wear something called a "scolex" which was like a small belt which you wore around your upper thigh which had inward-pointing spikes meant to cause extreme discomfort during the course of the weekend retreat. It wasn't enough that this group of students and faculty engaged in these perverse activities. Often, deceit, lying, and character assassination were used to forward the group's agenda and protect their secrecy. Approximately a year before we became aware of the group, a female student was date-raped by a member. When she threatened to name names and expose the group, stories were fabricated about her "sexual lewdness" which eventually ruined her reputation and credibility. She eventually lost her campus job as part of Opus Dei's efforts to discredit her and protect themsleves. During my third year, the campus newspaper did a feature on homosexuality and the gay community's rocky relations with the Church. This, as you might imagine, ruffled a lot of Opus Dei members, which we later found out included the university president. The editor of the campus paper lost his job and was threatend with expulsion- he saved himself from being kicked out by taking his story to a local newspaper which ran an article blasting the university for restricting free speech. Although Opus Dei was never mentioned in the article, the sudden attention forced them to back off. the faculty sponsor of the newspaper, an individual I admired and respected as open-minded and briliant, was forced from his position as faculty sponsor and replaced with a professor who was conservative and by some sources, an Opus Dei member. Later that year the professor who was the previous faculty sponsor left our university to teach in Oregon. Many of us believe he was really fired or threatened. Whatever the case may be, a good number of openly gay students were threatened later on and many subsequently transferred to other universities. I applaud your efforts to expose Opus Dei for who they really are. Unfortunately for us as college students, we were unsure who our allies were when we discussed exposing the campus group. There still are rumors of particular faculty members and university employees who see it as their duty to prevent Opus Dei from dominating the university. I applaud their efforts as well. My university was a great place with many great indivduals committed to open-mindedness and tolerance. For them and those like me, I'm writing you about what we found out as young, idealistic college students. Catholic means "universal". One of our Church's greatest strengths has been its moderation and tolerance. Opus Dei threatens all that I hold sacred about my faith. The beatification of Josemaria Escriva troubles me, and I understand the Jesuits are fighting his cannonization. Personally, I find his views and the views of the group absolutley heretical. I worry about the future of the church with elements like Opus Dei present- to me, they are a cancer in the body of the Catholic Church.
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