Opus Dei, an official institution of the Catholic Church, at the top is a secret society of international bankers, financiers, businessmen and their supporters. Their goal is the same as other plutocrats – unbridled power – except they use the influence of the Catholic Church and its worldwide network of institutions exempt from both taxes and financial reporting to advance rightwing parties and governments.
A year after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s elevation as head of the Church and his many appointments, the dust has settled. Three cardinals have emerged as the most powerful in this papacy; all have close ties to Opus Dei. Two now control all Vatican finance.
Still the most exhaustively researched book written about “The Work” as it is referred to by its members, Their Kingdom Come (1997, 2006) by Robert Hutchison, a Canadian financial journalist, traces the growth of Opus Dei financial power “by all available means” – deception, dirty tricks, even “physical muscle” like poisonings which mimic heart attacks. “What gives Opus Dei its importance is the influence it wields and also that it deploys its immense financial resources…Opus Dei knows very well that money rules the world,” Javier Sainz Moreno, professor of Law at Madrid University, told Hutchison. One of their goals was to control the Vatican’s wealth, now closer than ever to being realized.
Like many religious cults, the members at the bottom are sincere believers that Opus Dei the path to personal holiness. Many are “numeraries,” men and women vowed to celibacy who live in communal residences and hand over their earnings to the organization. This creates workers totally dedicated to their assigned tasks, assures a steady stream of revenue and makes it difficult for members to leave. “Supernumeraries” are married and live independently but are still required to make large contributions and send their children to Opus Dei schools if available. At all levels, the names of the lay members are secret unless self-disclosed. Opus Dei also has an order of publicly identified priests and prelates.
Opus Dei’s only “charity” is founding schools, mostly business schools and student centers at the world’s leading universities to train and recruit a continuous supply of professionals dedicated to Opus Dei/Catholic goals. Opus Dei is “significantly connected to 479 universities and high schools,” according to journalist Michael Walsh based on a confidential report submitted to the Vatican in 1979.
Opus Dei’s flagship university is in Navarre, Spain. Its graduate business school, IESE, founded in 1958, “has growing alliances in key areas such as Latin America, China and Eastern Europe, campuses in Barcelona, Madrid, and New York City and teaching facilities in Munich and Sao Paulo,” according to a 2012 report in the Economist. They also operate a global network of MBA schools per Bloomberg.
Probably Opus Dei’s largest financial institution is Banco Santander S.A., “the largest bank in the Eurozone by market value and one of the largest banks in the world in terms of market capitalization.” Santander funds Opus Dei schools. “Santander’s interest in higher education is a deep interest, long term, because we understand that at the university are studying the leaders who will run the country in the future,” explained a company official.
“Opus Dei pursues the Vatican’s agenda through the presence of its members in secular governments and institutions and through a vast array of academic, medical, and grassroots pursuits. Its constant effort to increase its presence in civil institutions of power is supported by growth in the organization as a whole….Their work in the public sphere breaches the church-state division that is fundamental to modern democracy,” wrote Gordon Urquhart author of The Pope’s Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church (1995).
“It’s widely known that Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas belong to Opus Dei – and that Chief Justice John Roberts may also be a member,” stated Matthew Fox, a former priest, progressive theologian and author of more than 23 books.
“They’re in the CIA, the FBI,” said Fox. “Daniel Ellsberg recently told me that some of the ranking commanders of our military are also Opus Dei,” Fox stated in another interview. Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh made a similar observation. “Hersh stated that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Vice Admiral William McRaven and others in the Joint Special Operations Command (the group responsible for the assassination of Osama Bin Laden) were members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei. ‘They see themselves as protecting [Christians] from the Muslims….And this is their function.’ Hersh added that members of these societies have developed a secret set of insignias that represent ‘the whole notion that this is a culture war between religions.’”
The New York Times noted in 2012 that an Opus Dei boy’s prep school “has become the popular school for a small clique of Washingtonians”: Rick Santorum; lobbyist and former U.S. Senator (R-FL), Mel Martinez; Sect. of Defense Chuck Hagel; the infamous FBI spy and Opus Dei member Robert Hanssen’s boss, former FBI director Louis J. Freeh; NOM founder Maggie Gallagher and National Review editor Kate O’Beirne.
Fox said that both Santorum and Newt Gingrich are members but that doesn’t guarantee Opus Dei/Catholic Church backing. These organizations will support whichever Republican candidate has the best chance of winning regardless of his religious affiliation. That’s why the endorsement by five former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican of Mitt Romeny in early January 2012 before the primaries signaled that “big money” had already chosen the GOP presidential nominee.
Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor closely associated with Opus Dei, changed the landscape of U.S. politics. Neocon politico Deal Hudson stated that “If there really is a vast, right-wing conspiracy, its leaders probably meet in George’s basement.” Referred to by the New York Times as “the country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker,” it was George’s study conducted in the late 1990s showing that allegiance to the Republican Party depended not so much on religious affiliation as the frequency of church attendance which Karl Rove used to direct support for George W. Bush into pulpits, church bulletins, parking lot pamphlets and mailing lists taken from parish rosters.
After the Religious Right lost the 2008 Presidential Election, it was George who drafted the November 2009 Manhattan Manifesto introducing the theme of “religious liberty” as the new battle cry for the 150 Christian leaders who signed it. “We see [the struggle for religious liberty] in the use of antidiscrimination statutes to force religious institutions, businesses, and service providers of various sorts to comply with activities they judge to be deeply immoral….We view [restrictions on the free exercise of religion] as an ominous development, the overweening authority of the state,” they declared.
George is NOM (National Organization for Marriage) board chairman emeritus. “NOM, the Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus are responsible for funding nearly 65 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State and Maine.”
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) and supernumerary declared last month that liberal and women’s studies professors should be “taken out and shot.” He had previously called for the murder of Hillary Clinton.