The M+G+R Foundation

The Existence of Opus Dei in the Roman Catholic Church

A Church within the Church?


The purpose of this document is to enumerate the characteristics of Opus Dei by which this institution could be objectively qualified as a parallel Church within the Church.


In 1982, Josemaria Escriva’s “Work” (1)(2) was specially blessed by John Paul II when this Pope granted it a unique status in the form of a “Personal Prelature”.

This was effectively confirmed as a Papal protection for them to continue to function as a parallel Church within the Church – in the full sense of the term:

A parallel way, since they claim for themselves the "particular" mission of “sanctifying work” (which is almost as general as “sanctifying your life”), implying that other Christians would be off the right way to do it (or it would not be necessary to create a specific organization for this).

• Symbolically, his determination on this “parallel way” is sealed when the title of Escriva’s most revered work is called “Camino” (in English, more explicitly: “The Way”) – an affront to Christ, who declared Himself to be the One and Only Way [John 14:6].

• A parallel hierarchy, under a Prelate (successor of Josemaría Escrivá) with almost absolute autonomy with respect to the Pope and with their own religious structures of obedience.

• A body of priests faithful to the spirit of Escriva, who share the goals and methods of his “Work” and follow the Prelate with devotion, articulated through the legal figure of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.

• A parallel people and a parallel sense of belonging – differentiated by their worship of Josemaría Escrivá, elevated by them to the title of “The Father” (a title accepted by Escrivá himself) in opposition to the very clear instructions of Jesus:

“Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:9]

• A particular idol, the creator of the “Work”, Josemaría Escrivá, who for them is “holy” and is “the Father”; therefore, implicitly, “the Holy Father” – in parallel with the also idolatrous veneration of many Catholics (3) when they call the Pope “the Holy Father”.

• A spirit of their own – “the spirit of the Work”, which is what they call their way of thinking and acting when, as a community or individually, they strive to emulate Escriva, that is, when they follow the way marked by Escriva’s spirit.

Its character as a “church within the church” was confirmed by the following words of Alvaro del Portillo, Escriva’s first successor who presided over Opus Dei at the time of John Paul II:

“Opus Dei is juridically configured, more than as a society, a movement or an association, as a true portion of the people of God, hierarchically ordered, very similar to a particular church or diocese of a personal character, according to the definition given by the council.” (4)

Their character as a Church parallel to the Universal Church is confirmed by the fact that, unlike a particular church, they have the faculty and capacity to act throughout the entire world (5), which would not be possible if they did not have a parallel functioning – i.e. parallel to that of the rest of the Catholic faithful.

As we pointed out at the beginning, if the “sanctification of work” or “of ordinary life” really justifies, as a peculiar characteristic, the existence of the institution, it means that its faithful are “sanctifying work” or “ordinary life” in a different way and, therefore, parallel to the rest of Christians throughout the world. And “Christians all over the world” is the proper meaning of Church (i.e., universal assembly of Christ’s faithful). (6)

Their privileged and exclusive position as a Church within the Church is sealed by the fact that, since the recognition by John Paul II to be a Personal Prelature (in 1982), and to date (August 2023 as we write this), they have been and are the only Personal Prelature recognized by the Vatican Hierarchy.

Therefore, either John Paul II was wrong or St. Paul was wrong when the latter said:

“Now I beg you, brothers, through the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

For it has been reported to me concerning you, my brothers, by those who are from Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, «I follow Paul», «I follow Apollos», «I follow Cephas», and, «I follow Christ». Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?”
[1 Corinthians 1:10-13]

And we could hear him continue,

—“Some say, «I belong to Escriva», others «I belong to the Jesuits»...”—

a reproach that is also a continuation of Jesus’ instructions:

“Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ.” [Matthew 23:10]

This applies to many religious movements and institutions, but...

The key difference is that Opus Dei has no equal as a parallel Church united to the veneration of an idol as the focal point that justifies its existence.

As an example to meditate on, think, for example, that if the veneration of the Jesuits for the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, had such a strong character, a Jesuit like Bergoglio would have chosen the religious name Ignatius, not Francis (the leader of the Franciscans).


When Jesus called everyone to live a holy life [Matthew 5:48] —from which the sanctification of work cannot be separated, since it is a dimension that covers most of the Christian life— He did not yearn that an institution annexed to St. Peter “specialized” in the sanctification of ordinary life would be founded; that is absurd.

That is as absurd as if “leading a Christian life consistent with the Faith” needed a specialized supporting institution within Christianity and different to the Church as a universal assembly/community (6) guided by true shepherds (7). Therefore, such an institution can only be understood as a parallel way to that of Christ, not requested by Him.

Otherwise, it would mean holding that... Jesus Christ would have failed to provide his faithful with “a missing piece” (i.e., a proper way) to sanctify the Christian life for two thousand years... until Josemaria Escriva!


How could it be that John Paul II was led to consent to this contradiction? Could he have been manipulated? How is it that this Pope, whose heart belonged to God, promoted, within the Christian Church, an institution that disobeys, even proudly, these simple instructions of Christ (Matthew 23:9-10; confirmed by 1 Corinthians 1:10-13) that we have just seen? Judge for yourself.

(1) About Opus Dei - Index of Related Documents
(2) About Josemaría Escrivá - A Sample
(3) Our Position on The Catholic Faith -and- Our Position on The Administrators of the Catholic Faith
(4) Source (in Spanish)  |  Original in Italian  |  Archived in our domain
(5) “Faculty and capacity to act throughout the world”: This is the reason why they were so eager for the figure of a “Personal Prelature”, which is radically different from a traditional “Territorial Prelature”.
(6) Biblical definition of the term "Church" - The Church is the People of God, not an institution!
(7) “Guided by true shepherds”: to be distinguished from the “wolves in sheep's clothing”.

Related Documents

2005 - On Defense of Pope John Paul II - His programed and tragic trajectory

Listing of Cardinals, Bishops and Priests in the orbit of Opus Dei

Who Is Who in Opus Dei Worldwide

Some Universities, Institutions and Centers openly associated with Opus Dei Worldwide

Index of documents on the Opus Dei Sect in the domain of The M+G+R Foundation

The False Humility of Opus Dei's Founder, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Marquis of Peralta

The Impressive Power of Opus Dei... and How It Will End

A Journalistic Report on the Power of Opus Dei

Ecclesiastical Freemasonry (Secret Societies within the Church), Who are they?

The Doctrinal Fallacy of Opus Dei and Others - No One Can Serve God and Money Simultaneously

On Mind Control and Psychological Manipulation

The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, Sect or Cult? - The dictionary gives us the answer

Opus Dei's network - The influence of its ministers, judges, bankers... in the country of its founder

Opus Dei's penetration in the United States government

Opus Dei and the CIA: A Possible Link

The Prelature of Opus Dei - In Conclusion

En Español:  La existencia del Opus Dei en la Iglesia Católica Romana - ¿Una Iglesia dentro de la Iglesia?

Published on August 23, 2023

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