Opus Dei: A secret society?

Before the (in)famous book The DaVinci Code brought this ‘secret’ to the public, there were lots of rumours, secret rumours, about one specific Catholic “society”: the Opus Dei.

Let me outline how I will like to misspell the ‘mystery’ of Opus Dei. First, I will clarify the concept of secret society, then I will breakdown all the elements that such societies are composed of by comparing it to Opus Dei. Finally, I’ll  to close up with my personal experiences with the  ‘no-so-secret” Opus Dei.

What’s a Secret Society?

“Secret societies are those organizations which completely conceal their rules, corporate activity, the names of their members, their signs, passwords and usages from outsiders or the ‘profane.’ As a rule, the members of these societies are bound to the strictest secrecy concerning all the business of the association by oath or promise or word of honour, and often under the threat of severe punishment in case of its violation. If such secret society has higher and lower degrees, the members of the higher degree must be equally careful to conceal their secrets from their brethren of a lower degree. In certain secret societies, the members are not allowed to know even the names of their highest officers. Secret societies were founded to promote certain ideal aims, to be obtained not by violent but by moral measures. By this, they are distinguished from conspiracies and secret plots which are formed to attain a particular object through violent means. Secret societies may be religious, scientific, political or social” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Secret Society vis-a-vis Opus Dei

Definition Elements of a Secret Society

Opus Dei publicly available information


Concealed rules You can find O.D. teachings pretty much everywhere (Wikipedia, Official website and even unofficial/critical books and websites) None
Concealed corporate activity All institutions that are related to or created by Opus Dei have no problem disclosing this. Ex: University of Navarra in Spain, Punlaan School in Manila, Midtown Educational Foundation in Chicago) Zero
Concealed members The official website provides overall membership numbers; however, Wikipedia has a large of ‘famous’ Opus Dei members Ziltch
Secrecy oath I personally know many people that when ask they do not hesitate to indicate their membership. Next time, ask to whoever you believe to be a member…you will get your answer Nada
High/Low Degrees of Inmmersion Within Opus Dei there are basically three different kind of members: Clergy, Numeraries  and Supernumeraries. All with different roles but nothing else Nope
Concealed Information to members Like any Catholic organization, there may be personal information (i.e. sins) that is only known by the O.D. priest. Niente
Promote ideals by using moral measures It all depends by what do we understand as moral measures. All Christians are called to promote Christ’s Ideals and Laws, so if this is what it is meant, then yes. Any other conceptualization, then no. It all depends
Non-violent If anything, O.D. is too friendly and too non-reactive. This institution has lacked some proactive behaviour that others have suggested as much needed. Yep

A supplementary case (for what it’s worth):

I will like to disclosed that I am not a member of Opus Dei; however, I have attended many social and religious events in different countries sponsored by Opus Dei. For more than twenty years, I have never been asked to join them or never seen anything suspicious (and I have had the opportunity to be exposed to this). I have also worked for an institution that was founded by Opus Dei and never experienced a single threat or guideline regarding sharing information about them.


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