Opus Dei: the first day of a new direction

Opus Dei: the first day of a new direction


Pope Francis has decreed a change in the organization of one of the most well-known and influential ecclesial groups: Opus Dei. There is no shortage of those who interpret it as a punishment for their immobility

Pope Francis reforms Opus Dei/Video: THE WORLD

It was only a matter of time before Pope Francis put Opus Dei in the crosshairs of institutional reforms which he carries out in the Catholic Church from the very evening of his election. Nothing is outside the interests of a Pontiff who claims to believe in a church that is like a “field hospital in the middle of the battle to welcome those who arrive wounded.” And when some structure does not fully conform to that ideal, the Pope acts. As now with Opus Dei, which launches a new direction, his day after.

What is Opus Dei?
Until now they have been defined as a “hierarchical institution” of the Catholic Church with the aim of favoring the holiness of its members. Francis’ new indications urge you, precisely, toinsist less on that hierarchy and worry more about the charisma, that is, of the service they provide to their members to grow in faith and in the social function they develop in society. It can be interpreted that, veiled, Rome considers that Opus Dei (literally, ‘the Work of God’) is highly hierarchical, is excessively dependent on its priests and bishops, and is not sufficiently dedicated to promoting the assumption of responsibilities by its lay membersmen and women.
personal prelature?
the opus is the only personal prelature that exists in the Church, since John Paul II granted them this consideration in 1982. In practice, this means giving this ecclesial group incomparable autonomy with that of any other entity, with the capacity to organize internally with its own rules, even apart from the authority of the bishop of the territory where their residences and places of worship are located. It could be said that they were like a particular diocese within another diocese. With the change promoted by Francisco, the provisions of the bishop of each zone will now equally affect the members of Opuswhich may be required for a specific task and must be adjusted to the work criteria of that diocese.
What changes now?
Canonically, everything. Francis has published proprio motu Ad charisma tuendum [Para proteger el carisma], by which, without abandoning its status as Prelature, the institution now depends on the Vatican Dicastery (something like the civil ministries) for the Clergy. In this way he disassociates them from the Dicastery for Bishops, implying that they no longer enjoy the same consideration as if they were any other diocese. Simplifying a lot, it can be said that the level of self-management they enjoyed, which was an exceptionality hardly justifiable. In practice, for example, they will have to send the Dicastery for the Clergy an annual report on the state of the Prelature and on the development of its apostolic work. In other words, they must be accountable for their work and its organization, something new. It is also true that the head of Opus can no longer be appointed bishop.
The Pope reduction of consideration as punishment?
Both parties have expressly declared that it is not a corrective. However, the mere fact that the Pope issued a motu proprio expressly to modify the organization of the Work is an indication of his disagreement with the global character that was defining the institution, beyond a specific problem that could have been resolved by less forceful means. The excessive weight of the hierarchy of Opus Dei is the central issue that is being addressed, since Francis considers that the excessive actions of priests and bishops was drowning the function for which the Opus was born. It is not a punishment, but it is a blow on the table to change the course.
why now?
The Pope has embarked on the global reform of the Roman Curia, so many times accused of being immobile and of not being at the service of the people but of their personal interests. some of the keys of this profound, and much-discussed renewal, are: that any Christian -even those who are not priests or bishops- can hold government functions in Rome; also that “personal integrity and professionalism” are required of those who work in the service of the Pope; or that the priests and religious who form part of the curia will be able to work for a maximum of 10 years in the Vatican, and then they must return to their places of origin to carry out other pastoral tasks. The truth is that the Pope has taken advantage of this reform movement to solve some pending issuessuch as the internal organization of the Opus.
A reform, only negative?
The transformations promoted by Francis have as their central axis that the co-responsibility of all the members of the Catholic community be really exercised -and not only in the documents-, after having diagnosed that for many priests and bishops the laity are considered mere helpers, and not main actors in the life of the Church. The Pope intends to put an end to the excessive clericalization of the communities and return to the laity the role that corresponds to them by virtue of being baptized. Proof that this is more than just good intentions is the election in July of three women (two religious and one laywoman) to form part of the commission in charge of advising the Pope on choosing new bishops from around the world. For the first time in the history of the Churchthere will be women among the 23 members who have performed this task up to now.
Changes in a hurry because you plan to resign?
Francis has expressly stated that does not rule out resigning if you consider that you no longer have the appropriate physical and mental conditions to carry out the position. Benedict XVI’s gesture seems to have definitively put an end to a long history of Popes who disappeared from the public scene for months, even years, until finally his death was announced. However, the Pontiff has joked that, for now, the wheelchair is more than enough to prevent his resignation.
Is this the beginning of a revolution within the Church?
No way. Although the media focus has avoided the intimacy of the Vatican and has concentrated on the abuse of minors within the Churchfor years Francis has waged a relentless battle against lesser-known realities, although “equally painful for the life of the Church”, in his opinion. This is the case, among many other issues on which he has issued instructions, of respect and role of women in the Christian community; of the abuses of conscience by the superiors of the houses of religious, especially women; of the excessive ideologization on the part of the clergy, which assumes as its own the dictates of some parties of the extreme left and extreme right that are incompatible with the Gospel. It could be said that this new reality for Opus Dei is just one more chapter, not even the most revolutionary, of the transformation spearheaded by the “bishop who came from the end of the world,” as Francis defined himself. It is true that there are few institutions in the Catholic Church with members so influential in political and economic life of the different countries where the Work is present.
Fernando Ocariz, prelate of Opus Dei.
Fernando Ocariz, prelate of Opus Dei.Opus Dei

Source: www.elmundo.es

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