I am writing in response to the cover story on Opus Dei published in the April 10th issue of FM magazine, ( “Opening the Doors of Opus Dei” ). In it, the suggestion is made that Opus Dei members may subconsciously lose their freedom. Illustrating how “destructive cults are often characterized by a false pretense of freedom,” cult expert Steve Hassan is quoted as saying “[a] lot of members of cults say, ‘I’m free to leave whenever I want; I just choose not to leave.’ And then you ask, ‘Is it possible for someone to leave your group and still be okay with God?’ And they say no, it’s not possible.”
The article quotes current Opus Dei members who feel they are free, and one ex-member who feels she wasn’t, which of course continues to beg the question.
I was a member of Opus Dei for several years, and left. I always felt I had full freedom to join, full freedom to stay, and full freedom to leave. During the entire process I received heartfelt support and understanding from Opus Dei members, including directors and priests. After I left there was no word of condemnation: rather, respect, concern and ongoing friendship with many Opus Dei members ensued. I continue to love and practice my faith, and attend Mass at St. Paul’s several times a week.
The Catholic Church would not tolerate a destructive cult in its midst. Opus Dei, as an institution, enjoys complete approval of all the relevant Church authorities. The recent canonization of its Founder, attended by hundreds of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, is a testament to its standing in the Church.
Jose C. Florez
April 15, 2003
The writer is a resident tutor in Winthrop House.