What is Opus Dei?

Testimonies and Other Writings

Opus Dei, the
Da Vinci Code
and ODAN

Questionable Practices

Corporal Mortification

Index of Forbidden Books New

Index of Forbidden Books

Opus Dei in the News Media

Opus Dei-affiliated foundations

Opus Dei 1982 Statutes

Opus Dei 1950 Constitutions

Resources Available from ODAN


Support Us


"Bringing light to Opus Dei's Questionable Practices"

About ODAN

The Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc. (ODAN) was founded in 1991 to meet the growing demand for accurate information about Opus Dei and to provide education, outreach and support to people who have been adversely affected by Opus Dei. ODAN challenges many of Opus Dei's Questionable Practices because of the way they affect an individual's personal freedom, choices and family life.

Since 1991, ODAN has been in contact with countless individuals, families, the secular and religious press, clergy, religious, cult awareness organizations, campus ministers, home-schooling parents and more.

ODAN is a worldwide community of people who have had painful experiences as a result of their association with Opus Dei.

ODAN is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.  Please support our work to continue providing information about Opus Dei.

Funding Letter 2012

Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc. (ODAN™)

PO Box 4333, Pittsfield, MA 01202-4333,

Tel: (413) 499-7168; Fax:  (413) 499-7860

Web:  www.odan.org, e-mail: odan@odan.org


December 2012 

Dear Friends of ODAN,

Recently Opus Dei, Spain, sued a Danish game maker Demi Games, over the card game ‘Opus Dei: Existence After Religion.’  Dema Games copyrighted the game under Danish copyright laws in 2009.  “The game has no right to use the name,” according to the Opus Dei’s spokesperson Joanna Engstedt.  The group has demanded that Danish officials remove the disputed game from copyright records, and is seeking some 300,000kr  (€40,000) in damages (approximately $52,000.)  However, Dema Games has stated via its Facebook page, ‘No one entity can claim sole rights to religious concepts of any kind.’  The company’s lawyer, James Glaese, told the Associated Press, ‘These are far-reaching demands.  In our view, you cannot get the right to a common concept like Opus Dei, which can be equated with…other religious concepts like hallelujah.’” [1]

In 1997 ODAN pursued trademarking Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc. and contacted several professionals in the field.   Each one of them was amazed that the name Opus Dei (Work of God in Latin) could be trademarked.  How did Opus Dei manage to trademark God for itself?  Does God only belong to Opus Dei?

ODAN was also advised that if we tried to trademark any name with Opus Dei in it, we should be prepared for an expensive legal fight with Opus Dei.  After much prayer and contemplation, ODAN decided to trademark the name ODAN, a much safer domain name.  Our organization would be protected under the name ODAN. It is a name recognized as questioning Opus Dei’s practices.  ODAN is often quoted by print and internet media as well as in books about Opus Dei.  ODAN’s scholarly pieces describing our serious concerns about Opus Dei are well regarded.  Our organization is as well known as ODAN as Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc.  Protecting the name ODAN prevents an Opus Dei takeover of our organization and allows us to use our funding source, you, in the best way possible.  We did not want ODAN to be taken over by Opus Dei the way our sister organization, Opus Livre was taken over.

When ODAN learned of Opus Livre, our sister organization located in Brazil, we were thankful another organization told the same stories about Opus Dei that we were telling.  This website was written in Portuguese and had testimonies from former members and books written about the negative aspects of Opus Dei.  ODAN had been in touch with the founders and was both saddened and dismayed when due to their failure to continue to purchase their domain name, Opus Dei was able to buy the domain name Opus Livre and shut them down.  It reminded us when Scientology shut down Cult Awareness Network in 1997.   Scientology managed to accomplish shutting down this important cult awareness organization with lots of money to sue CAN numerous times until they succeeded.   CAN went bankrupt and Scientology took over their phone lines and office in Chicago. 

Why am I talking about Scientology/CAN in the ODAN funding letter?  Because when Opus Dei bought the domain name to one of their critics’ websites and shut them down, they were doing the same thing that Scientology did to CAN.    Instead of shutting Opus Livre down, why didn’t Opus Dei take the time to review their practices and change which ones were questionable?

Opus Dei’s actions speak volumes about its true motives – why would a group that states it is only interested in the “spiritual welfare” of its members attempt to limit the flow of information by purchasing the domain name of Opus Livre?  Such actions have been the hallmark of oppressive and totalistic regimes and groups throughout history, and raises important questions:  What does Opus Dei have to hide?  Why does it fear the free flow of information?

Our outreach to inform the world about Opus Dei’s questionable practices relies on your generosity.  Please consider praying for ODAN and sending a tax deductible donation to help us continue our work.


Dianne R. DiNicola
Executive Director

[1] “Danish game maker amid legal battle with Catholic Group” Ice News, December 3,2012, http:/www.icenews

Please support us!


Opus Dei in the News

French Woman Loses Case Against Opus Dei for
Involuntary Servitude

A woman from France identified as Catherine Tissier has lost a suit against Opus Dei for involuntary labor while she was under the influence of Opus Dei from 1985 to 2001.  During this time, she worked in organizations linked to Opus Dei for up to 14 hours per day, seven days a week, cleaning and serving for very little pay. 

The suit brings into sharp focus the plight of numerary assistants within Opus Dei.  Like many others who become numerary assistants, Catherine Tissier became involved at the young age of 14 while attending an Opus Dei-run hoteliers school in northeastern France in 1985.  (For more information about the types of members in Opus Dei:  What is Opus Dei?)  She joined Opus Dei as a 16-year old minor, becoming an "auxiliary numerary" or "numerary assistant."

Several factors make the plight of the Opus Dei numerary assistants disturbing - Many have been recruited and allowed to make commitments to Opus Dei while still minors, and as Catherine Tissier stated in an interview with the AFP, were "forbidden to talk about it [with] parents." (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gw-2sL0vkuPdy5rPQg7mnSPJob1Q?docId=CNG.901f10405411aeeb8554b48d4d3a7341.2e1)

In addition, the manner in which pay was distributed was also questionable.  Besides being paid very little, the numerary assistants were also required to hand over their pay to their Opus Dei directors, essentially having no control over their own wages, as Ms. Tissier tried to prove in her case.  This practice continued as recently as 2005, as stated by former numerary assistant Colleen O'Neill in an interview with Paula Zahn in 2006.  (http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0605/19/pzn.01.html)   For an abridged version of Colleen's story and CNN transcript, link here:  CNN Transcript

Catherine Tissier's story may be similar to that of a former numerary assistant whose testimony below communicates the subtle means by which Opus Dei gained control of her mind and kept her locked in a cycle of fear, guilt, manipulation and even the use of tranquilizers prescribed by Opus Dei doctors.  Her compelling story can be found on the Testimonies and Other Writings page at the following link:      

My Basic Human Rights Were Violated (Testimony of a Former Opus Dei numerary assistant)

According to the AFP report, the Paris court has cleared two members of Opus Dei associated with the University and Technical Culture Association (ACUT).  Opus Dei's defense lawyer, Thierry Laugier, made the case that ACUT was completely separate from Opus Dei except for a "partnership for spiritual activities."

These statements by Opus Dei follow a pattern they have used when faced with criticism – downplaying the role Opus Dei plays with their schools, centers and other institutions when in fact the organization is the lifeblood and driving force behind all of them.  Opus Dei members make statements that make it seem like these institutions “just happen” to entrust their spiritual activities to Opus Dei – nothing could be farther from the truth.

After being rescued from the group in 2001 by her parents, Catherine Tissier weighed only 86 pounds.  Many of the details of Catherine's story appear similar to those communicated by former numerary assistants from Europe as well as the US.

It is gravely unfortunate that the plight of Opus Dei numerary assistants continues to be misunderstood, as the outcome of this case demonstrates.  Also misunderstood is how groups can manipulate the mind using sophisticated cult-like techniques - that cults exist in our world is undoubtedly true.  Yet members within cult-like groups rarely if ever believe or recognize that they have been manipulated or subjected to deceptive practices.  Seasoned members of cult-like groups are often manipulated into believing that their actions are justified and even beautiful within the narrow mind-set of the group, when in fact they constitute deliberate, orchestrated manipulations that pose as true spiritual enlightenments.

Even Opus Dei's reaction to the news of this lawsuit is disturbing - The headlines include terms that would lead readers to conclude that Opus Dei itself was completely exonerated of any and all criticisms, and that those who raise legitimate concerns about the group are "propagating among the public false data."  Yet Opus Dei's reaction is in complete contradiction to their assertion that the French school in question had only a "spiritual link" to Opus Dei.  Words used in Opus Dei's coverage include "complete exoneration"; "completely absolves" and "completely cleared."

Rodolphe Bosselut, Ms. Tissier's lawyer, was "disappointed, but not surprised, by the ruling," citing extreme hostility toward his client within the courtroom. He plans to appeal the ruling.

For more information about the lawsuit:
The Telegraph, "French Woman Loses Opus Dei Enslavement Case" by Henry Samuel, November 24, 2011

The Herald Sun, "Court Clears Opus Dei-linked group", from AFP, November 25, 2011

From Opus Dei's website:  "French court completely absolves Dosnan School", November 24, 2011

Agence France-Presse (AFP) "French woman sues Opus Dei, claims brainwashing" By Dorothee Moisan  – Jun 28, 2011

CatholicCulture.org "French woman files involuntary-labor charges against Opus Dei" - June 29, 2011


Opus Libros in Spain Ordered to Remove Opus Dei Documents from Website

Opus Libros, ODAN's sister organization in Spain, has been ordered by a Spanish judge to remove internal documents of Opus Dei from its website, www.opuslibros.org.  In one of the few articles about this news item written in English, in "Opus Dei Wins Web Battle," the Olive Press reports on November 6 that the website was charged with "violating the intellectual property rights" of Opus Dei by making available to the public the unseen writings of Opus Dei's founder.

Which begs the question:  what is Opus Dei afraid of?  Why would they not want all of the writings of their founder available for the public to read?  That they would go to such great lengths to restrict access to information adds fuel to charges of secrecy and manipulation.  One wonders also, with the presence of Opus Dei so prevalent in Spain, whether anyone has looked into the impartiality of the judicial process.

A lengthier article in Spanish appears in El Pais at the following link.  ODAN is currently working on an English translation of the article and will post it on the website at a future date. 

Opus Dei Bishop Indicted for Failure to Report Suspected Abuse

Bishop Robert Finn, Opus Dei member and bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was indicted in October for failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest under his jurisdiction and diocese (Father Shawn Ratigan).  The accused priest was charged for taking pornographic pictures of underage girls.

Bishop Finn was informed of the pictures discovered on Ratigan's computer in December 2010, yet failed to alert police until May 11, 2011.  This, despite the fact that Finn had agreed in a $10 million settlement with 47 plaintiffs three years ago to immediately report suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement officials. 

According to a report by the Religion News Service, Finn has agreed to a deal with law enforcement in Clay County to allow monthly oversight by prosecutors over the next five years.  Charges still stand against Finn in neighboring Jackson County.

Not only has Bishop Finn breached the promises he made in the settlement three years ago, he has also ignored demands for his resignation from parishioners and abuse victims, who feel hurt and betrayed.  In an article appearing in huffingtonpost.com, former spokesman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and well-known Opus Dei member Russell Shaw fails to identify himself as an Opus Dei member while speaking in Finn's defense.  Shaw called repeated demands for Finn's resignation "terribly distasteful" and implied that because Finn apologized, all should be forgiven and forgotten.

Finn is now the highest-ranking church official to be criminally charged with sheltering a priest suspected of sex abuse.  For more information:

HuffingtonPost.com, "Bishop Robert Finn Accepts Deal to Avoid Second Indictment", by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service, November 15, 2011

HuffingtonPost.com, "Robert Finn, Bishop Indicted For Porn Cover-Up, Plans to Continue Leading Diocese," by Heather Hollingsworth and Rachel Zoll, October 19, 2011

ABC News, "Bishop of Kansas City Indicted for Failure to Report Suspected Abuse", by Father Edward Beck, October 14, 2011

Family claims Opus Dei holding daughter

Latest development:  Judge excuses self from Opus Dei case

A family from Kenya has turned to the courts in an effort to stop Opus Dei from sending their 25-year old daughter away to another country.  In the latest news related to the case, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi "disqualified" herself from the case, citing that she was "uncomfortable" hearing the case, due to the fact that she has friends who are members of Opus Dei.  The daughter, Sophie Naliaka, was recruited into Opus Dei as a numerary while attending Kenya High School, according to a report in the Nairobi Star.  Her parents, Dr. Charles Ngome and his wife Hellen Kibanani have instituted a suit at the High Court in Nairobi. 

The parents have reported that their daughter has suffered from delusional disorder as a result of her association with Opus Dei.  Naliaka was hospitalized on May 9 for treatment of mental illness and discharged on May 24.  Opus Dei members were involved as Naliaka left her parent’s home in Bungoma on June 18.

This story is yet another indicator of Opus Dei questionable practices, including highly manipulative recruitment techniques, including the recruitment of minors without the knowledge or consent of parents, mental illness abuses, secrecy, manipulation and deception, occurring in different cultures, countries and even continents wherever Opus Dei operates. 

To read the entire article:


In an update to this story, Sophie Naliaka has stated that she has joined Opus Dei of her own free will and that her parents detained her without her consent.  She also states that she joined Opus Dei at the age of 22.  One wonders whether this is really the truth, or if it is another instance where Opus Dei encourages its members to tell half-truths and purposely cloud the reality of how people really join Opus Dei.  The original article stated that Naliaka became involved with Opus Dei while attending Kenya High School - it is possible she made her initial commitment to Opus Dei (called "whistling") while still a minor. 

The following article, "Joining Opus Dei," provides excellent information about how Opus Dei purposely clouds the definition of membership - to those who have experienced Opus Dei firsthand, there is no doubt that Opus Dei in practice considers the first commitment a lifetime one - those who try to back away after learning more details about what that commitment entails are typically bombarded with guilt and pressure to continue.  The tragedy is that those who continue in Opus Dei do not realize the depth of manipulation and control that was present when they were first targeted for membership - even those in the group who practice manipulation in order to get new members do not fully recognize it as such, as their actions are described using Opus Dei's particular verbage that makes it seem beautiful and God-inspired when in truth it is humanly orchestrated and manipulated. 

Follow-up article in the Nairobi Star:

Opus Dei Tries to Influence Public Opinion with Film

There Be Dragons, a movie produced by Roland Joffe, Guy J. Louthan and Opus Dei members Ignacio G. Sancha and Ignacio Núñez, opened in U.S. theaters May 6, 2011 and is now available for purchase.   The story portrays Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva during the early years of Opus Dei's founding, which took place in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Despite downplaying its role in the production of the film, Opus Dei has again employed its usual tactic of manipulating circumstances in the background while presenting a picture that seems entirely spontaneous and without guile.  Keen observers of Opus Dei recognize that the film project has indeed been Opus Dei driven and financed, despite allegations to the contrary.

In a New York times article published last June, the author writes of the movie:

"The financing of about $30 million came from about 100 investors, and raising it was a struggle, said Ignacio G. Sancha, the lead producer, a Spanish financier and lawyer who is also a member of Opus Dei." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/22/movies/22opus.html?_r=1)

The early Times article stated that "the project was initiated by a member of Opus Dei, is partly produced and financed by the group’s members and has enlisted an Opus Dei priest to consult on the set." 

Contrast this information with a recent quote from an Opus Dei website saying that "at the request of the film’s producers, the communications office of the Prelature of Opus Dei provided historical information and other audiovisual materials regarding Saint Josemaria, as it does in response to similar requests for news stories, books and documentaries," as if Opus Dei had nothing at all to do with the planning and production of the film.

In addition, the Opus Dei site states "while news of a film dealing with Saint Josemaria by a director of Mr. Joffe’s caliber generates considerable interest and expectations, this movie is not a project of the Prelature of Opus Dei, and the few members of Opus Dei involved in it are acting in an entirely personal capacity." (http://www.josemariaescriva.info/article/roland-joffe-film-there-be-dragons )  Those who have experienced Opus Dei's manipulation and deception firsthand know better.

For further information on "There Be Dragons":

Wikipedia - gives some good information but needs to be read with caution as sources are not always identified or confirmed:

Hollywood Reporter Film Review

Variety Film Review

Opus Dei's spin on the movie:


For Testimonies about Opus Dei click on the following: Testimonies and Other Writings


New Book about Opus Dei Available on Kindle






             Description: Opus Dei: The false Work of God, A guide to Families all over the World


by the author, Betty Silberstein

This book was born from the effort of a common person to be acquainted with an organism which has in the secrecy one of its most outstanding characteristics: the Opus Dei, or The Work. This work presents itself as a valuable instrument for the understanding of this phenomenon embedded in the Catholic Church.

Knowledge is certainly the most efficient instrument in the combat of indoctrination. And, as the title announces, the goal of this book is to alert families about the insidious way Opus Dei filters through them, in order to take their children away afterwards.

The reading of this book is extremely useful not only for Catholic families, because this organization can attack anyone, Catholic or not. Once it gets close to people who they want to co-opt, the members do not even explain their true objectives or their actual practices. Therefore, the publication of Opus Dei addresses, companies, schools and entities linked to it, is something of very high value, since parents have now the possibility to know that the place their children are attending is not only a “kids’ club”, or a simple catechism class, or free tutoring classes, but, mostly, a recruitment center for young persons from an extremely reactionary Catholic entity.


Betty is a former teacher. Nowadays she is a writer, translator and reviser. She took part in several Anthologies, in Brazil and abroad (France and the US). She has received many awards for her work, among them the Médaille d´Argent, from the Académie de Arts Sciences et Lettres de Paris.

She is a Member and Counselor for REBRA (Brazilian Women Writers Net), where her homepage may be accessed.


Her e-mail is: bettyescritora@silber.com.br


To make a donation to ODAN, please click on the following link:

 Support Us

Thank you!

Opus Dei Bishop Appointed Head of Los Angeles Diocese

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez was announced coadjutor and future archbishop of the Los Angeles diocese on April 6, 2010.  Ordained as an Opus Dei priest in 1978, Gomez is the first Latino archbishop in Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles diocese is the largest diocese in the United States and one of the largest in the world.  Gomez will succeed Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in February 2011 when Manony turns 75, the age when bishops must submit their resignation to the Pope.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1951, Gomez joined Opus Dei when in college.  He has degrees in business and philosophy from the National University of New Mexico (1975) and a doctorate in theology from the Opus Dei-run University of Navarre.  Previous to his appointment in Los Angeles, Gomez was archbishop in San Antonio, Texas since 2005.  Gomez became a US citizen in 1995.

News reports predict that it is likely Gomez will be appointed a cardinal in the years ahead.  In an article written by John Allen Jr., Gomez is quoted as saying that "he is not a "member" of Opus Dei, but rather that he was ordained a priest in Opus Dei and that his spirituality reflects that background. If he's a "member" of anything now, he says, it's the diocese he leads."

For more information:
"Four Points to Make about Gomez and LA" by John Allen Jr., April 9, 2010

Catholic News Service, http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/100142`.htm  Apr-9-2010

Testimonies about Opus Dei:

     "Opus Dei Recruits Minors and Deceives Church Officials"
      "Opus Dei Superiors Lied to Church Officials"
      "Government, Direction and Control in Opus Dei"

      "Fathers, don't let your sons grow up to be Opus Dei recruits"

Included with these testimonies are the guidelines issued by the now deceased Cardinal Basil Hume in 1981 in England (Cardinal Hume Guidelines) directing Opus Dei to comply with a number of criteria, including not allowing minors to make any commitments to Opus Dei; requiring that minors discuss the matter with their parents or guardians before making any commitments; allowing Opus Dei members to choose their own spiritual directors(in Opus Dei or not) and enter or leave the organization without undue pressure. 

The testimonies show clearly that Opus Dei before, during and after that time period, has clearly violated all those guidelines while making false statements to church officials.  While several of the authors have chosen to remain anonymous for various reasons, including fear of repercussions from Opus Dei, ODAN has verified that they are true accounts written by sincere
individuals who contacted ODAN with the desire that their stories be known.  It is ODAN's hope that by posting this information for public perusal it will lead to a change in Opus Dei's deceptive and unethical practices.

The testimonies can be found under Testimonies and Other Writings.

Opus Dei's Forbidden Book List

Opus Dei's "Index of Forbidden Books" which they continue to deny using, has been updated
thanks to the Spanish sister group
Opus Libros The new list which is believed to be current as of 2003, can be accessed as an Excel spreadsheet at the following link: 
Index of Forbidden Books New


About ODAN

The Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc. (ODAN) was founded in 1991 to meet the growing demand for accurate information about Opus Dei and to provide education, outreach and support to people who have been adversely affected by Opus Dei. ODAN challenges many of Opus Dei's Questionable Practices because of the way they affect an individual's personal freedom, choices and family life.

Since 1991, ODAN has been in contact with countless individuals, families, the secular and religious press, clergy, religious, cult awareness organizations, campus ministers, home-schooling parents and more.

ODAN is a worldwide community of people who have had painful experiences as a result of their association with Opus Dei.

Contact Us

ODAN is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.  Please support our work to continue providing information about Opus Dei.

Opus Dei Awareness Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 4333
Pittsfield, MA 01202-4333

Telephone: 413-499-7168
Fax: 413-499-7860
Email: odan@odan.org

Executive Director: Dianne DiNicola

Revised December 21, 2012