Francis weakens the Opus Dei “personal prelature”

We read today at Acistampa that Opus Dei which has been a “personal prelature” will no longer be able to have a bishop as its prelatial head.

Instead, the head of the Opus Dei will be a Protonotary Apostolic Monsignor (the highest sort). In fairness, a PA Monsignor is a “prelate”.

Implications:

First, despite the early talk about decentralizing power from Rome, what we have seen again and again is concentration of more and more control in Rome.  If this reign of Francis is about anything, it is about centralizing control.

Second, the structure of the “personal prelature” was often thought of as a solution for traditional groups, including the SSPX.    This, therefore, does not bode well for any traditional group.  In other news, water is still wet.

Third, this could also smack of caudillo-like revenge: more and more it seems that members of Opus Dei are not entirely thrilled with all that Francis does.

Fourth, if there was a suggestion in the texts of the Council that there could be structures like Opus Dei, it seems that the “spirit of Vatican II” disagrees.  But you have to have gnostic-like secret knowledge of the “spirit of V2” to manuver through the special accompaniment that Opus Dei is receiving.

We are all walking together now toward a new springtime.

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25 Comments

  1. B says:

    Wow, I am shocked!

    That was one of the supposed benefits of the Personal Prelature since it encompasses people parallel to dioceses for it’s own faithful.

    Perhaps we should call this a Personal Monsignature from now on…

  2. Fr. Reader says:

    “Second, the structure of the “personal prelature” was often thought of as a solution for traditional groups, including the SSPX. This, therefore, does not bode well for any traditional group. In other news, water is still wet.”
    Or the opposite, now these groups, if transformed into such prelature, would not be able to ask for a bishop.

  3. B says:

    …and the more I think about this…

    I wonder if the change is to create an environment where future heads of Opus Dei will be encouraged to be lay people instead of clergy. Since we see Pope Francis putting more emphasis on lay people in governing roles…

  4. Chrisc says:

    Laws would be irrelevant if each Pope were an absolute monarch.

    The Knights of Malta and Opus Dei. All kinds of structures being leveled because there is no structure that must not be reformed. Whenever a terrible wind is to blow there will be no more trees which will provide a wind break.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    I have said it before, and I will say it again, Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox are watching.

    How long before the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham gets “specially accompaniment”?

  6. Imrahil says:

    So, this means two things.

    One, the Pope does not want the Opus Dei to have its own bishop (which apparently is reason enough for it not to have one). It is not too far-fetched to assume that he dislikes the Opus Dei, and that probably because the Opus Dei, in all filial affection, has grown to dislike the Pope. (Although a friend of mine only a couple of months ago, I believe, said that Opus Dei priests were the only conservative, you know what I mean, priests that still quoted the Pope in sermons.) (I’m charitable enough not to assume the reason is the bad image the personal prelature has for the consumers of thrillers by Dan Brown.)

    But no need for a comment by me, because I have nothing to add to what our reverend host has said, really.

    So, now for the second observation:

    Somebody in the Vatican, to use the popular expression, hasn’t got his wits together.

    You see, the prelate of the Opus Dei can, legally, be a bishop or no bishop, whatever we may think of the Papal policy behind the change of that status. (And of course, if he is a priest, he can be granted or not granted to use the pontificals.) But what he cannot be is a supernumerary Protonotary Apostolic.

    The prelate the Opus Dei is prelate of a prelature. That, coincidentally, is why he is called a prelate. That means, that even if only a priest, he belongs to the class of Prelates in his own right (together with bishops, abbots and so forth). Now what a supernumerary Protonotary Apostolic is is an honorary appointment – obviously, the Opus Dei prelate is not going to do notary work for the Roman Curia, and that would probably be done by the PAs de numero anyway – in order to make someone share most (a domestic prelate, still many) of the honors and privileges of a Prelate. So, they make someone who is an actual prelate into someone sharing the honors of a prelate.

    Of course, the reason for that is that the Pope said “no bishop anymore, but the highest rank below that“, and someone said that was a Protonotary Apostolic, and so that was the result. (I have a fancy it is rather en vogue not to be too knowledgeable about this clerical rank stuff.)

  7. acardnal says:

    Isn’t it true that most, if not all, religious congregations and institutes are NOT led by a bishop?

  8. redneckpride4ever says:

    Here’s an English version of the article. For some reason none of my browsers will translate the text.

    https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2022-07/pope-francis-motu-proprio-opus-dei.html

    It’s hard for me to have a fully informed opinion on Opus Dei. How can a person sort through valid criticism and mud slinging when they are presented on the internet in a muddled manner?

    Father Z, you did a fantastic job of presenting your readers a clarifying look at the SSPX last year. Would you be able to do the same for Opus Dei at some point?

  9. khouri says:

    And what will happen to the Ordinariates which to be a part of the Church really need to be headed by bishops. Yes, Personal Prelatures are different than Ordinariates but the Ordinariates are “non geographical” dioceses made up of many traditional minded people. Are they next? Will the use of Divine Worship be curtailed since it is not the “unique form” (NO) of the Roman Rite?

  10. khouri says:

    And what will happen to the Ordinariates which to be a part of the Church really need to be headed by bishops. Yes, Personal Prelatures are different than Ordinariates but the Ordinariates are “non geographical” dioceses made up of many traditional minded people. Are they next? Will the use of Divine Worship be curtailed since it is not the “unique expression” (NO) of the Roman Rite?

    I have Ordinariate friends who are concerned and are looking at Western Rite Orthodoxy which more and more uses the Mass forms (in English) of the 1955 Missal.

  11. WVC says:

    How long until the Anglican Use comes under fire? No stone is going to be left unturned. This return of the Spirit of Vatican II is like the demon that came back with 7 more demons. This ain’t no aggiornamento. It’s destructive gale force winds cranking up.

  12. Danteewoo says:

    Opus Dei and the Jesuits have been enemies for a long time. Escriva said that he would rather one of his “daughters” die without the Last Sacraments than to receive them from a Jesuit. This comment also doesn’t say much for Escriva’s sanctity.

  13. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    As far as I can tell, the plan seems to be to corral all the Practicing Catholics into a corner, and then… umm…

    well…

    Hmm… I’m sure they’ll figure something out. But boy, will we ever be sorry for not wanting to live banal, pointless lives. Yesiree.

  14. arga says:

    This may also be the long-delayed revenge of the Jesuits, who bitterly fought against Opus Dei in the 1940s and 50s for its supposedly heretical charism. Easy to find in histories of OD.

  15. Chrisc says:

    Dante,

    I don’t know if that quote says much about his sanctity. It’s not as if Maciel said it.

  16. Benedict Joseph says:

    Actions and non-actions speak clearly and eloquently the intention of the actor. One no longer is left to wonder what exactly Opus Dei’s gratuitous submissiveness has earned them. The ecclesial sandbox is not infrequently a hostile environment where the game is played with rules easily adjusted for convenience. This appears to be all part of the storm in Church and society of redefining reality. I read this morning that the definition of a “recession” is about to be altered. Such actions are employed by those in power for the advancement of their personal agenda. Personal agendas don’t have a place in lawfully governed ecclesial existence or in a constitutional republic. These two entities are mirroring each other, but the collapse of the later could never have taken place without the deliberately crafted disorientation in the former.

  17. Mike says:

    Opus Dei is pretty traditional in personal formation, prayer, confession, direction. Their liturgical tastes run high in the NO, but publicly they are terrified of the VO.

    A good bunch. Francis likely dislikes them for this.

  18. Surely it was unnecessary to insert into the amended Ut sit that the Prelate may not be a bishop for a bishop may only be ordained by pontifical mandate or by the Pope himself, and any future Pope could simply ignore this. It all smacks of pettiness to say the least.

  19. ChiaraDiAssisi says:

    @ Lurker59
    Just last evening I wrote a comment but decided not to post. Today, I will echo you and say yes, I think the East is watching and all too familiar with this..leveling.

    I wonder, if it is time for the East to speak up loudly.

  20. Cameron466 says:

    Danteewoo, that quote of St. Josemaria is definitely a fabrication. If you read “In Love With The Church,” he expresses literally the exact opposite theology when it comes to bad priests.

  21. Dave P. says:

    Isn’t it true that most, if not all, religious congregations and institutes are NOT led by a bishop?

    Most of the time, no. But they can be. Abp. Lefebvre was Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers after leaving the Archdiocese of Dakar.

  22. acardnal says:

    Dave P.: thanks for that.

  23. JMody says:

    Full disclosure – I’m a “cooperator” of Opus Dei.
    This might be the descriptive line for the entire Vatican City Apparatus in my more-than-half-century here so far:
    “the special accompaniment that Opus Dei is receiving…”
    Because aren’t a whole lotta folks receiving a lot of “special accompaniment”? That’ll give the saying “SA” a whole new meaning. You thought it stood for “situational awareness”, but no, not any more. That saying is old, so it’s, you know, rigid. You might need a little “special accompaniment” to get with the program …

  24. ProfessorCover says:

    For Benedict Joseph. I am an economist who has studied business cycles and taught macroeconomics at every level above high school. Originally what we call recessions were called “panics”. Then an administration decided to say this is not a panic, it is a depression. Sometime after the Great Depression (1929-33) and the 1936-37 depression, the US government began to use the term recession in that it is not a depression, only a recession. I don’t know what the Biden administration is thinking, but rather than change the definition of recession, they need to come up with a new word. Sort of like a Church that decides to de-emphasize sin, changing it from penance or confession to reconciliation.
    BTW, there is no formal definition of a recession. But I used to use a decline in aggregate economic activity, but other conditions are required as well, similar to a mortal sin requiring 3 conditions that begin with it must be a grave matter.

  25. TonyO says:

    First, despite the early talk about decentralizing power from Rome, what we have seen again and again is concentration of more and more control in Rome. If this reign of Francis is about anything, it is about centralizing control.

    Which makes me wonder: is it possible that Francis’s moves “toward synodality” are, really, disguised moves of extending and solidifying papal power? For example, If the Church is looking to local synods for its next direction, and if there are 2,000 local synods in motion at any one time (one for each diocese), then the pope is free to just pick and choose whichever of the myriad movements he deigns to note as “what the Spirit intends”. The whole synod thing could be a mirage for giving the pope the stamp of approval of the Spirit for whatever he wants to do. Notice, for example, the fact that he is NOT telling the German bishops “you know, now that your synod says that you should have the local authority to decide X, then yes, in Germany you have the local authority to decide X.” He is pretty much telling the Germans the exact opposite.

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