April 19, 2005


Controversial Opus Dei Has Stake in Papal Vote (Larry B. Stammer and Tracy Wilkinson, April 19, 2005, LA Times)

When Pope John Paul II arrived at Opus Dei headquarters one March day 11 years ago, even members of the ultraconservative lay religious movement long accustomed to Vatican favor saw the visit as a singular moment in the group's ascendancy within the Roman Catholic Church.

The pope had come to pay his respects to Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the prelate of Opus Dei, who had died that day.

"He came over to pray before the body of Don Alvaro, which is a very unusual thing, to have a pope come over to your house to pray," said Father John Wauck, a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, an Opus Dei institution in Rome. [...]

Others note that for the first time, two of the 115 voting cardinals — Julian Herranz of Spain and Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Peru — are members of Opus Dei, giving the group the ability to work inside the conclave.

"They have a chance to lobby the other cardinals from an inside position," said an official with a lay organization that has close ties to the Vatican. "Opus Dei has international connections, they know many cardinals, are appreciated by some. They are entitled to talk to cardinals, to invite them to dinner, all with authority."

Several European cardinals are sympathetic to Opus Dei, among them Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Italian prelate who runs the Diocese of Rome on behalf of the pope, and a contender to succeed John Paul. Ruini last year opened proceedings to declare Opus Dei's Del Portillo a saint.

But recently, several Italian newspapers breathlessly reported that the two Opus Dei cardinals were throwing their support behind the candidacy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German-born traditionalist who has served as chief enforcer of church doctrine for two decades.

Pope John Paul II understood the value of keeping the Puritans inside the Church.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2005 6:12 AM
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