CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

Vice-President of FECRIS Attacks the Canonization of Opus Dei Founder

Confirming that FECRIS, the European federation of secular anti-cult organizations which had a privileged relation with the (former) French government, does not limit its attacks to movements outside the mainline churches, a declaration by FECRIS' vice-president, the Austrian Friedrich Griess, attacks the canonization as a Catholic saint of the founder of Opus Dei. Griess' declaration follows:
"I am deeply concerned by the attitude of the Opus Dei to deny that psychological and social harm can be caused by mind control methods used by groups commonly known as cults. Opus Dei and their sympathizers follow a theory of the Italian lawyer Massimo Introvigne which says that anybody critizising a group for other than theological matters is an atheistic enemy of every religion. This was expressed by a brochure edited in autumn 1997 by the Opus Dei in Vienna and also in the book Opus Dei: Un indigne, by Vittorio Messori who in chapter 3 of this book quoted Introvigne through several pages. Unfortunately, the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schoenborn, supported this theory and contributed to the brochure by an article where he also referred to Massimo Introvigne and to Gordon Melton. The latter even defended the AUM Shinrikyo cult known by the Sarin poison gas attack in 1995 in the subway of Tokyo. This theory is in strict contradiction to a report about the cult problem edited in 1986 by the Vatican and unnecessary to say it seems to be a means to hide that Opus Dei itself practices the methods which had been critizised by the named Vatican ducument. I have experienced myself what it means if a dear child falls victim to such methods of infantilising and depersonalisation, which also have been propagated by the founder of the Opus Dei, and I have dedicated the rest of my life to warn against such methods and against any groups using them."
The declaration appeared (and later disappeared) in an anti-Opus Dei Web site (http://home.earthlink.net/~clasen/comments_letter_pope.htm). We have left is at it is, including typos ("indigne" for "indagine") and obvious fallacies (the "preliminary" report of 1986 is obviously superseded by the general relation in the Consistory of 1999, consecrated to new religious movements and usually conveniently ignored by anti-cultists; nowhere did I or CESNUR claim that anybody criticizing a group for other than theological matters is an atheistic enemy of religion - otherwise, we should presumably be atheistic enemies of religion ourselves, because of our non-theological criticism of al-Qa'ida and bin Laden; etc). While an irrelevant collection of stereotypes as far as Opus Dei - or the canonization of its founder - is concerned, the declaration is worth noting as a warning to those regarding FECRIS as becoming more "moderate" than it used to be, or as a potential ally of the mainline churches.

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