Sunday, May 21, 2006

Opus Dei, Crime Library, Hanssen, Da Vinci Code, Heritage Foundation

Robert Philip Hanssen was one of the FBI's most trusted agents and a valued colleague of Bureau Director Louis J. Freeh. But despite Hanssen's outward appearance, the model agent was leading a double life -- selling secrets to the Russian government that would destroy painstaking intelligence work and compromise a number of closely guarded national security secrets. If there were one place that Hanssen did belong, it was Opus Dei reports Crime Library. The group, founded in 1928, had just 84,000 members worldwide--3,000 in the U.S.--but its new $55 million, 17-story building in midtown Manhattan reflected a power far beyond its numbers. At least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court was said to be a member and the head of the FBI, Louis Freeh, was also rumored to belong. Still, even Catholics conceded that the group was controversial. Many members practiced self-flagellation, beating themselves while praying. Others wore the cilice, a spiked bracelet worn two hours a day around the thighs. Though the pain was supposed to replicate the agony of Christ at his crucifixion, most had difficulty understanding why such practices were necessary in a modern world. And since the group was private if not secret, rumors abounded. What was its goal? One of them, critics said, was to elect Opus Dei members as heads of countries and establish new governments where church and state are one.

DaVinci Code brings curiosity.
If more people worldwide and in the United States actually knew people in Opus Dei, then the portrayal in The Da Vinci Code would obviously be laughable," says spokesman Brian Finnerty, a 21-year member....But if The Da Vinci Code has spurred Opus Dei to new openness, so has it provided opportunities for critics - among them, former residents of Opus Dei centers who accuse the organization of conducting aggressive recruiting, alienating members from their families and pressuring them against leaving...Opus Dei was exactly what Patrick F. Fagan, a research fellow specializing in family and cultural issues at the Heritage Foundation was looking for.