Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei
by Robert Hutchison purports to expose the inner workings of an extremely conservative Catholic organization headquartered in Rome, whose members include the Pope's personal secretary, his spokesman, and several of his close ministers. These leaders are supported by 80,000 other believers around the world. Opus Dei is Latin for "God's Work," and Hutchison believes that Opus Dei's divine devotions include the operation of a media network as large as Rupert Murdoch's; immense financial support of the Church; and the preparation for a new Crusade against Islam. Their Kingdom Come
paints Opus Dei as a Catholic conspiracy to infiltrate the world's upper echelons of political, financial, and educational power, and suggests that the group especially prizes its Mafia connections. Hutchison, a Swiss journalist who has written for the Sunday Telegraph
and Toronto's Financial Post
, weakens some of his arguments with cheap shots (chapter titles include "Moneybags Theology" and "Opus Octopus"), and he leans too heavily on anonymous sources for his most scandalous accusations. The few Opus Dei members whom he does identify, do, however, evince a steely, dogmatic self-confidence: "We have been chosen by God to save the Church," says one; "We have an orthodox vision that is pure, certain, solid, assured of everything," intones another. Opus Dei is the pope's only Personal Prelature, a privileged bishopric with no geographical boundaries. Learning more about the group is worth a reader's time, and Their Kingdom Come
is a fine, though flawed, way to begin that endeavor. --Michael Joseph Gross
From Publishers Weekly
Hutchison has chosen a tricky subject: a secretive Catholic organization that can easily provoke the old prejudices against Catholics involving secrecy and conspiracies. It's to his credit, then, that his report on Opus Dei ("God's Work"), a small, little-known but powerful lay organization within the Catholic church, is a responsible piece of investigative reporting. Both politically and theologically conservative (many would say reactionary), Opus Dei has, according to Hutchison, flourished during the papacy of John Paul II: "John Paul II's closest advisers were the men of Opus Dei... which, through his help, had become the Church's only Personal Prelature, that is to say, a privileged bishopric without a territory." The organization's aggressive recruiting of influential professionals in business, media, finance and government has enabled it to amass enormous backroom influence. Hutchison presents a mixed chronological and thematic account of Opus Dei's development, from the provincial family background of Spanish founder Josemar!a Escriv de Balaguer (1902-1975) to its present role intensifying lines of conflict with fundamentalist Islam. While Hutchison puts readers right in the middle of various complex financial/political scandals, his narrative slips rapidly from thread to thread, exacerbating the inherent confusion of such secretive dealings. He touches on important theological, philosophical and moral issues, but fails to use them systemically to illuminate Opus Dei's rivalries with others on the right or its profound hostility to progressives such as Pope John XXIII. Ultimately, while the book is packed with meticulous detail, Hutchison never weaves his findings into a coherent evaluative framework. Photos, illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.