Pope Francis reduces Opus Dei’s autonomy

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The reforms announced on Friday (5) by Pope Francis that reduce the autonomy and formal independence of the Opus Dei congregation are also intended to act on poles of concentration of power within the Catholic Church and promote integration between different groups in the dioceses.

This is the scholarly analysis of the papal document Ad charisma tuendum (To protect the charisma).

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Opus Dei had been elevated in 1982 by Pope John Paul II to the category of a personal prelature, that is, a hierarchically structured part of the Church, with a prelate (leader), priests and deacons.

This privilege, unique in the world, equated the congregation with a diocese, although it did not have a specific territory. The pope changed the status of the prelate, who will no longer be distinguished with the office of bishop and will not be able to wear an episcopal ring or robe. From now on, his title will be “supernumerary apostolic protonotary”.

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According to the document, the measure intends that the form of government of Opus Dei be “based more on charisma than on hierarchical authority”. Charisma can be understood as the very spirit and DNA of the institution, which must be above formal positions.

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Francisco Borba Ribeiro Neto, coordinator of the Faith and Culture Nucleus at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC/SP), observes that the changes to Opus Dei are part of a process to increase collegiality and reduce the influence of the poles of concentration of power.

“Within this logic, the changes remove the bishop’s position from the prelate, which leads to the need for a greater integration of the organization as a whole with the diocesan bishops”, says the professor.

This is the same assessment made by Rodrigo Coppe, professor of the postgraduate program in Religious Sciences at PUC Minas. “It is an attempt to take away autonomy from the group”.

Neto observes, however, that the greatest difficulty within the dioceses is not of a formal nature, but of the capacity of articulating different groups.

“In general, Opus Dei participants and supporters are already experiencing integration with their dioceses. Where dioceses have this capacity for articulation, Opus Dei is already integrated. Where dioceses do not have this capability, formal change will have little practical effect.”

In addition to the change in the prelate’s status, Opus Dei will report to the Dicastery for the Clergy, an administrative division of the Roman Curia that analyzes issues related to priests and deacons and oversees the religious education of Catholics.

The institution must also present an annual report on the “development of its apostolic work”. Until now, the Work, as Opus Dei is also known, only had to deliver a similar document every five years to the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body to which it was linked.

The information is from the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.

Source: CNN Brasil

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