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Opus Dei
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    (October 2, 1928- )
    Founded by Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975)
    Headquartered in New York City
    Prelature of the Catholic Church
    Approximately 80,000 members (2005)
    Membership classes include Numerary, Supernumerary, Assistants, Associates, Priests and Cooperators
    They were thrust into the spotlight when featured in Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code.’
    Some theologians consider them a ‘fascist’ cult, accusing them of brainwashing and coercion.
    Their position within the Catholic Church is greatly debated.
    Their practice of corporal mortification (inflicting pain upon oneself) perplexes many.
    Some members wear a cilice (spiked chain) around their waist for up to two hours a day.
    Members are advised to only take cold showers.
    Members have limited access to ‘outside’ information and may only read pre-approved literature.
    Critics of Pope Benedict XVI were concerned by his alleged Opus Dei ties.
    They were rumored to have political connections with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
    They encourage their members to ‘hide’ their practices from relatives.
    Male members are allowed to smoke, female members are not.
    ‘Opus Dei’ is Latin for ‘Work of God.’
    They are dedicated, devout Christians.
    Their founder, Saint Josemaria Escriva, was canonized by the Catholic Church (2002).
    Their mission is to help people find God in their everyday lives.
    They treat people from all economic backgrounds as equals.
    They believe members should choose work which benefits society.
    They are active in many community organizations and charities.
    They dismiss criticism by stating all members who join are consenting adults.

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