Washington Post: Santorum’s link to Opus Dei

An interesting look at an area of the candidate’s life that has gone largely unexplored:

In January 2002, prominent Catholics from around the world gathered in Rome to celebrate the Spanish priest who founded one of the church’s most conservative and devout groups, Opus Dei.

The event drew cardinals, bishops and other powerful Vatican officials. And among those invited to speak was a future presidential candidate: Rick Santorum, whose faith had become so essential to his politics that on federal documents he listed the trip, paid for by an Opus Dei foundation, as part of his official duties as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

In a speech at the gathering, Santorum embraced the ideas of Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva, who had urged ordinary Catholics to bring an almost priestly devotion to Catholic principles in every realm of life and work.

During Senate debates about abortion, Santorum told the audience in Rome, he hears Escriva telling him that “it is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully.” In his public fight to uphold “absolute truths,” Santorum said, “blessed Josemaria guides my way.”

“ ‘As long as you are making straight for your goal, head and heart intoxicated with God, why worry . . . ?’ ” Santorum said, quoting Escriva, according to a transcript of the speech.

Within the story of how Santorum grew up and decided to run for president, there is the story of a boy who grew up to become ever more devoutly Catholic, a journey all the more relevant as Santorum has vigorously asserted a role for religious conviction in the realm of governance.

On Tuesday, Santorum will face a showdown with Mitt Romney in the Illinois Republican primary, which comes aftersignificant wins in Alabama and Mississippi. In his victory speech last week, Santorum —whose wife has said her husband believes “God is calling” him to seek the presidency — said what he hears most often from voters is “I’m praying for you.”

The man they are praying for was raised in the liberalizing church of the early 1970s and has since taken several turns toward the deeply conservative Catholicism that now anchors his worldview. There was his marriage to Karen Garver and the influence of her devoutly Catholic parents. There was the death of Santorum’s infant son Gabriel in 1996. All have been part of the candidate’s public narrative.

Less well known is Santorum’s embrace of the Catholicism of Opus Dei, a relatively small yet influential group within the church that is defined by the intensity with which followers are urged to live out church doctrine — in Escriva’s words, to “seek holiness” in all realms of life.

Read more.


  1. WAPO won’t let you read the article unless you give them your email address (riiiight) but this line is visible: “Santorum … is not a member of Opus Dei, according to the group, and it is not clear to what degree he adheres to its tenets.” Okay, so what exactly is the story about, then? Are we going to be blessed by WAPO with a dozen article on groups that S does not belong to?

  2. Yawn. WaPo trying to dredge up their Dan Brown fantasies about scary Opus Dei and albino monks. Very dated.

  3. Kathy Schiffer says:

    Gotta agree, this is not much “news.” Had to smile, though, seeing the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Those happy women turn up everywhere!

  4. I agree. Santorum is NOT a member of OD, but many have tried to IMPLY that he is. The reason is obvious: one more “wacko belief” to exploit, thanks to, as Kevin points out, Dan Brown.

  5. I had to click on the full text just to see how much further I’d have to read before we hit the cilice. BOOM! Three lines down. I’m not a supporter of Mr Santorum, and I think the taxpayers might question funding his trip to Rome (not like we don’t fund any number of other junkets, though), but I do think there’s nothing necessarily inflammatory about his choice to follow the teachings of Opus Dei’s founder regarding the integration of faith with every aspect of life. That only seems strange to people who think faith is something one leaves politely behind in the pew so as not to get any on anyone else.

    And it’s funny. Catholicism itself is apparently no longer enough of a scary, secretive international conspiracy. Now we have to expose the scary, secretive riddles within the enigma. Yawn. Why don’t they go after Romney’s holy underwear?

  6. I am much more interested in the issues. Some background information tells us some about what candidates think about the issues, but we already have much information (and mis-information) to sift through.

  7. No, what we need is more mediocre Catholics. Joe Biden for Peesident . . .

  8. Irish Spectre says:

    Actually the article states that Opus Dei paid for the trip, not taxpayers.

  9. Rick Santorum is probably the most personally devout Roman Catholic to run for President since the late US Senator Eugene McCarthy. Each in their own way was a prophetic witness, and each was condemned for it.

    McCarthy was not fated to become the nominee of his party (let alone get elected as President) and neither is Santorum. That’s the way it usually goes for prophetic voices.

  10. Jeff Stevens says:

    Oh no! Not a group that intensely follows a call for everyone to “seek holiness”! What a bizarre cultish group! Clearly dangerous, should be investigated by Congress!

  11. Oh, yes, Joe Biden. What a clown!! The latest from him is that yesterday he called the capture of OBL the “most audacious thing that was planned in 500 years.” Read more about it here: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/03/biden-bin-laden-killing-most-audacious-plan-in-years-117961.html

    Tell us again why Obama selected him as VP?

  12. Mark, that is what a set-up line. I have a million reasons but I would probably get banned from the site.

  13. Last I knew, ALL Catholics are called to holiness. Be a saint!

  14. The more I hear about Santorum, the more I like him. His nomination and election both seem like long shots – the nomination more so than the election. I know all things are possible with God, but as for Santorum getting elected president – I don’t have a clue as to whether that will indeed happen or not. Right now, it looks like it will not.

    I certainly hope for someone who governs with the awareness that “power corrupts” and isn’t blind to that corrupting influence in businessmen (in the case of Republicans) and doesn’t think that government officials are magically immune to it either (in the case of Democrats).

  15. Mark Greta says:

    Agree ND. I think the way this story is again a non story because it kind of indicates that Santorum has links to Opus Dei, but then admits he is not a member.

    I thought that the media was not interested in links and downplays them like the Obama links to those who blew up buildings in terror attacks. Lets move on with anything concerning all of Obama’s past, but lets see if we can make up distortions about everyone else.

    This is why many no longer tune into any part of the MSM. Everytime we hve it shown to us in this and other ways, it shows the total luancy of the left and their MSM propoganda machine.

  16. Frankly, both Santorum and Romney scare me. And the media talks about Ron Paul being “too radical.” He’s only radical enough to get us back in the black financially, back on track to our roots under the Constitution, and back to a sound monetary system. Wow! How wacko!

    Umm, no; let’s vote for one of the three stooges…either one of the two whose aim it is to enforce their church’s power on the People and take our religious freedom from us, or the loose cannon, serial cheater.

  17. Amen brother.
    Question: To which of the following does this statement NOT apply? “He is a big government crony capitalist war monger who thinks the state should tell people how to live their lives.”

    a. President Obama
    b. Mitt Romney
    c. Newt Gingrich
    d. Rick Santorum
    e. Ron Paul

    Hint: There is only one correct answer.

  18. Uggg strike “brother” replace with “sister.” Note to self. Proofreading is your friend…

  19. I guess we all have our fears. My fear with Ron Paul is that he might try to reason with those who are unreasonable and either get a large number of us killed or get an ill-advised disruptive economic change passed that while well intended, is poisoned to cause widespread economic displacements. I fear that primarily in foreign affairs, but I also fear that all of his good intentions to get us back to limited government may backfire because he will be up against unreasonable people domestically as well.

    As for Santorum enforcing his church’s power on the People to take away religious freedom – please. As I remember my history, it was the Catholics in Maryland (Maryland Toleration Act, a precursor to the first amendment) who wanted the religious freedom clause in the first amendment the most of all. I would really like to have religious freedom from secularists who have taken my money by force to use it for purposes that are grossly wasteful to intrinsically evil according to Catholic teaching. I see no problem with making sure that the government does not force me to participate in an intrinsic evil, and I think that would be the extent of Santorum’s “taking religious freedom from us.”

  20. Fiergenholt says:

    Apparently you, among other folks, believe that Maryland was a safe-haven for English Catholics. That’s not at all true.

    The absolutely most tolerant of the original 13 colonies was Pennsylvania. William Penn’s Quakers were way too small to effectively govern the vastness of that area and Penn welcomed everyone — no questions asked.

    –The Catholic Church of Saint Joseph in Philadelphia has the current honor of being the second oldest parish in our country (beaten out only by St. Ann in Detroit — which was founded by Canadians under the Diocese of Montreal and only transferred to the US many years after the Constitution was created)

    –Just down the street, literally, was the Catholic Church of St. Mary. It was the largest physical church in Philadelphia during that Revolutionary era and hosted the opening sessions of the “Continental Congress” (the governing body of the now independent colonies after the Revolution but before the Constitution was created) on at least three different occasions.

    –If there are any Catholic fore-fathers who can be traced back to Revolutionary times — let’s say because someone currently wants to join the DAR — those Catholic forefathers will not be found in Maryland. During that era, Maryland BANNED Catholics from being members of the State Militia — and thus part of their contribution to the Continental Army. Catholic families I know who have done that DAR/SAR tracing have found forefathers serving in those Revolutionary forces primarily from Pennsylvania although Virginia had no qualms about Catholics serving in their State Militia.

  21. I do not hold that Maryland was the safest haven for Catholics among the colonies – in fact the Catholics there pressed for that law to protect them – so there must have been something that needed to be protected against. The point was that the Tolerance Act had ideas in it that were incorporated into the first amendment of the constitution. Thus, the very idea that a devout Catholic would take away religious freedom from others seems to me to be questionable. My only qualm about the first amendment concerns whether it can be construed by the courts as protecting evil religious practices that involve the taking of human life – such as so-called “honor killings.” The religious practices of Satanic cults also come to mind as those that should NOT be protected. The Tolerance Act’s limitation of religious freedom to “trinitarian Christianity” appears to have been an attempt along those lines.

  22. People may be interested in Get Religion’s take on the article:

  23. ND, first on concerns about religious freedom and liberty, we are still held to other laws of the land. If my religion involves killing someone, the law against this killing kicks in. Religious freedom was first and formost about preventing here what happened in Europe which was a name state denomination such as Church of England or Roman Catholic. They certainly would not have even contemplated an America where the courts would create a secular atheist state and use it to remove religious liberty from everyone else.

    But also remember that at the same time the First Amendment was passed, so were the other nine including the tenth amendment liberals love to hate and try to ignore. The Federal government was also to have none or very limited power in regard to what went on in the individual states. So to the federal government, it did not matter if maryland was not a Catholic State or if Virginia was anglican. What they all wanted from the federal government was religious liberty where one could practice their faith (providing it did not break other laws) as they pleased. Thus if someone wants to go to their basement and dance around for Satan, it is their religious right. If somone does not want to pray at school, no one should force them to stand up and pray. But the first cannot be taken without also clearly looking at the tenth. We cannot be cafeteria Constitutionalist and we certainly should not be allowed to change the words and meaning by court or any other means except a constitutional amendment.

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