Pope Francis has transferred the guardianship of the Prelature of Opus Dei from the Dicastery for Bishops to the Dicastery for Clergy.
Pope Francis has transferred the guardianship of the Prelature of Opus Dei from the Dicastery for Bishops to the Dicastery for the Clergy, in an Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio titled “Ad charisma tuendum” (“To Safeguard the Charism”) published on July 22.
The Pontiff explained the change saying that he considered it necessary for the Prelature to develop “a form of governance based more on charism than on hierarchical authority.”
This change in governance was presented in Praedicate Evangelium on March 19. Praedicate implied certain changes from the Apostolic Constitution Ut sit (1982) – by which John Paul II founded the Prelature – and with regard to the statutes of Opus Dei.
The motto proprio now adapts Ut sit to Praedicate Evangelium.
Quoting the Polish Pope and Benedict XVI, the Pope explained that he wanted Opus Dei to remain “a valid and effective instrument” and that this Motu Proprio therefore aims to “confirm the Prelature in the authentically charismatic domain of the Church.”
In March, when Praedicate was published, the prelate explained in a note that it “changes the ordinary department for communication with the Holy See (many of the matters about which the Prelature normally deals with the Roman Curia are related to its presbyterate), but in no way modifies the essential nature of the Prelature of Opus Dei.”
The superior to no longer have rank of bishop
For the “Prelature of the Holy Cross,” this change now means that its prelate – its superior – will no longer be a bishop.
Since the election of the Spanish priest Fernando Ocáriz to this position in 2017, this was already the case in practice.
In replying to the motu proprio, Monsignor Ocáriz noted, “The episcopal ordination of the Prelate was not and is not necessary for the guidance of Opus Dei. The Pope’s desire to highlight the charismatic dimension of the Work now invites us to reinforce the family atmosphere of affection and trust: the Prelate must be a guide but, above all, a father.”
The prelate will no longer wear the “pontifical insignia” – the pastoral ring, pectoral cross, crozier and mitre – external and distinctive marks of the episcopal dignity, and will use the title “supernumerary apostolic protonotary” with the address “Reverend Monsignor.”
The prelate will need to present an annual “report on the state of the prelature and on the accomplishment of its apostolic work” to the prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, currently Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik.
This dicastery will be in charge of all matters previously handled by the Congregation for Bishops from the time the Motu Proprio comes into effect on August 4.
Founded in 1928 by St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Opus Dei is an organization that promotes sanctification through work for both lay people and priests. It began as a pious union, became a secular institute, and then a “personal prelature” – an institution created by Vatican II to ensure the distribution of priests according to particular needs.
Opus Dei is the only such organization so far.
In 2020, Opus Dei had 2,122 priests, 33 bishops, and 93,300 lay members.