“Opus Dei’s Influence is Felt in All of Washington’s Corridors of Power”

The Opus Dei Catholic Information Center’s “members and leaders continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. It is the conservative spiritual and intellectual center … and its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power,” stated the Washington Post.

In the past two decades, the center’s “K Street NW location, just two blocks from the White House, became a bustling gathering place for conservative academics, politicians, journalists, young professionals.”  “The noon Mass became known as a ‘Who’s Who’ scene in conservative circles” including "Judge Robert H. Bork, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), economist Larry Kudlow and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).”

Opus Dei's influence is enormous in the U.S. judiciary.

“The center’s board includes Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, which helped shepherd the Supreme Court nominations of Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch. White House counsel Pat Cipollone is a former board member, as is William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and is now President Trump’s nominee for the same position.”  Barr, a “committed Catholic,” was highly recommended  by Leonard Leo.

The U.S. judiciary has been shaped not only through Leo’s control over Trump’s judicial appointments but also by the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) directed by Leo and run by Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for supreme court justice Clarence Thomas.

The JCN is a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning its donors are secret. "It has spent millions across the country to influence the elections of judges and attorneys general as well as judicial appointment and confirmation processes.”

“Leo's efforts to ensure that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were confirmed engaged the dark money spending power of JCN. In 2005 and 2006, Leo and the Federalist Society worked with JCN to coordinate radio and online ads as well as on grassroots efforts to support the confirmation of the right-wing justices.

To block the appointment of Barack Obama's choice, Merrick Garland, and support the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, Leo helped coordinate the JCN's expenditure of $17 million. The campaign was highly effective in allowing Gorsuch, the Federalist Society's pick, to take the place many thought rightly belonged to Merrick Garland.”

What is Opus Dei

Opus Dei is a secret society and an official arm of the Catholic Church as I've noted before but bears repeating. Its roots are in fascist Spain 

In 1982, Pope John Paul II designated the group as a “personal prelature,” that is, they are under the sole jurisdiction of the pope and no other prelate. Its website states, “Opus Dei’s mission is to spread the Christian message that every person is called to holiness and that every honest work can be sanctified.” As of 2017 there were 92,892 lay members and 2,212 priests worldwide.

Non-Catholics are welcomed as “cooperators” who “assist the educational and social undertakings promoted by the Prelature.” Priests not ordained into Opus Dei can be a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, “intrinsically united to the Prelature.”

Only the identities of Opus Dei priests are public. Members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross and all lay members’ and cooperators’ names are secret unless self-disclosed, for example by being openly affiliated with the Catholic Information Center.

At the top:

"Opus Dei is an efficient machine run to achieve worldly power,” wrote investigative reporter Penny Lernoux in her book, People of God.

“Opus Dei pursues the Vatican’s agenda through the presence of its members in secular governments and institutions and through a vast array of academic, medical, and grassroots pursuits. Its constant effort [is] to increase its presence in civil institutions of power. [T]heir work in the public sphere breaches the church-state division that is fundamental to modern democracy,” noted Gordon Urquhart, author of The Pope’s Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church (1995).

“Opus Dei uses the Catholic Church for its own ends which are money and power …. Its members form a transnational elite. They seek to colonize the summits of power. They work with stealth – ‘holy discretion’ – and practice ‘divine deception,’” Robert Hutchison wrote in the introduction to his book, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei

“Opus Dei is mostly middle- and upper-class businessmen, professionals, military personnel and government officials. Its members control a large number of banks and financial institutions,” according to Martin A. Lee, author and activist who has written books and articles on far-right movements.

Other Government Agencies Influenced by Opus Dei

Because it is a secret society, usually we can only know government officials’ affiliations with Opus Dei.

Roger Severino, Carrie Severino’s husband, is Trump’s Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Severino was a trial attorney for seven years in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Larry Kudlow is Trump’s director of the National Economic Council. Plutocracy is “just what America needs,” Kudlow wrote in December 2016. “Putting the incredibly wealthy in charge of the U.S. government” is described as Kudlow’s great idea.

Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is now Trump’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Mick Mulvaney is serving as Trump’s acting White House Chief of Staff. He remains director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney “has reportedly met with a long list of lobbyists, corporate executives and wealthy people with business interests before the government.” His meeting with Opus Dei’s Jeff Bell, architect of Reaganomics, covered “religious and political matters.

As an example of  Opus Dei-affiliated military personnel, veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh “claimed that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Vice Admiral William McRaven and others in the JSOC were members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei.” JSOC is “the elite Special Ops force” who killed Osama bin Laden. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals … This is not an atypical attitude among some military - it’s a crusade, literally,” Hersh reported. “He added that members of these societies have developed a secret set of insignias that represent ‘the whole notion that this is a culture war’ between religions.”

Vatican Connection

That Newt Gingrich is close to Opus Dei helps explain Trump’s appointment of Callista Gingrich as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. (Newt’s three marriages would have raised eyebrows in the Vatican diplomatic corps even though the first two were annulled when he became Catholic and married Callista.)

Newt was an early and constant supporter of Trump. He provides Pope Francis with direct access to Trump. For Trump, he has trusted emissary in a diplomatic corps described as a “prime listening post” in global affairs.

Trump attended Callista’s swearing in ceremony in October 2017.

The U.S. Embassy to the Vatican also has a “Political and Economic Chief” and two “Political and Economic Officers.”

“Political” officers are understandable given that Trump and Pope Francis share so many positions such as restricting women’s access to abortion and contraception, restricting LGBTQI and transgender human rights and, most importantly, continued tax-payer funding of Catholic charities, schools and hospitals.

Pope Francis might have a more benign view on immigration, but he does agree that “a country has the right to protect its borders.” For all his rhetoric - and in spite of billions of dollars of personal income - Pope Francis has sponsored only six refugee families even though the Vatican owns “thousands” of apartments in Rome.

The necessity for "economic” officers is less obvious. The pope is also head of a global network that can act as a conduit for “dark money” thanks to “religious” exemptions granting the Church monetary secrecy in the world’s financial centers. That is a magnate for Opus Dei to maintain power inside the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis has made sure that the Vatican retains its expertise and capacity in this regard. He has has hired and appointed vulture capitalists and Opus Dei members and associates to manage his assets. And now he has an American ambassador and embassy staff as allies.

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EdMass's picture

is unequaled.

Why do I feel like I'm living in a Dan Brown novel? Tom Hanks will save the day?

Don't stop.

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7 users have voted.

Help me Mr. Wizard!

Drizzle, Drazzle, Druzzle, Drome;
Time for this one to come home.

Stop the War!

The Supreme Court obviously has a disproportionate number of Catholic Justices. I believe that is because of the Church's stand on abortion. "Are you an observant Catholic?" may be seen as a less controversial question than, "Do you oppose Roe v. Wade?"

The ability of a fetus to survive outside the body of the mother played a significant role in the rationale of Roe v. Wade. With scientific advances in that respect since the early 1970s, when Roe was decided, it would be very easy to narrow Roe v. Wade considerably.

For those who have forgotten or never knew: Roe v. Wade balanced the interest of the mother, or pregnant woman, against the interest of the state in protecting the lives of its citizens. The first trimester was pretty much placed in the discretion of the mother, the third, in the discretion of the state and the second trimester was the most complex. In later cases, Justice O'Connor, while she sat on the Court, always insisted that the health of the mother be considered.

The increasing ability to sustain the life of a fetus outside the body of the mother will weigh against reproductive choice during the second trimester. Some women may not even know they are pregnant during the first trimester.

I would be remiss, however, if I did not point out that the Family, or the Fellowship, while not Catholic, have also been very influential in Washington and are also anti-choice. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family:_The_Secret_Fundamentalism_at_t... This is the group that persuaded Eisenhower that including "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance would rebuke the then-atheist Soviet Union.g

They believe that those God has called to rule are not subject to the laws of man or God! As an example, Family member, Mark Appalachian Trail Sanford chillingly cited King David, who tried to arrange for the death of Bathsheba's husband after clapping eyes on Bathsheba while she was having a bath, yet remained so favored of God that the lineage of Joseph was traced back to David. (This is puzzling, since Jews believe that the mother's lineage is the one that matters and Joseph supposedly was not even related to Jesus by blood, but whatever: the Bible traces only Joseph's ancestry.)

And, it was The Family to whom Hillary turned for spiritual solace (or optics) after Lewinsky hit the fan.

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gulfgal98's picture

@HenryAWallace Has three Jewish justices, five Catholic justices and one Episcopalian who was raised Catholic. When these numbers are compared to the United States population as a whole, they do not come close to representing the religious affiliations or non-affiliations of this country. I have read that when Ruth Bader Ginsberg steps down, which I believe will happen in the near future, Trump's three top names he is considering are all Catholics.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

"Propaganda is one hell of a drug." Abby Martin

"politicians are cowards." Mike Gravel

@gulfgal98

The irony is that virtually all of the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution were not Catholics or Jews. They were either Deists or liberal Protestants. So we have Catholics and Jews interpreting what Protestants and Deists wrote.

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dkmich's picture

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism - it is all an anchor on society and the enlightenment of the human species. In the name of individual freedom, I suppose people should be free to practice whatever form of sorcery they choose as long as they aren't performing clitoridectomies or denying medical care, but religion deserves no sanctioned place in schools, government, or society.

The crooks on K street and in the churches use manipulation, lies, and human frailty to do their bidding.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

ggersh's picture

“The center’s board includes Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, which helped shepherd the Supreme Court nominations of Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch. White House counsel Pat Cipollone is a former board member, as is William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and is now President Trump’s nominee for the same position.” Barr, a “committed Catholic,” was highly recommended by Leonard Leo.

I know the separation of church and state shit but this brings
it all up to a whole new level no?

at counterpunch https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/18/roaming-charges-sometimes-an-est...

+ Trump had to reach pretty deep into the recycling bin to extract the rusty figure of William Barr as a loyal replacement for J. Beauregard Sessions at the Justice Department. After he dusted him off, what did Trump see in this relic from the Poppy Bush era, that shiny reign of triumphant globalists which Trump publicly claims to loath? A cursory scan of Barr’s CV, which is about as deep a look as Trump is likely to have given, shows all the field marks of a well-worn grey man of Swamptown, a malted Scotch institutionalist, if not an honorary member of the Deep State itself. Surely Trump hesitated when he read, or more likely was told, of Barr’s stint at the Central Intelligence Agency, though the president must have been at least partly placated upon learning that Barr was an Asia hand, who was eager to promote Red China as a more menacing rival to US imperial ambitions than the decaying Soviet Union. Still, once Barr landed in Washington in the early 70s, he quickly adapted to the local habitat and for the next 40 years didn’t migrant beyond the Beltway. So what attracted Trump to this unlikely character?

+ In a word: Pardons. As Poppy’s attorney General, Barr was the man who tidied up the Iran/contra mess and gut-punched Independence Counsel Lawrence Walsh by crafting a sheaf of midnight pardons for the criminal masterminds of that squalid affair, including Casper Weinberger who had perjured himself before Congress. (See Sy Hersh’s “The Vice President’s Men“) The pardons were issued on Christmas Eve just a few days before Bush was ushered out the backdoor of the White House. A disgusted Lawrence Walsh later wrote in his book, Firewall: the Iran/Contra Conspiracy and Cover Up: “It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office, deliberately abusing the public trust without consequences,” This is, of course, exactly kind of legal mercenary that Trump was searching for when excavating through the strata of resumés of possible lawyers to do his bidding. Sometimes an establishment hack is just what you need.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." William Casey, CIA Director 1st staff meeting, 1981

“USA will export two things soon, jack and squat. no planes, no cars soon.”

gulfgal98's picture

Your in depth research into the Catholic church has shown a bright light into this institution that functions more like a deep state unto itself than an institution whose mission is to save souls and lives.

EdMass said it very well.

Why do I feel like I'm living in a Dan Brown novel?

I hope you will continue to post regularly here. As a non-Catholic, I have learned so much from your essays.

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10 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

"Propaganda is one hell of a drug." Abby Martin

"politicians are cowards." Mike Gravel

getting deeper. Damn, how deep are you willing to dig? It seems like This tar pit is bottomless in its abuse, corruption and influence.
Oh! You were writing about the Chuch, not the duopoly?
Comment still applicable.

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

gulfgal98's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly Betty Clermont is a known author who has been investigating the Catholic Church for some time.

I welcome her essays here because they are definitely related to the world wide deep state of which the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is an integral part in my opinion.

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9 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

"Propaganda is one hell of a drug." Abby Martin

"politicians are cowards." Mike Gravel

@gulfgal98 offense to the writer or critique of the post. My flippant remark above was merely a backhanded way of saying be careful crawling through shit, some of it sticks when you climb out. The poster has chosen a Deep pit to crawl through and although this is a small blog, vampire squid has tentacles everywhere.
For the record, if the Catlick Church disappeared Today(without wrecking Rome), I'd probably pull a Snoopy 'Happy Dance'! If it was followed quickly by the rest(of religion) I'd explode into stardust being so happy!
Proud Infidel to Every invisible guy in the sky bullshit story.
And now you know. . .

fuck

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7 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Ugly, (I greatly admire your humility) I only wish I had the resources of a true investigative reporter. Opus Dei is a worldwide organization that really hasn't been professionally researched since Robert Hutchison wrote his book published in the late 1990s and undated in 2006. This group needs to be exposed for who and what they are.

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Betty Clermont

@Betty Clermont but I Think you might be meaning gg98 above.
I've Rarely been accused of having humility. Or at least Displaying it, anyway.

peace

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Founders of this country, there was a deep distrust of the Catholic Church in Rome. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and others feared that the powerful impulse of catholicism to take over governments and cultures would corrupt what they were trying to achieve with democracy here in America. That suspicion was behind much of the country's early treatment of American catholics. Now, the Church in America is constantly moaning about prejudice against Catholicism etc. AND YET, they have actually proven the Founders fears to be valid.

It was not only the religious wars in Europe that gave the Founders pause, but also the horrific history of the Roman Catholic Church's treatment of native populations all over the world.

So we are faced not only with the corruption of our government by these forces, but a growing recognition that the institution behind the religion has for centuries abused children and women. Until we all start agreeing that no religious opinion is beyond vocal skepticism and inquiry, we will continue to suffer the take over of our country by a radical minority. Only 22% of the American people are self identified Catholics. About 23-25% of the populations identifies themselves as atheist/agnostic. Non-belief is the fastest rising group in the country. Now if we can just translate those numbers into actual power and start shrinking the hold that religion has on our government, democracy just might have a chance.

Thanks once again Betty for all your hard work. I'm so glad you are being published here and receiving the kind of respect for your work that you never had at DKos.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

@Fishtroller 02 Your comments are always welcomed - intelligent and learned on the subject of the Church. Yes, we need to shrink the hold that religion has on our government for the sake of our democracy.

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Betty Clermont