VATICAN CITY – Stating that he wanted to highlight the spiritual gifts of Opus Dei and its contributions to the evangelization activities of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said he will now work with the Dicastery for Clergy and would answer to him rather than to the Dicastery for Bishops.
In the apostolic letter “Ad Charisma Tuendum” (“For the protection of the charism”), published by the Vatican on July 22, Pope Francis also declared that the head of the personal prelature of Opus Dei “will not be made , nor shall he be able to be made a bishop.
Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, who was elected as an Opus Dei prelate and endorsed by Pope Francis in 2017, said that while the first two Opus Dei prelates were bishops, “the episcopal ordination of the prelate was not and is not necessary for the leadership of Opus Dei.”
Pope Francis said his decision was intended to “reinforce the conviction that, for the protection of the particular gift of the Spirit, a form of government based more on charisma than on hierarchical authority is necessary.”
“The pope’s desire to highlight the charismatic dimension of the Work (Opus Dei)” rather than its hierarchical structure, “invits us henceforth to strengthen the family climate of affection and trust: the prelate must be a guide but , above all, a father”. ,” Ocáriz said in a July 22 statement.
In his letter, issued “motu proprio,” or on his own initiative, Pope Francis said that when St. John Paul II established Opus Dei as the first personal prelature in 1982, he did so to safeguard its charism , especially his contributions to the evangelizing mission of the church by “spreading the call to holiness in the world, through the sanctification of work and family and social commitments”.
Unlike a diocese or a territorial prelature, a personal prelature brings together clerics and lay people engaged in the same missionary or apostolic work. It can have its own seminaries and priests, as Opus Dei does.
Pope Francis noted that his new constitution on the Roman Curia gives the Dicastery for the Clergy responsibility for relations with personal prelatures, “of which the only one erected to date is that of Opus Dei.”
Opus Dei has about 93,400 members, including about 2,300 priests incarnated in the prelature; 2,000 other priests are associated with Opus Dei but remain attached to their dioceses.