Fresh from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith through VIS is some much needed clarification on the status of Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, commonly referred to as Opus Angelorum, or "OA". First, the note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After the brief history is given, I embolden some key points and make use of highlighting to really add emphasis. I will provide a few notes at the bottom.
CONGREGATION FOR DOCTRINE OF FAITH ON "OPUS ANGELORUM"
VATICAN CITY, 4 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the English-language version of a circular letter issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated 2 October and signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation. The letter was published today by "L'Osservatore Romano" and concerns the current doctrinal and canonical position of the association known as "Opus Angelorum".
More than thirty years ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began to examine the theories and practices of the association called Opus Angelorum (Engelwerk). At the present time, the dicastery believes that it would be helpful for the bishops of [episcopal conferences] to be informed regarding the developments which have taken place in these years, so that they may exercise effective oversight in this area.
I. The initial examination was brought to a conclusion with the publication of a letter on 24 September 1982, communicating certain decisions approved by the Holy Father (AAS 76 , 175-176); this letter was followed by a Decree entitled 'Litteris diei' of 6 June 1992 (AAS 84 , 805-806).
In essence, these two documents stated that, in promoting devotion to the Holy Angels, the members of the Opus Angelorum were to follow the doctrine of the Church and the teaching of the Church Fathers and Doctors. In particular, the members were not to make use of the "names" of angels derived from the alleged private revelations attributed to Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich and they were not to teach, spread or make use of the theories originating from these alleged revelations. Furthermore, they were reminded of the duty to follow strictly all liturgical laws, in particular those relating to the Holy Eucharist. The Decree of 1992 entrusted the implementation of these measures to a delegate named by the Holy See and possessing special faculties; he was also given the task of regularising the relationship between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross.
In the years that followed, the delegate, Fr. Benoit Duroux O.P., successfully completed the work entrusted to him. Today, thanks to the obedience of its members, the Opus Angelorum can be considered to be living loyally and serenely in conformity with the doctrine of the Church and with canonical and liturgical law. On 13 March 2010, given the advanced age of Fr. Duroux, Fr. Daniel Ols O.P. was named delegate, with the same powers as described in the Decree of 1992.
The process of normalisation can be seen in particular in the following elements. On 31 May 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved the formula of a consecration to the Holy Angels for the Opus Angelorum. Having received the positive opinion of this dicastery, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life approved the "Statutes of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum", in which, among other things, the relationship between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross was defined. According to the Statutes, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Catholic Church with juridical personality according to the norm of canon 313 of the CIC; it is joined to the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross according to the norm of canon 677, para. 2 of the CIC and placed under the direction of the Order in conformity with canon 303 of the CIC. The Constitutions of the Sisters of the Holy Cross were approved by the bishop of Innsbruck . Finally, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, whose central government had been named by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life on 30 October 1993, was able at the beginning of 2009 to elect its own superior general and the members of the general council.
Therefore, in its present state, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Church in conformity with traditional doctrine and with the directives of the Holy See. It spreads devotion to the Holy Angels among the faithful, exhorts them to pray for priests, and promotes love for Christ in His Passion and union with it. Therefore, there are no remaining obstacles of a doctrinal and disciplinary kind which would prevent local ordinaries from receiving this movement into their dioceses and promoting its development.
II. At the same time, however, the congregation wishes to draw the attention of ordinaries to the fact that, in the course of these years, a certain number of Opus Angelorum members, including some priests who either left or were expelled from the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, have not accepted the norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and seek to restore what, according to them, would be the "authentic Opus Angelorum", that is, a movement which professes and practices all those things which were forbidden by the above-mentioned documents. The congregation has learned that very discrete propaganda in favour of this wayward movement, which is outside of any ecclesiastical control, is taking place, aimed at presenting it as if it were in full communion with the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, therefore, asks ordinaries to be vigilant with regard to such activities, disruptive as they are of ecclesial communion, and to forbid them if they are present within their dioceses.
VIS 20101104 (910)
I am personally familiar with Opus Angelorum and with priests of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross (ORC), who live not far from Grotto, as well as with the sisters who reside in a convent on the grounds of Assumption Grotto.
Since I arrived at Grotto in 2005, these priests have served as my confessors, spiritual directors and advisors. I have been on their retreats, and attend their very popular Days of Recollection. As often as I can, I participate in the Passio Domini on Thursday nights following the 7:00pm Mass at Assumption Grotto (holy hour for sanctification of the priesthood).
I have benefited tremendously from the richness of their talks, homilies and counsels which draw richly from Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the popes, and Church documents. In fact, they contributed to my deepening interest in the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. With my frequent contact with many of the priests, my experiences have been devoid of those things they were not to use. In the spiritual direction I have received, I have always been treated with dignity and my free will respected fully.
When people asked, seemingly at every meeting or retreat whether it was ok to name their guardian angel, the priests quoted the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (see # 217).
Parallel/Splinter OA movement not loyal to Holy See acknowledged
I have been fully aware of what transpired in both decrees of 1982 and 1992, and had placed my trust in the Holy See, which decided to work with loyal members for reform. Those loyal members were docile and obedient to the delegate appointed to them by the Holy See. In the meanwhile some former members who could not accept the changes, continued on with a parallel group, causing a form of scandal for the loyal members.
What I am so glad to see in this note by the CDF is the acknowledgement that there is another group of former members, including expelled priests, who have not been cooperative, and are creating confusion. I have had online friends write me out of concern upon seeing my links to Opus Angelorum. I hope people will accept the what the Holy See says on this matter. Pope Benedict XVI certainly has knowledge about the case, having headed the CDF for so many years, and during the time period in question.
If any bishop, diocese, or pastor has inquiries, they can verify with Fr. Daniel Ols O.P, the current delegate, that this Opus Angelorum website, and related link to the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross is the association and community cooperating with the Holy See.
See the Opus Angelorum page in English for information about what is happening in the US. All other languages use opusangelorum.org.
EDITS: BEWARE OF MEDIA DISTORTIONS
- Catholic Culture gets it right.
- The BBC has grossly distorted the note from the CDF by focusing almost entirely on what it says about the 1982 and 1992 decrees and omitting certain facts. The title and wording within the report could easily mislead people into thinking that Opus Angelorum itself is wayward, when the above CDF note is meant to distinguish between Opus Angelorum and the splinter group. You wouldn't get this from the BBC report, which omitted the fact that those causing problems include EXPELLED PRIESTS who are working discretely to form a wayword group. I have filled out a form at the BBC, with link to the article and asked them to go back and read very carefully the note they just wrote about.
- The Sydney Herald in Australia has done the same thing, but it is almost worse! This was not a 50 page document, but something which probably spanned a page and a half printed. A read of the article misleads one to believe that Opus Angelorum is sectarian and not in communion with Rome.
ZENIT gets it right with this:
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The doctrinal congregation of the Church is warning local ordinaries about wayward members of Opus Angelorum, who are spreading false teachings about the angels.
In a note sent to bishops and archbishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted that while Opus Angelorum (work of the angels) is currently an association in good standing as a faithful entity of the Church, several ex-members are disobeying Church directives.
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