Thursday, May 4, 2006
7 News Features: Decoding Opus Dei
It is almost here. The long-awaited movie, The Da Vinci Vode. A story about the Catholic Church -- a devious group and a serial killer. Fiction, right? Well yes, but there are some people who believe some of the facts about the Catholic group Opus Dei are real. Is that possible? To find out we asked Patrick Fraser to do some research...and we called it, Decoding Opus Dei.
WSVN--Da Vinci Code...
According to The Da Vinci Code, there is a secret message that will lead Tom Hanks on a hidden trail, where he will be threatened by a dark secretive society, called Opus Dei.
Sensational or simply silly? Watch now and decide.
This is no secret. If you want to see the picture perfect family, here they are.
Kristina Cyr: "We are regular Catholics. We belong to the local parish. We go to mass there on Sunday's."
Not just regular Catholics -- South Florida Catholics who are members of Opus Dei.
Joe Cyr: "I think Opus Dei has deeply enriched our lives. It's helped us to be better spouses to each other and it's helped us to be better parents."
Around the world there are 85,000 Opus Dei members -- Catholics who try to live every moment of every day in the way God would want them.
John Coverdale: "It's a committment to living Catholicism. Chrisitianity in an intense way. In a particularly specific way. But it really isn't basically different from anyone else who takes their religion very seriously."
But thanks to The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei is seen as different.
Founded in 1928 by Father Josemaria Escivara, who says God told him to create the group.
The Catholic Church was so impressed by Esciriva's acts that Pope John Paul II made Escivara a Saint.
The best way to describe an Opus Dei member would be devout...very devout.
Kristina Cyr: "We attend mass every morning. I read from a spiritual book. I say the rosary. And in the evening I do a short period of prayer."
Patrick Fraser: "Sort of like Catholics on Jolt Cola. But The Da Vinci Code has jolted the group, by the way it's portrayed them. According to the movie, they are a mysterious group hidden within the Catholic Church trying to unlock a secret in order to take over the church by using an Opus Dei serial killer to brutally murder anyone who gets in their way. Actual members hear all that and simply chuckle."
Kristina Cyr: "It's so wrong on so many different ways."
Joe Cyr: "It's completely fiction and I think Mr. Brown has more or less said so."
But the perception persists that Opus Dei must be hiding something.
Members say they aren't secretive, just simple.
Father Jose Ruisanchez: "In order to be a Christian you don't want to make external displays. It should be noticed by the way you live not by the signs you put in your front yard."
But one part of the movie is based on reality...mortification.
In the movie, the killer monk bloodies himself as part of a ritual to cleanse his body of sin.
Former members who left Opus Dei say they were strongly encouraged to wear a device called a cillus.
Tammy Dinicola: "These prongs dig into the flesh and they cause little pin pricks that can bleed, although they usually don't drip."
When Tammy was in college she says she was convinced to join Opus Dei and live in this mansion with other young women.
After she left, her mother created a network to warn people that the group controls it's members minds.
Diane Dinicola: "She couldn't leave the residence without permission, couldn't read anything, couldn't watch TV."
Tammy says as a result of the brainwashing she followed every directive her advisors gave her --like using this discipline.
Tammy Dinicola: "Typically, they use it once a week, they whip themselves on the buttocks while they say a Hail Mary."
But in reality, it's estimated that only ten percent of Opus Dei members use that form of mortification. The cyrs are like the other 90 percent that have their own personal ways to stay close to god.
Joe Cyr: "Our mortification is getting up at three in the morning with a baby that's crying...really."
Simply put, Opus Dei members say they are just devout Catholics.
Of course as the movie rolls out, many people will choose to believe the fictional portrayal of their group.
But Christina says Opus Dei isn't like that.
Kristina Cyr: "It's just a way for people to become closer to God in their everyday life."
Become closer to God by doing what they do every day...pray.