The Legion, Opus Dei & Fr. Maciel’s Inspiration: Historical Notes from Co-Founder

Historical note by Jose Barba ,PhD
Similarities and Dissimilarities between Fr. Maciel’s and Mons Escriva’s ‘Work of God’.
The organizations are not connected, i.e. they do not cooperate, they are more like rivals, fishing in the same tank for the same kind of fish

They are very SIMILAR in a kind of parallel way:

1-each organization is founded by a catholic priest;

2-their original language and culture is ‘Spanish’

3-each is ‘led’ by a group of priests that trains a group of ‘lay’ Catholics to be Catholic leaders in society.

4-The general goal is to imbue society at large with Catholic values.

This involves winning over the political world, the business world, the press, the media, the catholic hierarchy, educational institutions such as colleges and universities, etc.: or influencing them to a considerable degree, or at least influencing them to the degree that they will not interfere with what the organization is trying to do, which is to influence society [sufficiently confused?].

To be able to recruit, train, influence, build, etc. etc. the organization needs a lot of money. Members and their families may contribute, special very rich benefactors will contribute, and schools and universities serving the upper social classes will generate funds.

‘Elitist’: both organizations basically aim to win over the more influential sectors of society and thus target the middle and upper social classes. They believe that ‘the revolution starts from the top’ and filters down. Helping the poor is usually cosmetic, in a kind of a CYA sense. i.e. to prove that they are Christians, charitable, good. Neither organization spends a proportionately large amount of resources or wo/man power helping the less fortunate. Their ‘poor missions’ can also be another way to raise funds from well meaning Catholics.

5- Both are secretive, in that they keep to themselves and do not mix freely with non-members or share information with those who may be unfriendly or unhelpful…they tend to infiltrate other organizations and take over quietly. [see controversy about catholic school taken over by LC/RC

6- Both have separate groups of male and female members: Men’s Section, Women’ Section, Male Youth Section [Jovenes] , Female Youth Section [Señoritas]. They also have a section for teens, boys and girls separately [The Legion/Regnum Christi calls this movement ECYD in Spanish]


1- The OPUS DEI [latin for God’s Work] is from Spain, the Legionaries of Christ and the REGNUM CHRISTI [Christ’s Kingdom or Reign] is from Mexico.

2- The Opus is older by some 20 years. Their founder is dead. The founder of the LC is 82, the same age as the Pope and is still alive and running the organization.

3- The Opus priests are not so well known separately from the Opus Dei organization. People usually call them the ‘The Opus priests’ although officially they are ‘The Fathers of the Holy Cross’; whereas the Legionary priests are recognized as a distinct Religious Congregation [order] and their movement is called ‘Regnum Christi’ [the Kingdom of Christ].

4- Father Maciel’s first idea was to have missionary group of priests; the idea of having lay apostles came later. This is a bone of contention. We -the critics- say the ‘inspiration’ about training lay apostles came to Fr MM about the 60/70s. The official LC line is that it was there from the beginning. This is truly false. I do not know whether the OD founder, Escriva, had the idea of lay apostles from the beginning of his foundation.


Dear Jose, ‘with your permission’, as they say in the Legion [that is, I’m doing this without first clearing it with you!] I will edit it ever so […] slightly, even though I am almost as tired doing this as you were when you wrote it.

Dick and Friends,
These are notes that Jose Barba sent me re these two ‘movements’. My intention in writing something was to gather richer data from others…Jose, being older!, was closer to the Founder and the Foundation than I by a decade or so, when the Legion was still pretty small and everyone knew everyone else personally… and MM spent more time with them…and they were more privy to how things were developing, even though MM liked to create an air of mystery around himself and what he was doing, so it would have a greater impact. Maciel, ever the Maestro, the showman, the magician. Jose, and others from that time, were very acute and minute observers. Some of these young men would object to the way the MM was doing things and reported him to church authorities [circa 1955/6, forgive my lack of precision, Jose], others were afraid/unaware/helpless and kept silent…

Original Message —–
From: “Jose Barba�
To: “J.Paul Lennon�
Cc: ;
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2002 6:28 PM
Subject: Re: Your Fax.


Dear Paul,

I have printed out your last e-mail on LC/OPUS DEI. I believe I can help in filling in part of the blanks in number 4. I have paid special attention to this point, and I could record on a tape some relatively organized thoughts on this matter. I have a sabbatical this year, and one of my temptations would be to write a book that could cover the LC history from the idea-development standpoint.

Creative ideas really of his own, MM truthfully has had none. In this respect he rather has always reminded me of the black shadow dancer in some of Fred Astaire’s films, who would mimetize [mimic] whatever the great slim man was doing. In fact, if one observes carefully, almost everything in the MM/LC history has always depended on what I would call the “juxtaposition principleâ€�. To begin with, well before MM mimetized [mimicked] OPUS DEI/ Escriva, he had SIMPLY PLAGIARIZED THE WHOLE BLUEPRINT OF WHAT WOULD BE THE LC MAIN DESIGN from a Monsignor Gibier’s (archbishop of Versailles) book, entitled “La Salvación por los Selectosâ€�, “Salvation through the [S]Elect; Latin ‘electi’, i.e. through the “eliteâ€�, published in Mexico, with the “Imprimaturâ€� of Monsignor Luis Maria Martínez, I still remember: It was February 28th, 1948.

Some other day I will write to you on the true origin of the “Regnum Christi� movement. MM simply stole that idea and the name from an obscure bishop in a remote region of Europe and from a German Jesuit priest killed by the Nazis in the thirties. I can prove it with references published in 1950. I have both sources physically in my safe.

MM’s real [concrete] knowledge about the Opus Dei and Escrivá de Balaguer came later. Fr. Jesús Trujillo, from the diocese of Colima, Mexico, made one of those little books, “Camino�, ‘The Way’ , by Escrivá, circulate among our group [of LC students] in Cobreces, northern Spain during the Summer of 1952. It is also very probable that MM had heard about the Opus Dei in Madrid before from Don Diego Bugallo (MM had not yet met Don Angel Morta -another prominent Spanish priest- ). He could also have heard about the Opus from [government] minister Martin Artajo, or some other later acquaintance in the Spanish capital that had been [touched/courted] by the Opus.

Until soon. Thanks for all your mails. All the best to our companions.
[Jose B.]

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