Press release from independent Irish former assistant numeraries of Opus Dei

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Contact for press enquiries:, 24 April 2024

We are a number of anonymous, Irish ex-members of Opus Dei. We are all ex-assistant numeraries. We are acting independently and do not claim to represent a wider group.

Background - relevant media coverage

This is our statement in response to the press releases of Opus Dei regarding the following recent interviews with Irish ex-assistant numeraries:

  1. Margaret Joyce by Katie Hannon on “Upfront”, released on RTE on 22 April 2024 from 31:00
  2. Anne Marie Allen and Teena Fogerty, as recorded in this article by Antonia Cundy for the “Financial Times”
  3. Teena Fogerty (from 30:55)
  4. Anne Marie Allen by Katie Hannon on “Upfront” (podcast) on RTE on 29 March 2024
  5. An interview with an English former numerary, Eileen Johnson, in the “Irish Independent” of 13 April 2024 corroborates the Irish women’s testimonies. ‘I came out suicidal’: the women speaking out after leaving Opus Dei | Irish Independent

Press releases from Opus Dei in response

In response, Opus Dei has published two press releases and a “Q&A”:

Some clarifications on an article published in the "Financial Times Magazine" - Opus Dei

Below, we set out our response to the issues in Opus Dei’s publications.


Opus Dei’s responses are not an apology. We are not aware of any case where Opus Dei has issued an apology to a specific ex-member for a specific wrong. We believe that Opus Dei would find that too difficult to do but are willing to be proved wrong on this.

We note that Opus Dei “categorically deny the allegation of exploitation”. Anne Marie, Teena, and Margaret have provided substantial, consistent evidence on national media outlets of this exploitation.

While we do not expect Opus Dei to be able to respond quickly and specifically, its prompt denial of “exploitation” without reasons is for us a sign that it may not be interested in investigating seriously any such allegations.

Reference to contact with Margaret Joyce’s family

Opus Dei stated publicly that it is in contact with Margaret Joyce’s family. In our view, saying this in a press release was not necessary, relevant, or conducive to the building of the trust needed for dialogue. We cannot imagine how this would be acceptable under any professional safeguarding procedure.

We call on Opus Dei not to use family connections as ways to approach Margaret or any other ex-member to discuss their complaints about their treatment while in Opus Dei.

We call on Opus Dei to avoid making any mentions of contact with family in any future press release of this nature.

Invitations to Margaret, Teena and Anne Marie to make contact with Opus Dei using its complaints protocol

Opus Dei has referred to its complaints “protocol” - here

The protocol is not a protocol. It contains an email address run by Opus Dei for complaints to be sent to privately, and a statement to the effect that Opus Dei will investigate complaints internally, as it sees fit. That is it.

There is no named person, no detail of how complaints will be handled, no appeal mechanism, no information on who within Opus Dei will see the complaint, and no reference to collaboration with any part of the wider Roman Catholic church, to which Opus Dei belongs and is accountable.

Many Irish Catholic institutions have implemented comprehensive safeguarding policies in recent decades. Opus Dei’s “protocol” suggests to us it may have no knowledge of this and even that it may have isolated itself completely from this process in the wider church. Opus Dei needs to respond on this.

Opus Dei’s “need” for ex-members to use its “protocol”

Opus Dei says that it “recognises that bad experiences may have happened but needs the people concerned to make a formal complaint”.

Teena, Margaret and Anne Marie complained in detail in public. There is no further “need” for Opus Dei to wait until they are willing to engage privately with Opus Dei on the same issues. This is an excuse for inaction and an unfair imposition on Teena, Anne Marie and Margaret.

All procedures for dealing with safeguarding complaints should respond to information learnt from any source, not just private correspondence from the alleged victim.

It is not credible for Opus Dei to create a complaints procedure covering safeguarding issues that responds only to formal complaints from the victim – this is not a consumer complaint helpline. No other pastoral or church institution could get away with such an approach.

Dealing with “exploitation”

Opus Dei has gone on to invite the women to make a private complaint under its protocol, despite making it clear that they cannot be upheld if they relate to “exploitation”. Opus Dei has “categorically [denied] the allegation of exploitation” and so there seems to be little point in any of the women or anyone else making such a complaint through its protocol.

We cannot take seriously an internal complaints procedure for a body that has already ruled out the existence of a whole category of problems, irrespective of the allegations in any given case, and irrespective of the specific allegations aired in the media by Margaret, Anne Marie and Teena.

Internal handling of complaints by Opus Dei is inadequate

We are not experts in safeguarding procedures but it seems obvious to us that a complaint of exploitation or abuse by an institution cannot and should not be handled internally and exclusively by that same institution. Opus Dei’s “categorical denial” of any “exploitation” before any complaint has been received via its protocol proves this to us.

We would like to remind Opus Dei that the Roman Catholic church has a long and painful history of internally ignoring and hushing up allegations of abuse. The church has progressed to some extent and its organisations have adopted safeguarding and complaints procedures that involve external accountability.

We cannot believe that any other Catholic institution would respond to Margaret’s serious allegations of exploitation in the way that Opus Dei has.

We believe that Opus Dei is not equipped to handle complaints and we see no evidence that it works with accountability with anyone in the Catholic church outside Opus Dei to deal with them.

In our view, Opus Dei is several decades behind the rest of the church and civil society in its approach to safeguarding complaints.

We call on the Catholic church to act

We call upon the Irish Catholic church to intervene and attempt to handle the complaints made by Margaret, Teena and Anne Marie, with or without the cooperation of Opus Dei, formally or informally as far as it is able, as pastors and Christians.

We call on the Vatican to take over Opus Dei’s complaints procedure wholesale, and to force Opus Dei to face up to its historical and current responsibilities meaningfully, in a similar way to dioceses and other Catholic institutions.

Non-payment for the work of assistant numeraries

Opus Dei claims that the work of assistant numeraries “is paid in accordance with the employment legislation of the countries in which they live” and that “In Opus Dei there has never been ill-informed or forced recruitment, or people reduced to servitude.”

Countless testimonies from former assistant numeraries around the world over the years contradict this in their specific cases.

Further, in 2016, an Appeal Court in France convicted a hospitality training college in Paris run by Opus Dei members of the criminal offences of non- and under-payment of the salaries and benefits of almost 100 assistant numeraries and other college students, including minors, over several years to 2004. A pdf version of the court decision setting out the details has been made a matter of public record here.

This is an unofficial text version of the pdf French appeal court judgement: conviction of Opus Dei entity July 2016 - Google Docs

Opus Dei has not, to our knowledge, provided any meaningful public detail as to the steps it has taken to ensure that such labor offences will not be repeated, whether in France or elsewhere. Given its irregular approach to dealing with safeguarding complaints in 2024, we are doubtful that it has adopted a rigorous, professional approach to all employment issues worldwide since the French case.

As for the allegations by Teena, Anne Marie and Margaret of non-payment for their work, we believe that it should be well within the knowledge and capability of Opus Dei to respond quickly to them. We see no need for them to first cooperate privately with Opus Dei through its complaints protocol or otherwise. The information needed to respond to these complaints is solely within Opus Dei-run institutions’ control. Taking prompt action in this regard would be a gesture that we would welcome.

Admission to Opus Dei

Whatever the formal, legal requirements for admission to Opus Dei, the reality is that the vast majority of Opus Dei members were not psychologically free when they joined because of the emotional pressure and spiritual abuse by members of Opus Dei. This has been documented widely for decades, including by experts and witnesses in the French legal case referred to above.

We believe that Opus Dei is incapable of engaging meaningfully on this issue without the help of the wider Catholic church. This is because many of its senior members are both victims of psychological pressure and perpetrators. We do not expect to see eye-to-eye Opus Dei on this issue.

We call upon the Catholic church to take action on this and handle complaints against Opus Dei of coercion and psychological pressure.