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Issue Date:  May 12, 2006

Finn one of four Opus Dei bishops in USA

Bishop Robert Finn’s membership in Opus Dei became a matter of public record with the publication last year of Opus Dei, the book by NCR Rome correspondent John L. Allen Jr., which identified Finn as a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, one of four U.S. bishops with Opus Dei ties.

The Kansas City Star drew attention to Finn’s membership with a report Oct. 19, 2005. In response to queries, Finn sent a statement to the Star that said he had become acquainted with Opus Dei through days of recollection for priests in the mid-1990s.

In an interview with his diocesan newspaper Nov. 18, 2005, Finn said he had decided to apply to be a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross in January 2004. Less than two months later, he was named coadjutor of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

Finn told The Catholic Key, he asked his Opus Dei spiritual director if he should continue to pursue membership. “He asked me, ‘Do you want to continue?’ I said that I needed spiritual direction now more than ever, so in April [2004], I decided I would apply,” Finn said.

The Key reported that Finn travels twice a month on Tuesdays to Columbia, Mo., about 125 miles east of Kansas City to meet with his spiritual director.

Opus Dei is not something Finn particularly cares to discuss. His statement to the Star said, “Most people don’t speak publicly of all the details of their spiritual life.” He had not spoken of his association with the group in any media interviews until the Star’s story in October.

Yet his membership wasn’t exactly secret. The Key’s Nov. 18 report, for example, noted that at Finn’s ordination as bishop, Opus Dei priest, Fr. Jay Alvarez, served as an attendant.

Alvarez had given three or four retreats in the area and Finn had introduced him as his spiritual director.

“I have been impressed about the insight of [Opus Dei founder] St. Josemaría Escrivá,” Finn told NCR. “Particularly, I think he was he was way ahead of his time in terms of the vocation to holiness of the laity and how he saw the laity had to transform the world in the marketplace, in the workplace. So there is some flavor of that in some of the things I’ve said and believe in.”

Finn told the Key that Opus Dei influences him the way one might be influenced by the traditions and spiritual exercises of the Jesuits, Franciscans, Benedictines or Carmelites.

He said that the Opus Dei path had helped open his heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. “It’s the Holy Spirit convicting our hearts,” he said. “He pins us. If we open our hearts a crack, he is going to rush in.”

The other Opus Dei bishops in the United States are: Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J.

Dennis Coday

National Catholic Reporter, May 12, 2006

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