Translated by Peter Damian-Grint
A group of women of the Work at the last General Elective Congress, in 2017. © Ismael Martínez Sánchez
The prelate of Opus Dei, Fernando Ocáriz, has sent a letter (available on the Opus Dei website) to the members of the prelature in which he explains that, following the publication of the motu proprio Ad charisma tuendumThe men and women of the General Council and the Central Advisory-the central governing bodies of Opus Dei-have been studying for some weeks "how to carry out what the Pope has asked of us regarding bringing the Statutes of the Work into line with the motu proprio."
This Extraordinary General Congress, which will be convoked for "that precise and limited purpose", will take place in the first semester of 2023. Following the advice of the Holy See, it will not be limited to changing "the dependence of the Prelature on this Dicastery and the change from every five years to annual reporting to the Holy See on the Prelature's activities." In fact, as Mgr Ocáriz emphasizes in his letter, the Vatican has advised the Work to consider "other possible adjustments to the Statutes that seem appropriate in light of the motu proprio," and that the study be done in a calm manner: "We have also been advised to spend as much time as necessary without any hurry."
On this occasion, the Prelate asked the members of the Prelature for "specific suggestions" aimed at adapting the work and development of the Work to the needs of the Church today. In this regard, Fernando Ocáriz wanted to emphasize that "it is a question of complying with what the Holy See has indicated, not of proposing any change that might seem interesting to us".
In addition, the prelate of Opus Dei points out that "Along with the desire to be faithful to our founder's legacy, it is important to keep in mind the good for everyone that the legal stability of an institution entails", and opens the door to "other suggestions... to give new impetus to the apostolic work" that can be dealt with in the future.
General Congresses in Opus Dei
General Congresses are, together with the prelate who convokes them and who attends them, the main governing body within Opus Dei at the central level. According to § 133 of the current Statutes, "Ordinary General Congresses, convoked by the Prelate, must be held every eight years so as to report on the state of the Prelature and to advise on the opportune norms for future action of governance".
Extraordinary General Congresses-such as the one to be held in 2023-are convened "when circumstances so require in the Prelate's judgment".
The motu proprio Ad charisma tuendum
The motu proprio Ad charisma tuendumpublished last July, specified some aspects of the juridical regime of the personal prelature of Opus Dei in order to adjust it to what is established by the Apostolic Constitution Prædicate Evangelium. This document determines that from now on, personal prelatures (to date, there is only that of Opus Dei) will depend on the Dicastery for the Clergy and not on that for the Bishops, as was previously the case.
In addition, the motu proprio pointed out other changes related to Opus Dei. Specifically: in the first place, the frequency with which Opus Dei must present its report on the situation of the prelature and the development of its apostolic work becomes annual instead of five-yearly; and secondly, it was decided that "the prelate will not receive episcopal ordination". This was not previously essential and indeed was not included in the Statutes of Opus Dei; but Mgr Ocáriz's predecessors, Bl. Álvaro del Portillo and Mgr Javier Echevarría, both received episcopal ordination.