Exchange of Letters with Cardinal José María Bueno Monreal

The sixth volume of Studia et Documenta, published by the Saint Josemaría Historical Institute in Rome, contains, among many other items, letters documenting the friendship between St. Josemaría and Cardinal José María Bueno Monreal. Their long and friendly relationship (1939-1975) is shown in the exchange of letters presented here, accompanied by critical annotations and preceded by a extensive introduction by Professor Santiago Martinez Sanchez, specialist in contemporary history.

In a separate article, historian Fr. Fernando Crovetto offers another previously unpublished document: the report by Juan Jimenez Vargas on the beginning of the work of St. Raphael (1933-1935), that is, the activities of Christian formation for young people that St. Josemaría carried out from as early as the years before the war in Spain.

The first part of this issue is dedicated monographically to the relationship between the founder of Opus Dei and four intellectuals: José María Albareda, Rafael Calvo Serer, Bishop José López Ortiz, and Msgr. Willy Onclin. The first of these, a faithful of Opus Dei, was a protagonist in Spanish scientific life for almost thirty years, both for his research work in the field of soil science, and for his work as Secretary of the National Spanish Research Council from its creation in 1939 until 1966. In 1960 he was ordained as a priest. Pablo Pérez López, professor of contemporary history, recalls the first years of his contact with St. Josemaría, from 1935 to 1939, and the especially difficult moments when they lived in the same place, fleeing from religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War.

In that same issue, Onésimo Diaz, specialist in twentieth century cultural and political history, relates the first contacts of St. Josemaría with Rafael Calvo Serer, professor of history and a well-known journalist, whose political activism led to a confrontation with the Franco regime that resulted in the closing of the newspaper Madrid, of which he was editor. Calvo Serer was also a member of Opus Dei, and (like Albareda) was inspired by St. Josemaría’s teachings to carry out, with complete freedom and a deep Christian spirit, an incisive cultural and political activity.

Fr. José Carlos Martin de la Hoz, theologian and historian, discusses the figure of Bishop Lopez Ortiz, an historian of law as well as a bishop. His ties with Josemaría Escrivá lasted more than fifty years, and were marked by a deep friendship.

The fourth intellectual was the Belgian canonist, Willy Onclin. Father Jean-Pierre Schouppe, a professor of canon law, sketches his friendship with the founder of Opus Dei since their meeting during the years of the Second Vatican Council. Onclin, a professor at the Louvaine, was one of the principal authors of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The section Estudios y Notas opens with an article by historian Luis Cano that summarizes the efforts of the founder of Opus Dei in Rome in the summer of 1946, during his first trip to the Eternal City. That first Roman stay was also his first contact with two of the principal protagonists in the history of the Church in the twentieth century: Pope Pius XII and one of his closest collaborators, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

The next article, written by the historian Mercedes Montero, describes the situation of women in Spanish universities between 1910 and 1936, in the context of point 946 of The Way. Montero has discovered the author of a phrase St. Josemaría employs in this point and documents the hopeful and realistic view that already in those years the founder of Opus Dei had about the important mission of women in university life.

The historian Jaume Aurell, in a long study, confronts a prevailing “myth” about Opus Dei’s role in Franco Spain, and contrasts the reality of the Work with its public image in certain quarters. Called a “dangerous novelty” or “heresy” by one sector of postwar Catholicism, it came to be viewed as a conservative and even reactionary organization. Aurell looks at the elements that made up this negative “black legend” about Opus Dei, and the mechanisms that govern the formation of these simplified views of persons and institutions.

This volume also offers up-to-date news about Opus Dei and its founder and a bibliographic section, with a general bibliography about Bishop Alvaro del Portillo.

Romana, n. 54, January-June 2012, p. 119-121.

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