|Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
on the Positive Status of the Opus Angelorum
This past October 2nd, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith addressed a letter to all the Bishops’ Conferences of the world communicating the positive canonical status of the Opus Angelorum. This letter was made public on November 4, 2010 in L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio online, and the online Vatican Information Service.
“[I]n its present state, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Church in conformity with traditional doctrine and with the directives of the Holy See. It spreads devotion to the Holy Angels among the faithful, exhorts them to pray for priests, and promotes love for Christ in His Passion and union with it. Therefore, there are no remaining obstacles of a doctrinal and disciplinary kind which would prevent local ordinaries from receiving this movement into their dioceses and promoting its development.”
The letter first mentions the examination of the Opus Angelorum leading up to the decrees of 1983 and 1992, which in summary principally restricted:
– the use of names of angels not found in Scripture;
– certain angel theories about the angelic hierarchies found in the writings of Mother Gabriele Bitterlich which cannot be verified in the deposit of faith;
– and the consecration to the holy angels.
“The Decree of 1992 entrusted the implementation of these measures to a Delegate named by the Holy See and possessing special faculties; he was also given the task of regularizing the relationship between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross. In the years that followed, the Delegate, Father Benoît Duroux, O.P., successfully completed the work entrusted to him. Today, thanks to the obedience of its members, the Opus Angelorum can be considered to be living loyally and serenely in conformity with the doctrine of the Church and with canonical and liturgical law.” (emphasis added)
The Holy See then lists the more recent developments since the decree of 1992, which include:
– the approval of the Consecration to the Holy Angels in the Holy Year 2000;
– the approval of the Statutes of Opus Angelorum by the Congregation for Religious in 2008, which places the Work of the Holy Angels under the direction of the Order of Canons regular of the Holy Cross;
– according to the Statutes, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Catholic Church with juridical personality according to the norm of canon 313 of the CIC;
– the approval of the Constitutions of the Sisters of the Holy Cross by the Bishop of Innsbruck.
In this letter, the Congregation at the same time warns Bishops of some former members, including priests who either left or were expelled from the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross and who
“have not accepted the norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and seek to restore what, according to them, would be the ‘authentic Opus Angelorum’, that is, a movement which professes and practices all those things which were forbidden by the above-mentioned documents.”
While the above group does not appear to be large or even active in more than a few places, the Church is still conscientiously exercising its pastoral duty to look after the flock of our Lord. Recall, that this letter is addressed to the Bishops in precisely their duty as shepherds. Regarding this group the Church “asks ordinaries to be vigilant with regard to such activities, disruptive as they are of ecclesial communion, and to forbid them if they are present within their dioceses.” Please keep these priests in your prayers, that they may return into full communion with the Church.
Unfortunately, on many secular websites (including BBC) and even on some religious websites, the letter from Cardinal Levada has been mis-represented and distorted in such a way so as to appear that the whole of the Opus Angelorum has been condemned by the Holy See. We invite you, therefore, to read the letter in its entirety, for your own clarification and in order to provide an answer for those who question you on the status of the Opus Angelorum. The full contents of the letter can be found on our website, the Vatican Information Service website, or the EWTN website.
Though the confusion caused by the media is unfortunate, nevertheless, we are very grateful for this clear statement of the Vatican, which publically answers many questions circulating on the internet regarding the status of the OA.