Would you agree with the statement which is occasionally made that special conditions in Spain during the last thirty years have contributed to the growth of Opus Dei there?

In very few places have we had fewer facilities than in Spain. I don't like to say so, because I naturally love my country deeply, but it is in Spain that we have had the greatest difficulties in making the Work take root. No sooner had it been born, than it met with the opposition of all the enemies of personal freedom and of people who were so attached to traditional ideas that they could not understand the life of the members of Opus Dei, ordinary Christians who strive to live their Christian vocation fully without leaving the world.

The situation in Spain with respect to our corporate apostolates has not been particularly favourable either. The governments of countries where Catholics are a minority have helped the educational and welfare activities founded by the members of Opus Dei far more generously than the Spanish government. The aid that those governments grant the corporate activities of Opus Dei, like that they usually give other similar centres, is not a privilege, but a just recognition of their social function and of the money they save the taxpayers.

In the course of its international expansion, the spirit of Opus Dei has been very well received in all countries. Our difficulties have in large part been the result of falsehoods originating in Spain. They were invented by members of certain well-defined sectors of Spanish society; in the first place, by the international organisation I mentioned before, but fortunately that seems to belong to the past and I do not hold a grudge against anyone. Another sector is composed of people characterised by partisanship, when not by narrow-mindedness or a totalitarian mentality, who do not understand pluralism and who use their reputation as Catholics for political purposes. I don't know how to explain why, but some of them seem to take special pleasure in attacking Opus Dei, perhaps for false human reasons. Since they can finance them amply with the Spanish taxpayers' money, their attacks are reproduced in certain sectors of the press.

I am perfectly aware that you would like me to name concrete persons and institutions, but I hope you will understand why I do not do so. Neither my mission nor Opus Dei's is political; my business is to pray. I don't want to say anything that could possibly be interpreted as an intervention in politics. In fact I would prefer not to have even mentioned the subject. I have held my peace for almost forty years, and if I say anything now it is only because I have an obligation to denounce as absolutely false the distorted picture that has been given of our exclusively spiritual work. And for that very reason, although I have kept silent until now, I intend to speak out in the future. even more clearly if necessary.

Getting back to the main subject of your question, if many people of all social classes, in Spain and throughout the world, have decided to follow Christ with the Work's help, living its spirit, the explanation is not to be found in the environment nor in other external factors. Proof of it lies in the fact that the very people who so lightly affirm the contrary have seen their own groups shrink and the external factors are the same for everyone. Perhaps a partial explanation, from the human point of view, is that they form closed groups, while we do not deprive anyone of his personal freedom.

If in Spain (as in several other countries) Opus Dei is quite well developed, it may well be because our spiritual work began there forty years ago, and, as I mentioned before, the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War made it necessary to postpone our extension to other countries. Nevertheless I want to add that for a number of years we Spaniards have been a minority in the Work.

I would not like you to think that I do not love my country or that I am not extremely pleased with the activity the Work carries on there. But it is a shame that falsehoods are occasionally disseminated about Opus Dei and Spain.

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