The director of Sydney's Archdiocesan Adult Education Centre has told the ABC that while the film The Da Vinci Code is riddled with historical errors, he is pleased that it has created unprecedented interest in Opus Dei.
Fr John Flader said that despite some "glaring misrepresentations of Opus Dei", the organisation is not "freaked out" by Dan Brown's book which he says will help guide people to the Opus Dei website where "they're going to get positive information."
"They're wondering, what is this extraordinary institution that has monks, which of course we don't have, and is out to murder people, which of course we don't do, and nonetheless it leads people beyond that; people seeking truth to come to Opus Dei, and hopefully they'll find the truth, and it'll serve Opus Dei's purpose," he said.
Fr Flader denied that Opus Dei fosters "secrecy and weirdness" but defended the practice by some of its members of bodily mortification such as self-flagellation and the use of the cilice.
"Opus Dei is ordinary lay faithful and a few priests like myself, seeking holiness in the middle of the world, wherever we have centres and wherever there are members they're very well known, it's just very ordinary people," he said.
But he told the ABC: "Within Opus Dei there are a very small part of the penitential practice, that is most of the members don't use them, the married ones certainly do not, the single ones generally do."
"A small part of what we do, involves the cilice and the disciplines, but it's exaggerated of course in Dan Brown's book," he said.
Asked whether Fr Flander would recommend the movie version of the book, which comes out in May, he said that it will be a good thriller but viewers should ignore the historical references in the movie.
"If one looks at it as a work of history, then it certainly is not that, it is just so riddled with errors of history and art etc, that one has to ignore that whole part," he said.
"But if one takes it merely as a thriller, it's going to be good."
Opus Dei welcomes Da Vinci interest (ABC Arts 27/4/06)
John Flader on Opus Dei (ABC Radio Religion Report 27/4/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Da Vinci Code – an invitation to learn the truth (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Deciphering Da Vinci (Catholic Australia)
Jesus Decoded (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
The Da Vinci Code (Sony Pictures)
Catholic Adult Education Centre
Bishops respond to false claims in Da Vinci Code (Catholic Weekly 30/4/06)
Da Vinci youth forum (Catholic Weekly 30/4/06)
Code ad removed from Roman church front (Catholic World News 27/4/06)
Most Catholics not fazed by 'Code' talk (USA Today 25/4/06)
Church officials angry with Da Vinci Code ad display (Catholic World News 25/4/06)
Christians take aim at Da Vinci film (The Age 24/4/06)
Historian plans to teach Da Vinci Code in course (Scoop 21/4/06)
The code that's set to break records (London Telegraph 21/4/06)
Opus Dei to counter 'Da Vinci' portrayal (Monsters and Critics 26/4/06)
Opus Dei, Vilified in `Da Vinci Code,' Runs Global MBA Schools (Bloomberg 26/4/06)
Open Letter to Sony (Opus Dei 6/4/06)
Film Showing the Real Opus Dei Released (Opus Dei 17/4/06)
Opus Dei urges Sony to include disclaimer in Da Vinci film (Catholic News Agency 18/4/06)
Group demands Da Vinci disclaimer (BBC 16/4/06)