Argentinian Women Claim Labor Exploitation By Opus Dei
Lucía Giménez still suffers pain in her knees from the years she spent scrubbing floors in the men’s bathroom at the Opus Dei residence in Argentina’s capital for hours without pay, Deborah Rey reported for the Associated Press (AP) over the weekend.
Photo Insert: Opus Dei Central Offices at Viale Bruno Buozzi, Parioli District, Rome
Giménez, now 56, joined the conservative Catholic group in her native Paraguay at the age of 14 with the promise she would get an education. But instead of math or history, she was trained in cooking, cleaning, and other household chores to serve in Opus Dei residences and retirement homes.
For 18 years she washed clothes, scrubbed bathrooms, and attended to the group’s needs for 12 hours a day, with breaks only for meals and praying. Despite her hard labor, she says: “I never saw money in my hands.”
Giménez and 41 other women have filed a complaint against Opus Dei to the Vatican for alleged labor exploitation, as well as abuse of power and of conscience.
The Argentine and Paraguayan citizens worked for the movement in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Italy, and Kazakhstan between 1974 and 2015. The complaint alleges the women, often minors at the time, labored under “manifestly illegal conditions” that included working without pay for 12 hours-plus without breaks except for food or prayer, no registration in the Social Security system, and other violations of basic rights.
The women are demanding financial reparations from Opus Dei and that it acknowledge the abuses and apologize to them, as well as the punishment of those responsible.
Opus Dei — Work of God in Latin — was founded by the Spanish priest Josemaría Escrivá in 1928, and has 90,000 members in 70 countries. The lay group, which was greatly favored by St. John Paul II, who canonized Escrivá in 2002, has a unique status in the church and reports directly to the pope.
Most members are laymen and women with secular jobs and families who strive to “sanctify ordinary life.” Other members are priests or celibate laypeople.