Stephen Bates, religious-affairs correspondent of The Guardian
‘I receive a huge number of books on religion each week; so I tend to read
books that are journalistically useful. Opus Dei is by John Allen, an American
journalist and a pundit on Vatican affairs. This is the authorised version of
Opus Dei. Was it commissioned as a response to The Da Vinci Code? It may be
accidental that the cover is designed by the same man.
It’s a very thorough work; and, as a Roman Catholic, I found it
inter-esting. It establishes that the organ-isation is much smaller and much
less sinister than its reputation, and is less powerful in the Vatican than the
conspiracy theories would have us believe. The author clearly had assistance
from Opus Dei. He is gently critical of it, but tends to look on its good side,
particularly its promotion of spirituality in the everyday life of its members.
As an American, he sometimes doesn’t quite get British nuances (he refers to
The Manchester Guardian, which it hasn’t been since 1959). But I do believe in
his stance. It is responsible journalism.
Gays and the Future of Anglicanism is a very jolly polemical study from the
revisionists. Though books are published on both sides of the argument, the
entrenched positions are impervious to dialogue: there isn’t a possibility of
compromise. I sense that those involved are shouting into a wind tunnel, and
that the books are read by those who already agree with them. It doesn’t say
much for Anglicanism, really.’
John Allen, Opus Dei, Allen Lane £20 (£18), 0-713-99901-2; Andrew
Linzey and Richard Kirker, eds, Gays and the Future of Anglicanism, O
Books £17.99 (£16.20), 1-9050-4738-X.
To place an order for these books, contact