The Catholic Organisation Opus Dei is behind a plan to open two new secondary Schools in Britain, according the National Secular Society.
Describing Opus Dei as ‘secretive, sinister and extremely wealthy’ the National Secular Society claim that the organisation has put up the funding behind a charity called ‘The PACT Educational Trust (PACT).’
PACT which stands for Parents, Children, Teachers announced plans to open two new secondary schools in November last year.
If plans go ahead, the schools will be opened by September 2013.
PACT already operates two primary schools, Oakwood School and Oliver House, in south London, each of which has around 170 pupils.
They claim that their own research has shown strong interest from parents in sending children to a secondary school with a firm Catholic ethos.
In a press release PACT say their schools are inspired by the teachings of the founder of Opus Dei, St Josemaría Escrivá, the Spanish Priest who founded the organisation as a movement of lay people and priests after receiving a vision in 1928.
He was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002, but both he and the society he founded have been the source of continuing controversy centring upon accusations of elitism, secrecy and support of far right politics.
His principal message however was that everyone should live a life of holiness, and it was this idea that led him to found Opus Dei.
PACT’s website doesn’t specifically align the organisation with the teachings of Opus Dei, but it does commit to an emphasis on ‘the formation of character and virtue, allowing children to acquire personal convictions in a climate that balances discipline and freedom.’
Two, independent, fee paying single-sex schools are planned by PACT, who say they looked in to the possibility of establishing the new schools as ‘free schools’ but were put off by the restrictions which ‘bars faith schools from being made up of more than 50% of students of that faith.’
Opus Dei was at the centre of renewed controversy when it was featured in the Dan Brown novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the subsequent film starring Tom Hanks.
January 5th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross