We're talking about Opus Dei, the Catholic Information Network, Leonard Leo, Ginni and Clarence Thomas, and incidentally in the context of this story, the Order of the Knights of Malta. If you like our content please become a patron to get our exclusive premium episodes, as well as our public episodes ad-free.
Ginni Thomas has led a life in adherence to various cults. She started with Lifespring, a self-help cult which was sued into bankruptcy in the late 1980s and early 1990s after a string of accidental deaths related to their activities. From there she worked with a series of "deprogramming" organizations which strayed into kidnapping-for-hire in their efforts to forcibly remove the relatives of wealthy families from other cults. Today, Ginni's cult is the assortment of far-right American political interests which use her husband's name and influence to try and coalesce into a singular political vision. One of those interests is a secretive organization of wealthy Catholic donors named Opus Dei, which was also featured in Dan Brown's novel The DaVinci Code. 1
Opus Dei was formed during the Spanish Civil War by a priest named Josemaría Escrivá. From its outset, it has been an advocate of far-right governments, from Franco's Spain to various military dictatorships in South America. They were rumored to be involved in the Argentine military dictatorship during the Falklands War, which indirectly caused the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, after which that bank's chairman Roberto Calvi was found hanging from the Blackfriar Bridge in London with bricks in his pockets and $14,000 in cash in his jacket. The bricks signified his rumored membership in another secret organization: the Masonic lodge Propaganda Due.
In America, Opus Dei is behind money which flows into far-right political causes, particularly those related to the appointment of federal judges. The organization's American functions are run by a man named Leonard Leo, who was Trump's primary judicial consultant. Leo was also a consultant to the George W. Bush administration on the selection of justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. 2
The Order of the Knights of Malta are unfortunate victims in this story. The current pope stuck them with the most prominent far-right priest in America, Cardinal Raymond Burke, when he demoted that priest from the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's equivalent of a supreme court back in 2014. The pope fired Burke again and reinstated Albrecht von Boeselager, the former chancellor of the Order who Burke and its Grand Master had purged for distributing condoms and morning-after birth control pills in the Myanmar region.
More recently, the pope has ordered all vatican organizations to deposit their funds into the Vatican Bank within the next 30 days, and demoted the chief clergy officer in Opus Dei from a bishop to a priest. The pope has also widely banned the Latin mass, another favorite cultural argument of Cardinal Burke. Perhaps the pope is curtailing Opus Dei specifically? 3
Episode #Dubimeter: 15
2. A Conservative activist's behind-the-scenes campaign to remake the nation's courts. The Washington Post. May 2019. ⇤
3. Christian Right Seeks Renewal in Deepening Catholic-Protestant Alliance. Political Research Associates. July 2013. ⇤
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