Did Rome stop Opus Angelorum?
A German housewife, Marianne Poppenwimmer, addressed a complaint to the prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in
“We are a parents’ association
consisting of 21 families, all of whom have children or other family members
who have been hurt by the Opus Angelorum. The damage is in some cases so great
that those concerned are in psychiatric clinics, and at the early age of 29 or
30 now need nursing care and are unfit for work. Medical reports confirm that
these young people were in good mental health before they came into contact
with the OA. I also know of three Catholic marriages which have broken up
because of the Opus Angelorum. We parents find it very wrong that for over 40
years now this organization has been able to exist under cover of the Catholic
Church and has not been forbidden by the
“The number of families in the
Parents’ Association for Opus Angelorum Victims has risen to 30. And although
“The OA and its teachings are based on a so-called private revelation. From visions she had had, Gabriele Bitterlich (1896-1978), a Tyrolean housewife who originally came from Vienna, and is greatly venerated by the organization as The Mother, described the names, characteristics and appearance of hundreds of angels and demons and the never-ending battle between them. Apparently 80,000 manuscript pages can be attributed to her, and from these various publications have been composed and made available to members.
“According to OA theory, in order to achieve salvation, human beings must actively join the angels in their battle against the demons – which means, in concrete terms, joining the Opus Angelorum. That these inspirations were of a supernatural nature is not very plausible, as there are indications that spiritism and esoteric literature, above all occult Jewish cabbala teachings, played a certain role in the Bitterlich family. Some of Mother Gabriele’s angels bear the names of cabalistic Sefirot, like the titles of the chapters in Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, but also names like Yahweh, which, according to Jewish tradition, are reserved solely for God.
“Apparently by 1949 Gabriele Bitterlich had already received a calling to the Work of the Holy Angels. With its strange rituals, dedications and consecrations to guardian and other angels, and to atonement, the Opus Angelorum spread like a spider’s web in the Catholic Church, taking hold of priests, religious and lay persons and sometimes causing divisions within religious communities. Only branch associations of the Opus Angelorum have been officially recognised by the Church, such as the Guardian Angels Brotherhood founded in Innsbruck in 1961, the OA priests’ communities, now apparently established in almost 60 dioceses the world over, and the Order of the Regular Canons of the Holy Cross, an order rich in tradition but extinct until it was revived by the OA élite. The Opus Angelorum itself has been given no legal recognition.
“Strict secrecy is regarded as
of the utmost importance in the OA, so membership, with the exception of the
160 male and 150 female members of the Holy Cross Order (1992 figures), can
rarely be proved. In 1993, Fr Hansjörg Bitterlich,
Gabriele Bitterlich’s son, who at the time was still superior of the Holy Cross
Convent of St Petersberg in the Tyrol, spoke of
almost 10,000 regular members, and added that a further million people were
close to the Opus Angelorum. The OA itself has claimed that about a dozen
cardinals and more than 50 bishops have become members. With their help the
organization is pressing for influence in the Church, although it is doubtful
whether all these church dignitaries are acquainted with and approve of OA
writings like the Handbook. As early as 1988, when Cardinal Friedrich Wetter,
Archbishop of Munich, forbade Opus Angelorum activities in his diocese, an
ex-member warned on Bavarian television: I think the danger for the Church is
very great. I really believe that, step by step, the OA intends to occupy key
positions in the Church and make it into an
“The OA is not short of money.
In a raid on its Anápolis branch in
“One of the main accusations made against Opus Angelorum is that
it estranges young people from their families, and induces a fear of demons
which some members cannot cope with. The new generation of priests is usually
trained in remote places, at Anápolis in
“Bishop Henry Soden-Frauenhofen called the OA a sect, referring to a
definition by a
Above all the Opus Angelorum Handbook, which turned up outside the organization for the first time in 1986-87, is rooted in magic and superstition. It also reflects racist and political discrimination. It names special demons for gypsies, Merinin; for all Jewish commerce and trade, Ahasver; in all Jewish quarters, Chanastai; and for red workers Nepher, whereas none are named for other ethnic groups or for fascists. Women come off very badly . Of Dragon, the Father of the Furies, it is said: He let woman loose on the world as a ‘female devil, one with the demon who dominated her and was inherent in her and whom she made wholly her own’. For the former Bishop of Innsbruck, Reinhold Stecher, the Handbook is a reversion to an age obsessed with witch-hunting.
“The measures contained in the
“When in an interview he
severely criticized the
“But although since 1992 the new OA leadership has obviously tried to avoid causing even the slightest upset, news of the fate of families split by its activities, or reports from former members that brainwashing is still going on, have repeatedly caused a stir.
“Above all the case of a young
nurse, Eleonore Berger, has focused attention on the
Opus Angelorum in
“Many of those who know the Opus Angelorum will find it difficult to believe that its members have renounced their former beliefs. They suspect that the majority of OA members continue to hold on to the Bitterlich tenets and are sticking to their intention to infiltrate the Church.”
A good example that Marianne Poppenwimmer is correct and that Opus Angelorum has not stopped spreading its Gnostic ideas of angels, is Mother Angelica and her order of nuns.
Only a few months ago, on December 2, 2007 Mother Angelica and her Community consecrated themselves to their Guardian Angels, using the Opus Angelorum formula. In fact, Opus Angelorum spent a year of preparation with her Community to do this. In Mother Angelica’s own web site she sights the Opus Angelorum web site as the source of her consecration.
With its headquarters at the medieval Petersberg Castle in the Tyrol, to which only members or their guests have access, this association, which is sworn to strict secrecy and the rejection of all modernistic tendencies in the Church, puts one in mind of Umberto Eco’s novel, The Name of the Rose. Its members practice an external, over-zealous piety which has brought the Opus Angelorum many conservative sympathizers, but what has caused far greater unease is hidden under the surface: a very peculiar angel-demon doctrine and a way of inducing fear and exercising power.
The Opus Angelorum Handbook lists 243 demons together with 412 angels. One of the former, Schebarschenoth, sends his rays from the Planet Neptune and works with Adonai Melchim and Naschim, the shot-putter. He is the demon of the Great Chaos, who disrupts laws, confuses heavenly constellations in the universe, prevents children’s bones from developing properly, causes circulation trouble and glandular malfunction.
In another passage we hear of the magic rectangle which each demon spans over creation and fills with numbers behind which demons stand. Demons, we are told, are able to radiate through people, usually midwives, peasant women, gypsies, errand girls and old and vindictive peasants. Certain animals such as grey, tortoise-shell and black cats, speckled and black hens, pigs and short-haired dogs, bluebottles, rats and snakes are particularly receptive to demonic rays.
Although a recent examination of Opus Angelorum scripts shows that they contain a not inconsiderable number of contradictions, there may well be people who are capable of believing all this. But most are inclined to ask what all this has to do with Catholic Christianity.