Carlism and Opus Dei (I)


Don Álvaro d´Ors (izquierda), junto Monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer (centro) y Eduardo Ortiz de Landázuri (derecha)

Originally published: La Esperanza


We are reproducing a text by Manuel de Santa Cruz (pseudonym of Alberto Ruiz de Galarreta) entitled El Carlismo y la Universidad de Navarra, taken from the 1960 volume of his monumental “Apuntes y documentos para la historia del tradicionalismo español” (Notes and Documents for the History of Spanish Traditionalism). We do so by retitling the text El Carlismo y el Opus Dei (Carlism and Opus Dei), because it is the same identifier of this relationship, as the reader of these pages will soon understand. With his unmistakable and incisive psychological style, the author recounts the origins of the historical and political significance of an institution that (directly or indirectly, deliberately or spontaneously, questions that should not cloud the historian’s judgment on the objective meaning of the facts) contributed much to the consolidation of the liberal ecclesiastical establishment in that region, which, after the Second Vatican Council, offered the most propitious elements for opposing it. Because of its length, we will divide the text into three successive parts.


At the beginning of the decade of the fifties, two young men, recently graduated in Law, arrived in Pamplona without any notice; they said that they wanted to help themselves economically by teaching some courses in Law; they went completely unnoticed, as they intended to do. The following year they opened a discreet academy, and the year after that, without any publicity, they managed to establish themselves, with an already considerable number of students, in some abandoned official premises called the “Cámara de Comptos” (Chamber of Comptos). Throughout the decade, they changed names and premises several times, with subtle maneuvers, always growing and improving. Their formal identification, difficult and elusive, was fixed by the people with the designation of “the ones from Opus”. Finally, they built their own new buildings and colleges, which in 1960 received the title of University of Navarra.

This process contrasted with the verbal and graphic agitation of some religious of different orders who, from some of their magazines published in Madrid, launched into the ether, far from the ground on which their feet were treading, a campaign of theoretical and Byzantine articles, very boring, about the rights of the Church in the field of education. This contrast was an example of the two possible ways of doing things: from the bottom up and from the top down.

The presence of this group in the society of Pamplona, always enterprising and growing, despite its desire to advance on tiptoes, inevitably ended up creating conflicting interests and two currents, one of friends and the other of enemies. The latter could do little, because the battle they could have fought soon moved from the local to the national level, where all the important issues were decided; not to mention the international level, since the Vatican was behind those innocent boys.

Of course, as was inevitable in a region with such a dense Carlist presence as Navarra there were also intersections with the Carlists, and soon also at the national level. Those who ran the University flirted with Carlism at both levels, local and national, when it suited them, but they took great care to ensure that nobody could systematically identify the University of Navarra with Carlism. What was inevitable, because it was real, was the identification of the University with Opus Dei, and this made the specific relations with Carlism depend to a large extent on other general relations between Carlism and Opus Dei. The same thing happened to the University with all its other relations; Opus Dei was always involved.

In the University there was a little of everything: only three professors, Don Alvaro d’Ors, Don Pedro Lombardía and the North American Frederick Wilhelmsen, were openly Carlist. Don Federico Suárez Verdeguer had created an atmosphere of philosophical traditionalism in the Historical Seminary, which he directed, but it was purely intellectual and not at all activist; moreover, his transfer from Carlism to the position of preceptor of Don Juan Carlos de Borbón had created a grudge against him that had not yet been extinguished. Of a completely different ideology was Don Antonio Fontán, Juanista, liberal and progressive, who had a great influence and created a hostile environment for anything Carlist. Other professors were either indifferent to politics or more or less veiled progressives. Of the three thousand students that the university grew to have, about thirty were affiliated with the A.E.T., but they were already imbued with the environmental progressivism that was not cured in those classrooms.

As in other matters, we condense in a single subtitle, this one, the development of the subject over several years; we hope that in this way it will be clearer to understand, which would be difficult if the real chronological dispersion were maintained.

(To be continued)

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