Josemaría Escrivá

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Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (January 9, 1902 – June 26, 1975) (also known as José María or Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás, born José María Mariano Escrivá y Albás) was a Roman Catholic priest from Spain and the founder of Opus Dei. He was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, who declared Saint Josemaría should be "counted among the great witnesses of Christianity".[1][2][3] He is the most recently deceased canonized saint of the Catholic Church.

Escrivá gained a doctorate in civil law at the University of Madrid and a doctorate in theology at the Lateran University in Rome. He was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and Consultor of the Congregation of Seminaries and Consultor of the Pontificial Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law.

Escrivá's principal work was the foundation, government and expansion of Opus Dei, an organization that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life can be a path to sanctity. Both Escrivá and Opus Dei have aroused controversy, primarily revolving around allegations of secrecy, elitism, cult-like practices within Opus Dei, and political involvement with right-wing causes, such as the dictatorships of Generals Francisco Franco in Spain (1939–1975) and Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973–1990).[4] On the other hand, some independent journalists, among them CNN Vatican analyst John Allen, Jr., say that many of these accusations are unproven and have grown from black legends propagated by enemies of Opus Dei and Escrivá.[5][6][7][8] Opus Dei and Escrivá continue to be polarizing subjects among certain members of the Catholic Church. Popes and Catholic leaders strongly endorse Escrivá's teaching on the universal call to holiness, the role of laity, and sanctification of work.[9]

Escrivá's best known book is The Way which has sold more than five million copies in 50 languages. His writings have sold a total of eight million copies. According to John Allen, among Catholics St. Josemaría Escrivá is "reviled by some and venerated by millions more."[5]

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