Opus Dei: Fact and Fiction

ByABC News via logo

April 18, 2006 — -- In Dan Brown's best-selling novel, "The Da Vinci Code," the secretive conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei and its operatives play the villains -- among them, a self-flagellating monk turned serial killer.

The actual organization is launching an unprecedented publicity campaign, called "Operation Lemonade," to combat the negative image created by the book.

The movie adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code" is set to be released May 17. The plot contends that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants, and it claims that Opus Dei and the Catholic Church were at the center of a cover-up.

"Good Morning America" got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Opus Dei's New York headquarters, and looked at the facts and fiction surrounding the group.

What Is Opus Dei's Mission?

Positive Interpretation: An innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, complete fidelity to the Catholic Church, and enabling each Catholic layperson to take full responsibility for the mission of sanctifying society.

Negative Interpretation: Often been accused of secrecy, ultraconservative beliefs, a right-wing political agenda -- dating back to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in Spain -- and even cultlike methods.

The 'Da Vinci Code' Villain: Silas

In "The Da Vinci Code," Silas is a crazed albino monk who physically punishes himself and murders people in the name of his religion. Opus Dei, however, says the real Silas is peaceful and soft-spoken Silas Agbim, a stockbroker from Nigeria who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife and has been a member of the group for 28 years.

"I'm not, of course, I'm not deep undercover," he said. "I am not an albino. I am not a monk -- far from that."

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