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About the
Assistant Numeraries

Who are the Assistant

They are women of Opus Dei who, like all other members, commit to sanctifying their work and ordinary life. In their case, their work involves caring for people and centers within the Opus Dei family sphere. Nowadays, more than 4000 women from around the world choose this vocation within the Catholic Church, which is lived with love and commitment.


If you're interested in seeing what the life of a numerary assistant is like to better understand it, you can watch videos and read testimonies of Numerary Assistants from different parts of the world here. You can also follow Jéssica Oliveira on Instagram, where she regularly posts videos and photos sharing insights into her daily life.

Are the Numerary Assistants paid for their work?

Yes, it is paid. Catholics embody the values of the Gospel in various ways. Members of Opus Dei do so through their work and daily life. The vast majority pursue their professional lives in fields unrelated to Opus Dei (such as teaching, medicine, law, art, carpentry, etc.), while a few work in organizational tasks related to Opus Dei or in the houses where its members live. For numerary assistants, this call through work translates into their professional choice of caring for people and activities linked to the Prelature. Like any other job, this work is compensated.

It has been said that Numerary Assistants are the domestic service of Opus Dei. Is it true?

No, their vocation is not about performing a series of specific tasks. They are responsible for creating a family atmosphere and are focused on caring for the people who live in Opus Dei centers.


Beyond this clarification, and because in some media interventions related to the topic domestic work has been treated disparagingly, we believe it is very important to dignify that labor. We consider it necessary to recognize the social and economic value of caregiving and household tasks and the rights associated with them.

In some interviews it has been claimed that there is no formal employment relationship.

The work carried out by the Numerary Assistants in Opus Dei centers has always complied with the laws in force at each time. Numerary assistants, who are hired by the associations that own the centers where they work, are employed under the Labor Contract Law and under the UTEDyC agreement.


It is important to highlight that no formal labor complaints have been received in the last 40 years, nor since the public accusations were made, despite almost a year having passed and despite the Prelature always being fully available to the Judiciary.

Do the Numerary Assistants have to hand over their salary to Opus Dei?

Each one receives her salary through a bank account and uses it, among other things, to cover her personal expenses and the expenses of the house in which she lives.


This last point is important to clarify because part of the claim made by the 43 women was born here. The numeraries and assistant numeraries live in common houses. As members of Opus Dei live the Gospel through their work and daily life, these houses are maintained with the contribution of those who live there. From the director of a multinational company, a teacher, a nurse, a designer, a cook, all contribute, to the extent of their possibilities, to maintain the house in which they live. In this sense, the houses function as a family or community of solidarity where everyone has the same comforts, even if their contribution is different.


Part of the labor dispute arises from the fact that the lawyer of the women making the claims states that the voluntary contribution they made to the houses in which they lived when they were assistant numeraries represents, from their point of view, a remuneration that was not given to them.

About him Training Institute
for service companies (ICES)

In several newspaper articles the following phrase has been stated: "poor teenagers were recruited to work for free as domestic servants" What do you have to say about this?

It is absolutely false. This serious and dishonest accusation refers to a socio-educational initiative promoted by the Association for the Promotion of Culture (a non-profit association with legal status No. 1766) called the Training Institute for Service Companies (ICES). This was a Secondary Education Center, officially managed by the private sector, under the supervision of DIPREGEP (Provincial Directorate of Private Management Schools), and authorized by the Ministry of Culture and Education of the Nation, which also granted official recognition to all study plans.


The institute was established in 1973 as a plan for Basic Secondary Education (1st to 3rd year, ages 13 to 15) specializing in Service Administration in households and institutions. Considering the socio-cultural context of those years, in which many girls from vulnerable backgrounds only completed primary school, the initiative aimed to provide an option that would allow them to complete a cycle of secondary education (and then finish high school in another institution) while also providing technical training for a trade.


Later, with Federal Education Law No. 24,195, there was a shift, and ICES ceased to be a basic cycle of secondary school to become a Polimodal school (last 3 years of high school, ages 15 to 18) specializing in the Production of Goods and Services, with a focus on Hospitality.


As a tuition-free private educational institution, ICES facilitated access to girls from less economically privileged backgrounds. ICES also offered housing in the building adjacent to the school to students from out of town. The curriculum combined theoretical teaching with practical learning experiences carried out in the practice center attached to its headquarters.


In the 43 years of the institution's existence (1973-2016), a total of 1,080 students attended, of which 65% graduated with a qualification. Many of them successfully entered the job market, especially in the gastronomic, tourism, and health sectors, while others started their own businesses. Of the total (1,080), only 140 students applied to join Opus Dei (13%).


Therefore, the accusation is entirely implausible and unfounded. ICES was an educational and social support initiative, nonprofit, which invested significant resources thanks to the contributions of many individuals and the government. It had approval and oversight from provincial and national authorities and provided an opportunity for hundreds of girls from across the country not only to continue their studies but also to gain skills for a trade.​

The students worked?

The students did not work; they received professional training through educational programs expressly approved by the Ministry of Education. The students studied in secondary school (in the first stage, the basic cycle of the first three years; since 1994, with the federal education law, it shifted to the last three years of high school). The different stages had various formats of career guidance that included technical practices, educational programs, etc.

What was the training center?

The students carried out their learning practices in the areas of Hospitality and Gastronomy, at La Chacra and Las Tejas, two houses belonging to the Association for the Promotion of Culture, intended for the organization of cultural activities. They were located in an area adjacent to the school and the residential area.

Did some students not finish high school?

The ICES did not offer complete secondary education for several reasons (including the building capacity of the school and the student residence), and both the students and their parents were aware of this. It was always supervised and approved by the Ministry of Education. Those who graduated from ICES in the first stage, before 1994, could complete their secondary education in another institution. Some did so; others preferred training programs that did not require a complete secondary school diploma, or chose not to continue studying.

What benefits did the ICES students have?

In addition to receiving the education corresponding to the ICES curriculum, the students had a residence that covered all their needs for food and housing; school insurance; recreational expenses; a group health insurance plan in case they needed a doctor's visit at home.

How much did parents know about their daughters' life at ICES?

Being a school with student residence, maintaining a connection with the parents was always a priority. When enrolling their daughters, parents were acquainted with the proposal and received monthly information about the activities through a bulletin written by the students themselves. Additionally, every year a family meeting was organized, and it was common for many of them to travel long distances to visit the school and the families of the students. Parents signed an institutional coexistence agreement authorizing, among other things, their daughters' participation in the learning practice system.

Did ICES receive inspections?

Like any school, ICES received inspectors from the relevant authorities periodically and informally, as part of routine inspections, as documented in its minutes book kept at the DIPREGEP headquarters. There were almost weekly exchanges with the inspection head office on routine matters. Additionally, the group of inspectors from the head office was received several times, providing facilities for work meetings and for hosting executives from other institutions in the area.

Regarding the lawyer's claim
and the 43 former numeraries

What did Opus Dei do when it learned of the claim of 43 women who say they worked without receiving contributions?

Since receiving this claim, there has been an intention to respond and help resolve the situation of each individual, as has already been done on other occasions with people who needed to resolve their pension matters.


Additionally, the entities that own the centers where the accusing women worked were informed of the situation. They studied the issue in their board meetings and agreed that the claim was not legally valid and, furthermore, was extensively time-barred. However, they recommended studying each case and the contributions of each individual who had worked for the associations. If any periods had been omitted, they recommended completing them and assisting them in obtaining their pensions if they were in the process of doing so.

Have any formal complaints been received in court regarding these accusations?

No, none. In fact, despite having a lawyer who claims to represent them, and how simple it is to make a labor claim in Argentina, not one formal labor claim or any kind has been made. For more than 30 years, not a single claim has been received.


Due to the fact that there were no judicial requirements against the Prelature of Opus Dei, nor notification of denunciation before the ecclesiastical authorities, nor fruitful channels of dialogue through the women's spokesperson, the Prelature decided to take the initiative and gather all the possible elements on the facts and conducts that are pointed out in these public accusations, so that they are not exhausted only in them, but are evaluated in their context and the pertinent measures are taken in each case, if appropriate. For these reasons, a Listening and Study Commission was started, open to those who would be making the claims, and to those who lived and worked with them.

What is it and what do you hope to discover with the Listening and Study Commission?

Our main interest is to listen and create a channel of dialogue with those who have expressed having negative experiences in their relationship with the Prelature. It is undeniable that these individuals are wounded, and we want to help heal. Firstly, by listening and reviewing what has happened, taking into account the historical and social context. Secondly, by becoming more aware of our responsibility and, if necessary, acting accordingly. The work of this commission also aims to enhance processes that improve the service of the Prelature to the Church and society as a whole.

Some people have questioned the legitimacy of the commission on the grounds that they are members of Opus Dei studying what happened in the institution itself: What do they have to say about it?

This type of audit, in its various formats, is widely recognized within organizations, both public and private, as a tool to identify potential undesirable practices and act accordingly. It is a necessary first step. We believe that measures have been taken to ensure the independence of judgment of the commission by selecting individuals from countries not involved or who have never had any connection to the context in question.


It is important to remember that this commission has the function of understanding and studying what has happened in Opus Dei in the first place. It is a new environment that emerges, and it is logical for the parties involved to study what happened first, as there is no formal complaint before the courts or other fruitful channels of dialogue. The Prelature has not received any notification from judicial authorities, and therefore, it is a way to take the initiative so that these accusations do not remain mere words.

On the lifestyle
of the Assistant Numeraries

Does your life only consist of working in the care of the centers?

Like all members of Opus Dei, the core of their dedication is the sanctification of their work, and of all the moments of their lives: this means that the time dedicated to friends, to rest, to family, to the development of other skills outside of professional work, are realities as important in their lives as their work. Moreover, like all numeraries, the Assistant Numeraries have moments during the year dedicated to training and rest.

It has been said that the Assistant Numeraries were obliged to practice mortifications. Is this true?

This is false. Nobody in Opus Dei is obliged to practice mortifications.


It's important to clarify that mortification, such as fasting or other corporal penances, has existed for many centuries in the Catholic Church. Many of the most well-known and esteemed saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, have practiced them. In the 20th century, figures like St. Padre Pio, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Pope St. Paul VI also used them. Some corporal penances, like fasting and abstaining from meat, remain obligatory for all Catholic faithful on certain days of Lent.


For many Catholics, mortification helps resist the natural tendency towards personal comfort, which often prevents us from responding to the Christian call to love God and serve our neighbor for the love of God. However, in all cases, it is a personal and voluntary choice.

Is it true that when they expressed a desire to leave Opus Dei, pressure was exerted to prevent them from doing so?

That is not the spirit of Opus Dei. Of course, if individuals were not properly supported when they expressed a desire to leave their vocation, it was a mistake, it's wrong, and it should not happen.


However, while there are cases that have expressed negative experiences, there are also cases of positive experiences, where individuals who belonged to Opus Dei express gratitude for the support, containment, and encouragement they received to try a different way of life.

About the Permanent
Healing and Resolution Office

What were the conclusions of the Listening and Study Commission?

Firstly, the initiative has proven to be healing for those who have participated in it: it has allowed for apologies to be made where necessary and for specific actions of reparation to be carried out in those situations.


This conclusion has led the Regional Vicar to establish a Healing and Resolution Office that will operate permanently and be open to individuals who were part of Opus Dei, who have not yet come forward, and who wish to do so to resolve any specific issues or discuss their experiences within the Prelature.


It is also necessary for the Civil Associations that promote educational, training, assistance, or solidarity projects inspired by the teachings of Opus Dei to continue reviewing the labor and social security issues of the people who work there.


At the same time, it is important for Opus Dei to intensify the training of individuals who accompany vocational discernment processes. It is also essential to ensure that in all cases there is a separation between the personal and professional realms, so that individuals who provide accompaniment or spiritual formation do not have direct professional relationships with those they accompany.

Has the Prelature asked for forgiveness in those cases it considers appropriate?

To those women who have expressed their wounds, we ask for forgiveness for not having known how to listen in time to provide support and prevent the pain they are expressing today. It is evident that there are cases in which we have failed to accompany, and it is significant for those of us who, as part of the Catholic Church, want to live a life guided by Christian values. In that regard, we have failed, and not only does their pain hurt us, but also that we did not have the sensitivity to see and understand it at the time.


Each story is different, and that is why we consider it so important to listen to each person. In fact, this has allowed us to personally apologize in cases where it was appropriate for specific issues and to take actions of reparation in those specific situations.


However, some things have been said in the media that are false and taken out of context. We believe that these issues should be clarified.


But the fact that some people have made false or out-of-context statements does not invalidate their voice, and it does not imply that they may have gone through other situations that do warrant an apology. That is why these types of listening spaces are so healing because they allow us to understand each story with its particularities.

Why was a permanent
office created?

Each person has their own time, and we want to respect that. We have seen that those women who attended expressed having a good experience, they thanked us, and in some cases, healing and reparation were possible. We do not want to close the door to that possibility of healing for the rest, which is why we have created a permanent commission so that each one can come forward when they feel ready to do so, without a time limit.

How will the Healing and Resolution Office operate?

The Healing and Resolution Office is a team created by the regional vicar to collaborate with him in the task of listening to and channeling responses to all those individuals who, having been part of the institution at some point, wish to share their experiences, whether for healing, proposing improvements, or resolving any issues.


The Office will receive individuals who were part of the Work and voluntarily wish to speak. It will also take the initiative to conduct other necessary interviews.


For this function, it will have individuals specifically dedicated to listening, as well as legal and communication advisors.


Based on the analysis of each case, the Office will recommend to the Prelature and the owning and managing entities the measures or actions it deems appropriate.

Who will be part of the Healing and Resolution Office?

The Office of Healing and Resolution will be coordinated by individuals specially trained to accompany in these types of listening processes, including members of Opus Dei as well as individuals external to the organization. To contact the office, one should write to

On the Motu Proprio
"Ad Charisma tuendum"

Is it true that the Motu Proprio issued by Pope Francis is linked to these accusations?

As the Holy See itself has informed, the Pope modified two articles of the Apostolic Constitution "Ut sit" of 1982 to harmonize them with the new Apostolic Constitution "Praedicate Evangelium" which came into force on June 5 and which put an end to the process of reform of the Roman Curia that has lasted almost a decade. Therefore, the publication of this Motu Proprio has nothing to do with the accusations made by women who belonged to Opus Dei.


The Holy See itself has explained the meaning of the Motu Proprio as a call to become aware of the potential of the charism of Opus Dei in the mission of the Church. Pope Francis says: "according to the gift of the Spirit received by St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, in fact, the Prelature of Opus Dei, with the guidance of the Prelate himself, fulfills the task of spreading the call to holiness in the world, through the sanctification of work and of family and social duties.

For more information about Motu Proprio "Ad charisma tuendum" you can access this link.

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