Blessed Alvaro, a Key Figure in the History of Opus Dei
May 4, 2015
The theme of the monographic study section of Volume 9 of the journal Studia et Documenta is Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo, who was beatified on September 27, 2014 - in the centenary year of his birth. A series of four articles, preceded by an Introduction, analyze several aspects of the life of St. Josemaría Escrivá's first successor at the helm of Opus Dei. These articles do not constitute a definitive biography. Instead, they are studies which seek to clarify facts or provide useful tools for future research about Blessed Alvaro, as a key figure in the history of Opus Dei.
The first article, by F. Requena, in Spanish, looks at the men who taught Blessed Alvaro del Portillo theology. St. Josemaría was determined that the first members of Opus Dei to be ordained should receive thorough ecclesiastical training. Accordingly, he took care to select a highly qualified set of teachers for them. Blessed Alvaro's studies for the priesthood provide the key to various aspects of his later life and work, from his responsibilities as head of Opus Dei to his relationship with many twentieth-century theologians and canon lawyers, as well as his work for the Second Vatican Council and, afterwards, the revision of the Code of Canon Law.
It is his work for the Second Vatican Council that is the subject of the second article. In this article, also in Spanish, Manuel Valdés examines Blessed Alvaro’s work as secretary to the Commission De Disciplina Cleri et Populi Christiani ("on the discipline of the clergy and the Christian people"), as well as his contribution to producing the final draft of the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis on the priesthood.
The remaining two articles in the monographic study section deal with aspects of Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo's life as head of Opus Dei. The first article, in Italian, by Carlo Pioppi, explores the expansion of Opus Dei between 1978 and 1993 in some South and Central American countries (Bolivia, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua) and Europe (Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland) – this study will be followed by a second article to be published in a future volume of Studia et Documenta. The final article, in Spanish, by M. E. Ossandón, describes the friendship between Blessed Alvaro and St. John Paul II. This friendship, grounded in Blessed Alvaro's filial attitude towards a Pope who was six years younger than himself, characterized the greater part of his time as head of Opus Dei.
Blessed Alvaro presenting some simple gifts to the recently-elected Pope St. John Paul II on the feast of St Nicholas in 1978, following a Polish custom. Msgr. del Portillo commented that it was the sort of “kind gesture that children would offer their father”.
Learn more about Volume 9 of the journal Studia et Documenta.