Opus Dei to Elect a New Prelate -- Election Begins on 21st of January
On January 23rd the third Prelate of Opus Dei will be selected to chose the successor of Prelate Javier Echevarria who passed on Dec 12th.
(Rome) This coming January 21 begins in Rome to elect a new prelate of Praelatura Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei , called Opus Dei for short, the only previously existing personal prelature in the Church. Upon the death of Prelate Javier Echevarría on December 12 in Rome, an has election become necessary.
The "Work of God," founded in 1928 by Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás (1902-1975) in Madrid received the legal status in the Church of a personal prelature. The approximately 90,000 members are directly subordinate to the prelate of the bishop's rank and not to the respective diocesan bishop. The third successor of the founder, and also the third prelate, will be elected. Josemarìa Escrivá was sanctified in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is June 26, his dies natalis (death).
His first successor, and also the first prelate, Álvaro del Portillo, was proclaimed as beatified in 2014 by Pope Francis. He directed the Opus Dei from 1975-1994.
As Opus Dei explains on its website, the new prelate must be a priest who has completed his 40th year of life, be a member of the electoral body, and belong at least ten years of the Prelature and be incardinated as a priest for at least five years. These prerequisites are currently fulfilled by 94 priests from 45 states.
The election meeting will begin on 21 January with the General Assembly of the Council for the female members. On the 23rd, the actual election congress will follow. Any member of the Women's Council may give a vote. The election congress, which is occupied by men, would take these recommendations into account.
If the chosen person accepts the election, Pope Francis is asked for his confirmation. Officially, he has the right of appointment for the prelate of Opus Dei. Election and appointment of a prelate is for lifetime. The favorite candidate is Fernando Ocáriz, the long-standing Vicar General of the "Work", who was named by Prelate Echevarría to be his representative a few days before his death until the choice of his successor. Ocáriz has been the primary co-author of the Declaration Dominus Iesus of 2000. Since 1986 he has been Consultor of the Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith. Under Pope Benedict XVI he was one of three theological members appointed by the Holy See who participated in doctrinal discussions with the Society of St. Pius X.
The electorate will have 194 voters, priests and laity. They must have reached the age of 32 and have been a member of the Prelate for at least nine years.
Besides the election of a prelate, the election congress will also make the choice of the General Council that supports the prelate in the management of the Prelature. The term of office of the General Council lasts eight years.
The elections, however, are not the only issue. It examines the situation of prelature and talks about worldwide apostolic activities. For the forthcoming, eight-year term of office of the General Council, the election congress will elaborate a corresponding management program.