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Their Kingdom Come - Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei
Robert Hutchinson (Award-winning correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Telegraph)
1997
p. 153-158

By the early 1960s some of Escriva de Balaguer's children were moving in rather rarefied spheres. Alfredo Sanchez Bella was one. He had broken with Opus Dei in the early 1940s but returned to Escriva de Balaguer's fold in the 1950s. [1] In 1949, the year after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, he co-founded with Archduke Otto von Habsburg the European Centre of Documentation and Information (CEDI), whose objective was to construct around the Spanish Borbóns a federation of European states united in Christianity and anti-Communism. This sounded very much like a modern resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire over which Charles V had reigned. Like the Spanish empire of old, the envisaged Catholic federation was intended to have large-spectrum antennae in Latin America and the United States. CEDI was believed to be an auxiliary operation of Opus Dei. [2]

[1] Ynfante, Op. cit., p. 353; also Artigues, Op. cit., pp. 38 and 149. In a lawsuit brought by the German branch of Opus Dei in 1985 against Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, publishers of Aktuell Rororo Yearbook, lawyers for the Prelature claimed inter alia that 'Alfredo Sanchez Bella is not a member of Opus Dei and was not a member when he supposedly occupied [public office].' A decision against Welt Aktuell required that the 1986 edition of the yearbook be withdrawn from sale. However, Opus Dei admitted to the author on 30 October 1994 that Alfredo Sanchez Bella had indeed been a member though he 'disconnected himself from Opus Dei before holding a fixed political system [sic] or a position in Spanish public life.' According to Maria del Carmen Tapia, he rejoined the Work as a supernumerary after marrying in London. The Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia in its 28 June 1995 edition claimed that Alfredo Sanchez Bella was still a member.
[2] Jean-Pie Lapierre, 'Puissance et rayonnement de l'Opus Dei', Revue Politique et Parlementaire, Paris, September 1965. The article claimed that CEDI was an instrument of Opus Dei. This was repeated by Le Vaillant, Op. cit., p.151.

Although headquartered in Munich, it held its annual general meetings at the Monastery of El Escorial, near Madrid, and it continued functioning throughout the Cold War. Its tentacles spread among Catholic Monarchist circles throughout western Europe. Archduke Otto, who was educated in Spain and completed his studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, reportedly became one of Opus Dei's most treasured Old Guard supernumeraries.[1] Like Opus Dei, CEDI published no membership lists, but the president of its Belgian chapter, Chevalier Marcel de Roover, was known to have close ties with the Belgian royal family. Indeed, Archduke Otto's nephew, Lorenz von Habsburg, son of international banker Karel von Habsburg, married Princess Astrid of Belgium, daughter of King Albert E. Astrid's aunt, the former Queen Fabiola, was related through the House of Aragon to the Spanish Borbón family. Professor Luc de Heusch of the Free University of Brussels, an expert on Sacred Kingship, maintained that Queen Fabiola, a disciple of Escriva de Balaguer, 'introduced Opus Dei to the Catholic aristocracy of Europe.' [2]

An idea of the company CEDI kept can be gathered from the membership of a sister organization, the Pan-European Union, headquartered in Zurich. Also headed by Archduke Otto, among its members were two Belgian prime ministers, an Italian industrialist close to the Vatican, a former French prime minister, his legal counsellor, an aide to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the secretary of Giscard's Independent Republican party, a professor of theology at the Grand Seminary of Fribourg who was a Secret Chamberlain to the Pontifical Household, the deputy head of NATO's intelligence division, a director of West German intelligence, the Spanish ambassador to the European Community and Alfredo Sanchez Bella, who had served as Spanish ambassador to Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and, in the 1960s, Italy. While in Rome, he headed the Office of Diplomatic Information, Spain's exterior secret service for Europe. [3] Franco named him Minister of Tourism and Information in 1969.

[1] 'La Maffia blanche', Golias No. 30, Lyon, Summer 1992, p. 168.
[2] Professor Luc de Heusch discussion with the author at University of London lecture on 'Monarchy, Spiritual and Temporal', 14 October 1993.
[3] Ynfante, Op. cit., p. 353.

Many Pan-European members belonged to a right-wing association that had little formal structure but became known as the 'Pinay Group', after Antoine Pinay, a former French prime minister. In a sense it was broader than the Union because its participants were not exclusively Catholic and its meetings were regularly attended by right-wing Americans. These included former CIA director William Colby, banker David Rockefeller and public relations pioneer Crosby M. Kelly. But the Pinay Group was essentially a European Community lobby established to counter Marxism. It was plugged into virtually every west European intelligence service. Although it met under the auspices of Pinay, the co-ordinator for the Group was Jean Violet, a right-wing Gaullist and friend of Giulio Andreotti. [1] The Pinay Group was said to be another Opus Dei auxiliary operation, and its principal protagonists, Pinay and Violet, were variously reported to be connected with the Work.

Rumours of Nazi collaboration led to Violet's arrest following the war, but he was quickly released 'on orders from above'. [2] Shortly afterwards, he offered his services to SDECE, the French counter-espionage establishment referred to in the trade as La Piscine (the Swimming Pool). He joined Antoine Pinay's entourage in 1955. By this time Violet had become close to several Opusian personalities, among them Alfredo Sanchez Bella and Otto von Habsburg.

In his journeys, Violet came to know Father Yves-Marc Dubois, a French Dominican who was in charge of international relations for his Order. But Dubois represented more than the foreign policy interests of the black friars of Faubourg Saint Honoré. He was described as a 'member of the Vatican's intelligence network, if not its head'. [3] He popped up from time to time as an unofficial member of the Holy See's delegation to the United Nations. When in Paris, he stayed in the Dominican chapter house at 222 rue Faubourg Saint Honoré, in the Eighth Arrondissement, within walking distance of Jean Violet's apartment at 46 rue de Provence, in the Ninth Arrondissement.

[1] Antoine Pinay was a member of Marshal Pétain's wartime National Council until the closing days of the Second World War when he helped General de Gaulle to power. He served as prime minister in 1952, under the Fourth Republic. He died on 13 December 1994, aged 102. Various sources claim that Pinay was an Opus Dei supernumerary, most recently Nicolas Dehan in 'Un êtrange phénomène pastoral: l'Opus Dei', Le Sel de la Terre No. 11, Paris, Winter 1994-95, p. 139.
[2] Pierre Péan, V, Fayard, Paris 1984, p. 41
[3] Ibid., p.49

Dubois introduced Violet to his 'Swiss correspondent', Father Henri Marmier, the 'official' of the diocese of Fribourg and editor-in-chief of APIC, the Catholic International Press Agency based in Fribourg. Father Marmier and a Polish Dominican, Father Josef-Marie Bochenski, founded under the auspices of the University of Fribourg the Institute of Sovietology. The Institute's extra-curricular activities included the running of a clandestine network that provided aid to Catholic groups behind the Iron Curtain, particularly Poland. The Institute was in part funded by what officials in Fribourg euphemistically called 'the American grant'. According to the registrar's office at the University of Fribourg, Opus Dei sent several of its members to the Institute.

Another of the Institute's supporters was Violet's boss, General Paul Grossin, chief lifeguard at the Swimming Pool from 1957 to 1962. Grossin was said by some to have transferred fees owing to Violet directly to Father Marmier's 'charities' in Poland. [1] (Violet was made a Chevalier de Légion d'Honneur by General de Gaulle. He claimed to British author Godfrey Hodgson that he was in charge of covert political operations for SDECE until he retired as an active spy in 1970. [2] According to Count Alexandre de Marenches, the chief lifeguard from 1970 to 1981, Violet was 'given the heave' because he cost the French government more than any other spy on SDECE's long list of secret agents. De Marenches further claimed that Violet had been a triple agent working in addition for the Vatican and the West German BND. Other sources said that he was in fact fired because he knew too much about the sexual follies of one of France's leading ladies.)

Others who attended Pinay Group meetings included Franz-Josef Strauss, head of the Christian Socialist Party in Bavaria and for a time West German Defence Minister, Dr Alois Mertes, another West German minister, and Prince Turki bin-Faisal, a Deputy Minister of Defence and director of Saudi intelligence. Both Strauss and Mertes were said to be linked to Opus Dei, though Mertes later denied it. Prince Turki's elder brothers were King Faisal and Prince Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Minister of Defence.

[1] Ibid, p. 50.
[2] Interview with Godfrey Hodgson at Oxford, 11 September 1993.

Sanchez Bella, von Habsburg and Violet were convinced that a Europe united against Communism required a strong figurehead - e.g., King Juan Carlos of Spain - who could act as the torchbearer of Catholic morality, and around whom the Occident could rally as a figure of wholesome fortitude. However a figurehead with all the moral fortitude in the world would be hamstrung if he lacked sufficient resources to act on the same plane as popularly elected governments. They also realized that to achieve this would require some financial cobbling of heroic proportions. A plan began to take shape at a luncheon at the Hotel Westburg in Brussels in the autumn of 1969 that was attended by Alain de Villegas, his brother-in-law Florimond Damman, a devotee of the archduke, and Jean Violet. Whether the plan was another example of pillería by the sons of Escriva de Balaguer is open to interpretation. Although ultimately uncovered as a racket, it proved relatively profitable. Some of the funds that subsequently went missing were traced to religious works in Spain.

Alain de Villegas had studied engineering at Louvain. He was an ecologist, antinuclear to the core, and believed in flying saucers. He was above all a staunch European and ferociously anti-Communist.

Convinced that the world was running out of water, Villegas used to say, 'We can live without oil, but not without water.' He disclosed to alleged triple agent Violet that he had invented a machine capable of detecting ground water. Violet did not need to be told that such a machine, if it performed as claimed, could be immensely valuable to a country like Spain, whose tourist industry was hobbled by lack of water, or to Middle Eastern countries.

Villegas explained that he and his associate, Professor Aldo Bonassoli, had developed a low-energy desalination process capable of transforming seawater into fresh water, and as a result of this they were developing a 'water-sniffing' machine. They claimed that their invention could determine underground structures up to depths of six kilometres. Villegas showed Violet a small-scale prototype and convinced the lawyer of its potential. As financing was needed for a full-scale prototype, Violet agreed to speak to his friend and client Carlo Pesenti, an Italian industrialist close to the Vatican, and to Crosby Kelly in New York.

Crosby Kelly made no bones about his political leanings. 'I am a Rightist, Conservative and anti-Communist,' he told Hodgson. He was said to be a sometime CIA operative. He had designed and launched the sales campaign for the first Ford motorcar produced after the Second World War, and was among Robert McNamara's original 'whiz kids' at Ford. For thirteen years he had been on the board of Litton Industries. Kelly told Violet he would not invest a penny until satisfied that the invention was capable of finding water. Pesenti, on the other hand, put up some capital. Spain's new tourist minister, Sanchez Bella, placed several test sites at the team's disposal. Kelly monitored Villegas's progress. He told Hodgson that the Spanish government paid the drilling costs. [1]

The search for water went on with slight success for two years until interrupted by the Yom Kippur War of 1973, which brought about an Islamic oil boycott and subsequent quadrupling of world oil prices. Villegas kept his project alive by announcing that his 'sniffer machines' could also detect oil. Pesenti was persuaded to invest additional funds.

As the world geo-political equation had suddenly changed, the project was transformed into a crusade to liberate Christian Europe from dependence upon Islamic oil. Pesenti's engineers equipped a DC-3 with one of the 'sniffing' machines. Using contacts provided by Antoine Pinay, they flew to South Africa and were given government authorization to conduct tests over Zululand. A promising site was identified and drilling began, but by the end of 1975 the costs had become so heavy that Pesenti again opted out. The Zululand borehole eventually bottomed out at 6,000 metres, having broken the drill stem, with nothing more than traces of Karoo basalt to show for the millions spent in drilling expenses.

By this time Violet's Spanish associates lost interest. In fact, with the assassination of Carrero Blanco in December 1973, Opus Dei's political fortunes had changed and the new prime minister swept the Opusian technocrats from government. But they had done their job well, preparing the way for a restoration of the monarchy under Prince Juan Carlos, which occurred upon Franco's death two years later. Meanwhile, thanks in part to Prince Turki, southern Spain had become a playground for Saudi royals. Madrid and Riyadh enjoyed such friendly relations that even the State Department in Washington was envious. Spain was given long-term access to Saudi oil on preferential terms.

[1] Sniffer article (unpublished) by Godfrey Hodgson, p. 24.

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