Accusations of sectarian drifts and abuse of the state of weakness could now be used against Catholic institutions

 A young woman, Catherine T., is taking the Opus Dei to court on the grounds of labor exploitation. The first court hearing will take place in Paris on 22-23 September.

 Catherine T. was introduced into the movement without her knowledge in 1985. At the age of 14, she was advised to enroll in a Catholic catering technical school in Dosnon abut at the end of the schoolyear she realized she was in a school linked to the Opus Dei. She now says she was indoctrinated by the Opus Dei as she was put under the authority of a “conscience director who was regulating all her life. In 1987, she was pressured to join a religious order, she told the press agency AFP. Obedience, poverty and chastity were part of her daily life. She was then in charge of housekeeping tasks. During 13 years, she was given labor contracts by associations linked to the Opus Dei.

The “Association de culture universitaire et technique” (ACUT/ Association of university and technical culture) which is prosecuted claims to only have a “spiritual link” with the Opus Dei. Catherine T. says she was working every day from 7 am to 9 pm, she did not have any day of rest and any vacation, and she was badly paid. She also complains that she had no freedom of movement and she was always accompanied by a member of the Opus Dei, even to the doctor’s. In 2001, her parents discovered that she was in a disastrous physical state: at the age of 29, she only weighed 39 kilos. Their family doctor needed two years and a half of treatment to improve her health.

After nine years of investigation, two members of the Opus Dei and ACUT will appear at the correctional court in Paris on the grounds of “salary contrary to human dignity” and “hidden work”.

Her lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut who was hired on several occasions by the anti-sect movement UNADFI, invoked “mental manipulation”, “mind-destroying work conditions” and “situation of economic dependence” in the complaint that he filed at the end of 2011.

Whatever the court decision in this case, it is now clear that Catholic institutions and religious orders may tomorrow become the victims of the laws against sectarian drifts, including the abuse of the state of weakness.

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