Dennis Dubro strives to bring the principles of his spiritual beliefs to his job as an engineer in the nuclear division of a utility company in Fremont, Calif. He begins and ends each day with quiet prayer. Both are practices he developed in his 17 years as a member of Opus Dei. But Dubro, now 55, left the organization almost 20 years ago, disillusioned by the rigid obedience it demanded of its members.
After growing close to the organization while he was a student at M.I.T., he took the major step of becoming a numerary--a member who lives in an Opus Dei center--in 1974. That year Opus dispatched him to Sydney, Australia, to help run the finances at a men's dormitory. What he saw when he arrived there shocked him. "The accounts were in complete chaos," he recalls. "We didn't know how much was in the bank. There was money missing. Some account balances were off by hundreds of percents."
He took the problem to his spiritual director, who was also his boss, and was told not to worry. But as accounting irregularities kept surfacing, Dubro continued to raise the issue with the director and eventually took the matter up with one of the visiting inspectors who oversee local Opus operations. "I sat with him for an hour," says Dubro. "He said, 'These things don't happen in Opus Dei.' Then he asked how my spiritual life was going." (A spokesman for Opus Dei says he is not familiar with the details of this case but that "nobody was trying to cheat anyone.")
Dubro eventually grew frustrated with the assumption that questioning the organization was the same as questioning God's will and that leaving Opus would result in eternal damnation. He says he felt constantly pressured to recruit new members. He began to speak openly about his grievances and within a couple of years was asked to move out of the center. He left the group in 1987. "There is no ability to complain," he says. "It's absolute control, absolute obedience."