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If that is the case--if much of the negative feeling regarding Opus at this point is displaced anger over the direction of the church--then The Da Vinci Code may be the best fate that could befall it. The movie will not deter Opus' usual constituency--conservative Catholics do not look to Ron Howard for guidance. But by forcing Opus into greater transparency, the film could aid it: if the organization is as harmless and "mature" as Bohlin contends, then such exposure could bring in a bumper crop of devotees--with perhaps even more to come if, as seems likely, American Catholicism becomes both more Hispanic and more conservative.
That is the kind of outcome Julian Cardinal Herranz, Opus' ranking Vatican official, expects. Long ago, he says, when he was editing a university newspaper, someone submitted a story claiming that Opus Dei was part of a worldwide conspiracy. Fascinated, Herranz began talking to Opus members, eventually becoming one himself. "That article I read was fiction," he says. "And now I'm here. I became a priest, I came to Rome, I became a bishop, and now a Cardinal. All because I read a fictional story about Opus Dei."