32. Do members of Opus Dei have to confess their sins publicly?

Of course not!

It has often been reported that members must confess their sins to the other members of the Work during the weekly meetings. (See Question 23 – What is a circle?). This is absolutely not true!

The practice that has been so distorted is called the “emendatio,” or in English, the “emendation.” This is when, after the examination of conscience that is part of the circle, a member of the Work kneels down and says aloud “In the presence of God Our Lord I accuse myself of _______.” The person giving the circle then assigns some task as a sort of reparation for the fault. Such a task would typically be “Pray a Memorare for the intentions of the Pope.”

There are some important things to note with regard to the emendation:

  • No one is required to do this.
  • The fault that is mentioned must be just that: a fault. It should NOT be a sin. It should be a fault in living some aspect of the spirit of the Work, such as “not going to Mass on Tuesday without a good reason,” or “failing to get out of bed on time.”
  • The person who plans to do the emendation should check with the director beforehand to make sure that it would be appropriate matter, and not a sin or something else that should be kept private (such as arguing with our spouse).
  • There is no pressure to do the emendation with any particular regularity. It is left COMPLETELY up to the individual, and the individual must take the initiative.

The purpose of the emendation is to foster a spirit of humility. It also serves to encourage the other members, who see that they are not alone in their struggle to be ever more faithful to Opus Dei’s spirit. It is very encouraging to see that even those who have been in the Work for a very long time are not perfect in the way they live their vocation.

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