Pope Francis yesterday evening confirmed Mgr Fernando Ocáriz as prelate of Opus Dei, after his election earlier that day in the Opus Dei elective congress.
According to the Prelature's own statutes, the candidate selected by the congress must then be ratified by the Pope. But within hours of the election the Holy Father had already answered to signal his approval, a sign of his confidence in Ocáriz who is a well-known theologian and who has served in various departments in the Holy See.
Opus Dei is part of the Catholic Church and promotes the message that everyone is called to holiness in their ordinary daily life at work and at home.
With this appointment, Mgr Fernando Ocáriz, who until now has been Auxiliary Vicar of Opus Dei, becomes the third successor of its founder St Josemaría at the head of the prelature, following the death of the previous leader Mgr Javier Echevarría, this past December 12th. His nomination marks a new epoch in Opus Dei's history as he will be the first leader of the organisation who did not work personally alongside the saint.
Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz was born in Paris on October 27, 1944, to a Spanish family exiled in France due to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). He is the youngest of eight children.
He graduated from the University of Barcelona with a degree in Physics in 1966. He received a licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1969 and a doctorate in Theology from the University of Navarre in 1971, the year he was ordained a priest. In his first years as a priest he was especially involved in ministry to young people and to university students.
He is a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 1986), as well as other departments of the Roman Curia: the Congregation for the Clergy (since 2003) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (since 2011). He has been a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy since 1989. In the 1980s, he was among the professors who began the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome), where he was a tenured professor (now emeritus) in Fundamental Theology.
He has published over 30 books on theological and philosophical themes, particularly on Christology, such as The Mystery of Jesus Christ and a book on God as Father. His philosophical works include a book on Marxism and another on Voltaire and tolerance.
Since 1994 he has been the Vicar General of Opus Dei, and in 2014 he was named Auxiliary Vicar of the Prelature. Over the past 22 years he has accompanied the previous Prelate, Mgr Javier Echevarría, in his pastoral trips to more than 70 countries.
From a young age he has been an avid fan of tennis, which he continues to play, and is a keen cyclist.
In the upcoming days, the new prelate will appoint the members of his central councils in Rome who will assist him during the next eight years.