Rome, Italy, Jan 24 – Controversial Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei said Tuesday it had named Fernando Ocariz as its new chief following the death of its 84-year-old leader.
Pope Francis officially named Ocariz, 72, as the organisation’s fourth leader, an Opus Dei statement said.
He replaces bishop Javier Echevarria, who died of a lung infection last month.
Present in many European countries and in Latin America, Opus Dei is recognised by the Catholic Church and counts 92,600 members who practise a strict faith. More than half of its members are women.
It was founded in 1928 by a young priest who was convinced that holiness could be found in daily life, notably through work.
Critics accuse of the group of being secretive and it has often aroused interest over its supposed influence, with politicians and financiers said to be among its members.
Ocariz was born in Paris to a Spanish family who had fled their country’s civil war.
A science graduate who later trained as a priest, he had served as Opus Dei’s number two since 2014 and was elected chief Monday night at a meeting of 156 priests and male laymen.