Dan Brown stated in his fact section
“The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brainwashing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known as “corporal mortification.” Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million World Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.”
Silas the albino Monk is supposed to be a member of Opus Dei. The self mutilation he endures heightens the sinister nature of the character. Opus Dei has a response to the allegations in the Da Vinci code at their web site.
Typically in the Da Vinci Code organizations and rituals have been dramatically sensationalized.
Ex-pastor sentenced for stealing from flock
Mesa man draws 12 1/2 years in prison
Michael KieferThe Arizona RepublicApr. 30, 2005 12:00 AM
A Mesa man who preyed on elderly and disabled members of a church congregation where he was assistant pastor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court for theft and fraud. According to the terms of his plea agreement, Douglas Sanchez, 57, must also serve seven years of probation and make restitution of more than $1 million to his victims.Over a 10-year period, Sanchez befriended the churchgoers and persuaded them to put their properties or savings in his control, promising to make investments on their behalf. He bilked some of them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Mr. Sanchez has turned our lives upside down,” said Carol Butler of Mesa, who, with her husband, lost more than $220,000 to Sanchez. “At this point I see no way out of our debt.”Other victims who spoke at his sentencing described how they would give good money after bad to their friend and pastor.”I feel like he came into my house and robbed us,” Linda Perrotta said. “He didn’t have a gun, but he robbed us.”Perrotta and her husband lost more than $150,000.Sanchez was indicted on 24 counts of fraud, theft, forgery, identity theft, illegal control of an enterprise and other charges. In March, he pleaded guilty to nine counts. Sanchez expressed his remorse to the court and asked for leniency, but the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Theodore Campagnolo, said, “The defendant’s acts were intentional, they were ongoing and they were unforgivable.”Judge Michael Wilkinson imposed the aggravated sentence on two of the counts, 12 1/2 years each, to be served concurrently. He also sentenced Sanchez to probation on several of the counts, but because they will be served concurrently, Sanchez will serve a total of seven years’ probation. “This crime has caused lasting serious emotional and financial harm to the victims,” Wilkinson said. “They had such a trust in you, such a belief in you.”Wilkinson scolded Sanchez for posing as a man of faith.”All that was stripped away,” he said.