Like any prelature, the government of Opus Dei is the responsibility of its prelate and his vicars, who are assisted by councils made up of other faithful, many of them lay persons, both men and women. The lay faithful also play a decisive role in the organizational tasks and in the formational activity of Opus Dei.
How do personal prelatures resemble and how do they differ from dioceses, religious orders and movements?
One should keep in mind that all ecclesial realities share in the life and purpose of the one Church. Therefore, all are called to live in the same ecclesial communion and to foster mutual affection.
Although similar personal hierarchical structures already existed (such as military vicariates), the juridical figure of the personal prelature is the result of an apostolic desire of the Second Vatican Council that later took form in the present Code of Canon Law. The first to be erected was the prelature of Opus Dei, in the Apostolic Constitution Ut sit of John Paul II, on November 28, 1982.
The only personal prelature currently existing is Opus Dei. The fact that others have not yet been erected is due to the newness of personal prelatures, which have to offer guarantees of ecclesial solidity and be harmoniously inserted into the dioceses in which they operate. Besides, there are other ecclesiastical circumscriptions, such as the military ordinariates, with the same type of configuration, that is to say, one that is both personal and that complements the dioceses.
Incorporation in the prelature of Opus Dei is essentially united to the personal vocation of that individual.
Both belong equally to the prelature.
The work and entire life of the members of Opus Dei, to the extent to which they are loyal to their vocation, constitutes a part of the spiritual and apostolic good of the diocese.
The prelate of Opus Dei and the prelature itself depend—as do all ecclesiastical circumscriptions—on the Holy See, that is, on the Roman Pontiff and the organ that assists him in what refers to dioceses and prelatures, the Congregation for Bishops.
What is the mission of the prelature of Opus Dei? What is special about this mission that is not found in other Church entities?
The mission of the prelature of Opus Dei is the same salvific mission as that of the whole Church, carried out in conformity with a specific charism of sanctification and apostolate in professional work and in the context of ordinary life.