(AFP) – Bishop Javier Echevarria, leader of the controversial Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei, has died after treatment in hospital for a lung infection, according to an official statement posted on Twitter.
Echevarria, who was 84, died in Rome on Monday, it said, noting that he had been receiving antibiotics to tackle the infection but it had worsened, resulting in fatal breathing problems.
He was born in Madrid and became the third person to lead Opus Dei when in 1994 he succeeded Alvaro Del Portillo — who had taken over from the movement’s founder, Josemaria Escriva.
Present in many European countries but also in Latin America, Opus Dei is widely considered a secretive institution with politicians and members of the financial world said to be among its members. It has often aroused interest over its supposed influence.
The current Vatican spokesman Greg Burke is a member of Opus Dei.