Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Addendum to McCloskey Story: Opus Dei Priest Speaks Out: "He Was Around for a Year After We Were Informed. … It's Not Good. But We May As Well Own It"

More is coming out now about the McCloskey story. A few minutes ago, Michelle Boorstein tweeted out a link to a new Washington Post article entitled "In emotional interview, Opus Dei spokesman said he 'hated' how prominent priest’s sexual misconduct case was handled." Here are some pertinent passages in this article — which I encourage you to read in light of my previous posting about the McCloskey revelations earlier today:

A day after announcing that the global Catholic community Opus Dei had paid nearly $1 million to settle a 2005 sexual misconduct suit against a big-name D.C. priest, a spokesman for the ultraconservative institution Tuesday expressed regret that the Rev. C. John McCloskey had been allowed to remain in ministry after the allegations came to light. 
"It's an argument that is no longer tenable — this 'Let's quiet things over so priests can continue to do good,' " said Brian Finnerty, choking back tears as he spoke with unusual frankness.


Finnerty said among his regrets was that the complaint came to Opus Dei in November 2002 but the community did not remove McCloskey from the Catholic Information Center until December 2003. He said he personally "hated" that decision. "The reality is he was around for a year after we were informed," Finnerty said. "That's the reality. It's not good. But we may as well own it."


The news has distressed many Washington-area Catholics who said Opus Dei erred greatly in allowing McCloskey to continue for more than a decade to operate as a priest and guide. 

The article also states,

The woman who reached the settlement with Opus Dei in 2005 told The Washington Post she began seeing McCloskey for spiritual direction at a time when her marriage was crumbling and she was experiencing serious depression. The priest groped her several times during tight hugs, she said. She said she expressed shame and guilt about it to him during confession and he absolved her. (The Post does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.) 
McCloskey also asked the woman detailed questions about her sex life with her husband, she said. 
An Opus Dei priest in Virginia whom she went to told her not to tell anyone, she said. Another Opus Dei priest urged her to seek medical and legal help. 
Finnerty said Monday that Opus Dei knows of another woman who was made uncomfortable by McCloskey’s hugs and is investigating the possibility of a third woman who may have a "serious" complaint about the priest. The group has not spoken with the third woman.

Those details catch my attention after I read this 2012 report about Opus Dei by Father James Martin that Dan Cosacchi tweeted out earlier today. In his report, Father Martin cites the testimony of two priests who studied at Princeton in the mid-1980s and came into contact with Opus Dei during that period. The priests asked that their names be kept anonymous. 

Father John McCloskey assisted with the duties of the Catholic chaplaincy office at Princeton in this period. The two priests report the following regarding McCloskey's pastoral ministry at Princeton: 

Later, Father McCloskey began interviewing all entering Catholic freshmen, over the objections of some of the staff. It was at this time that the problems began. According to both sources, Father McCloskey asked questions about students' sexual practices, among other things, and about their parents' religious activities. 
In addition: "Some of the students claimed he coerced them into having the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession, as he called it. He would say, 'You really need to go to confession. The chapel's right around the corner and I'm available now.' Now I can't cite you a line in canon law, but one is never coerced into a sacrament. I found it outrageous, and a lot of other people did, too.

Note two overlapping and disturbing details in Father Martin's report in 2012 and what the woman sexually assaulted by Father McCloskey has reported: the seemingly invasive interest in the details of the sexual lives of those to whom he has ministered; and the use of the sacrament of confession in a coercive way — it seems, in the case of the woman reporting abuse by Father McCloskey in D.C., to control and silence her. There are at least suggestions of this in her reports as captured in the Washington Post article about this story yesterday.

Then there's Charles Pierce's testimony today, entitled "This Is How Cults Work, Not Religions":

Back in 2003, when I was writing for The Boston Globe Magazine, I wrote a cover story about how the conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church were organizing themselves in the lengthening shadow of the crisis springing from the revelations of sexual crimes committed by members of the Church's clergy. There was a conscious effort to prevent more liberal elements among American Catholics from using the exploding scandal to change the institutional Church from within in ways that the conservatives found contrary to what they believed to be unchanging Church doctrine. Central to the story was an Opus Dei priest in Washington named John McCloskey, whose office literally was on K Street. It was McCloskey who baptized Beltway power brokers like Newt Gingrich, the late Bob Novak, current White House budget director Larry Kudlow, and former Kansas senator and governor Sam Brownback. McCloskey, whose first career was as a trader with Merrill Lynch, had some ideas that were…interesting.

Pierce cites a section of  his 2003 report: 

He [McCloskey] is talking about a futuristic essay he wrote that rosily describes the aftermath of a "relatively bloodless" civil war that resulted in a Catholic Church purified of all dissent and the religious dismemberment of the United States of America. "There's two questions there," says the Rev. C. John McCloskey 3d, smiling. He's something of a ringer for Howard Dean—a comparison he resists, also with a smile—a little more slender than the presidential candidate, perhaps, but no less fervent. "One is, Do I think it would be better that way? No. Do I think it's possible? Do I think it's possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it's OK to kill women and children or for—quote—homosexual couples to exist and be recognized? "No, I don't think that's possible," he says. "I don't know how it's going to work itself out, but I know it's not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way. If American Catholics feel that's troubling, let them. I don't feel it's troubling at all." 

Do I think it's possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it's OK to kill women and children or for—quote—homosexual couples to exist and be recognized? "No, I don't think that's possible," he says. And then he goes on to entertain the possibility of violence as a way of resolving the disputes in contemporary culture about these matters of the sanctity of marriage and the impermissibility of "homosexual" marital relationships….

Saying this in 2003. The year following — we now know — the report of the woman whom he had sexually abused to Opus Dei…. The woman who came to him for counseling about her marital difficulites….

In 2003, the year in which Opus Dei removed him from his D.C. position because Opus Dei knew that the 2002 report was credible…. 

The photo of John McCloskey is a screenshot from a video uploaded by Anthony Buono to YouTube.

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