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Opus Dei's priest in an important settlement was never officially confined to the ministry, says the Archdiocese of Chicago


When a woman who claimed she was being touched by the priest turned to counseling for a $ 977,000 arrangement with the Opus Dei Catholic community in 2005, she was promised that the priest she claimed was bothering her – the Reverend C. John McCloskey, a star in the Catholic world that converted prominent politicians to faith, would be prevented from doing it to anyone else. On Wednesday night, two days after Opus Dei publicly acknowledged the massive settlement, Chicago's archdiocese said that at least McCloskey could preach for years without restrictions. The archbishopric questioned part of the Opus Dei account this week about how the conservative Catholic community dealt with McCloskey, and provided a 2005 letter from an Opus Dei leader showing that the leader stood for McCloskey, even though he was aware of the settlement. What emerges from conflicting reports is a picture of Catholic leadership in both the archdiocese and Opus Dei, who told the woman they would limit McCloskey's actions – and then left a paper trail that described him as an impeccable report . [‘Deeply painful’: Opus Dei settled misconduct claim involving prominent priest to conservative politicians] The woman reported the complaint in November 2002 and Opus Dei removed McCloskey from the Catholic Information Center – the K Street NW hub of conservative Catholic life – in December 2003, a delay that Opus Dei spokesman Brian Finnerty said this week that he "hated". "In 2005, the community reached the almost $ 1 million settlement with the woman. (The Washington Post does not identify victims of assault without their consent.) That year, McCloskey went to work in the archdiocese of Chicago, and that's where the different accounts begin. The woman says that the leaders of Opus Dei have told her to ask McCloskey's permission to practice there, Opus Dei priests everywhere in the country remain under the auspices of Opus Dei, not of the dioceses what they work in, but they do need a permission letter from the local diocese to fulfill certain priestly duties. "The woman says she was told that Cardinal Francis George, then the archbishop of Chicago, was aware of her case and said that he would approve the transfer only if he addressed the woman, so she spoke to the cardinal. "I was blunt and explicit," she said Wednesday, getting what she thought a clear answer. She said that George had told her that McCloskey could not serve unlimited in any way. "I said," I do not want him to do this again. "He made a promise to me." [In an emotional interview, Opus Dei spokesman said he ‘hated’ how sexual abuse case was handled] Rev. Peter Armenio, assistant regional head of Opus Dei for the Midwest, told The Post on Tuesday that George agreed to limit McCloskey for a year of direct ministry with women; Opus Dei made sure he followed the restriction for two years, he said. Finnerty said on Wednesday night that it has Opus Dei records of McCloskey's assignments in Chicago that show that they were designed to maintain those limitations, but he would not provide those records right away. In George's own files, the archdiocese said Wednesday, he made no note of the call with the woman. Nowhere in any of its files can the archdiocese find any indication of any limitations, of the previous arrangement or of any other allegation of sexual misconduct involving McCloskey. A spokesperson for the archdiocese said that the archdiocese does not challenge the woman's account – that the call was made and that George promised to limit McCloskey's ministry – which led to the conclusion that George did or did not want to limit McCloskey he did this without creating a written record. The case reflects the fiercely charged accusations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò against Pope Francis this summer: he claimed, without documentation, that the former Pope, Benedict, had imposed similar secret sanctions on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who had by now been disgraced, and that Francis imposed these sanctions. let go along the side. [Former Vatican ambassador says Popes Benedict and Francis knew about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct for years] George died in 2015. His obituaries praised him for his role in instigating the Catholic Church to drive out priests who are guilty of sexual abuse of children. In 2009, the Archdiocese of Chicago McCloskey's faculties – renewed the term for his permission to practice as a priest, including celebrating Mass. His permission did not end until he left the archdiocese for California in 2013, according to the archdiocese. One written record that the archdiocese does have? A letter from the then vicar for Opus Dei in the Midwest: Armenio. In the 2005 letter released by the archdiocese on Wednesday, Armenio McCloskey advised faculties in Chicago, saying he was a "good reputation" of a priest, "with a good character and reputation." He made two specific claims in the letter in which the priest was confirmed: "I have no idea that Fr. Charles John McCloskey has a current, untreated alcohol or drug abuse problem" and "I am not aware of anything in his background that makes him unfit would be working with underage children. "But in a short interview on Tuesday night, Armenio said he knew in 2005 that there was an accusation of sexual misconduct towards McCloskey and that he had a serious problem with alcohol & # 39; 39; had. He said that he had personally told George about both matters. Armenio did not call a post-reporter on Wednesday evening about the discrepancy between what he said to George and what he wrote in his letter at the time. Finnerty, Opus Dei's spokesperson, tried to explain the behavior of Armenio on Wednesday. & # 39; Father Peter's intention was that we would rather talk to Cardinal George personally. It was also some time since the sad events of "abuse in 2002," said Finnerty. "We thought Father McCloskey would be able to exercise his ministry as a priest. … I think the point to remember is that Cardinal George was fully aware of what was happening. "Instead of condemning George for keeping the history of McCloskey a secret, Finnerty praised him." He is truly a hero in all of this. He treated [the victim] very well. "When Opus Dei announced the settlement Monday, Finnerty said that another woman had once told that McCloskey made her uncomfortable in the way he embraced her, and Opus Dei was investigating a third claim that might be" seriously "was." Finnerty and the archdiocese of Chicago stated that no one has ever said that McCloskey had abused while he was practicing in Chicago. Social media messages and articles in Catholic media show that McCloskey still celebrated mass until very recent years and advertised himself as a spiritual advisor. Now, at the age of 65, McCloskey suffers from "advanced Alzheimer's", according to Opus Dei. He is "largely incapacitated for work and needs help with daily routine tasks", the organization said.

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