Prominent Opus Dei Priest Faces Multiple Allegations of Abuse
For immediate release: January 8, 2019
The case of Fr. C. John McCloskey is a perfect example of how a person in a position of power can use that power to manipulate and abuse a person during a vulnerable moment in their lives. It can sometimes be difficult for others to empathize with adults who have been abused, but most adult victims go to clergy for help because they are already struggling. However, this challenge of empathy is irrelevant to the facts: a woman was abused and we are now learning that she was not the only one who may have been hurt by Fr. McCloskey.
Fr. McCloskey was allowed to continue ministering to women in the D.C. area for at least a year after the complaint against him were made. During this time, Opus Dei was “investigating” the “credibility” of the claim, something that should be first reported to law enforcement. Church officials have shown, time and time again, that their definition of “credible” is nebulous and unevenly applied.
In cases of abuse, there are three pathways for justice and prevention: criminal, civil, and occupational. While the first two are, ostensibly at least, available to survivors, the third pathway is one that can only be taken by officials and superiors within that occupation. For example, if a physician were to abuse an adult patient, the complaint would be turned over to police and the abuser would likely lose his license to practice from the AMA. If a professor were to abuse an adult student, the complaint would be turned over to police and that professor would likely lose their tenure with their university.
We believe the same should be true of priests like Fr. McCloskey. We also think that it should not take a year for a decision to be made, nor for fifteen years to pass before that decision is made public. We hope that others who may have been hurt by Fr. McCloskey will be heartened by this news and encouraged to make a report of what they experienced to police and prosecutors.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)