Fr. C. John McCloskey III (1954-2023): A Role Model for Bishops

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*Image: The Murder of St. Thomas à Becket by an unknown carver of alabaster, c. 1450-1500 [British Museum, London]

By Fr. C. John McCloskey III (1954-2023), The Catholic Thing, March 5, 2023

Fr. C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.

Note: Fr. “C. J.” McCloskey, an Opus Dei priest, an early collaborator with this site, and a dear friend to many of us, died on February 23 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was a legend – even gaining a complimentary profile in the New York Times just a few years ago (here) – for his “magnetic touch” in the conversion of well-known figures such as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Sen. Sam Brownback, Judge Robert Bork, and many others. One of his cultural programs on EWTN introduced Melissa Villalobos to John Henry Newman; the Vatican declared her healing after praying to Newman during a troubled pregnancy one of the miracles leading to his canonization. We reproduce here a column he wrote for The Catholic Thing, as relevant today as when it first appeared in 2016. Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine. – Robert Royal


I have written here on St. Thomas More as a role model for laypeople in the Catholic Church. The bishops, too, need a role model, however, particularly in these times. They are after all responsible for helping their flocks grow in holiness and for clearly teaching the laity the truths of the Catholic faith.

They bear responsibility for what is taught in the Catholic schools in their dioceses and – critically – in the diocesan seminary. They also oversee the work of the priests in the diocese, and if necessary, have the duty of disciplining them.

Even if a member of the laity never personally hears the bishop speak, he or she should experience the effects of the bishop’s guidance and supervision of the priests in the diocese, and his careful response to egregious examples of false preaching, poor example, moral laxity, error in expounding Catholic theology, or a dangerous and destructive permissiveness in tolerating within the members of God’s Mystical Body unwholesome lifestyles and scandalous behavior. …