Thursday, July 28, 2005

Is Judge Roberts Opus Dei?

From Mark Crispin Miller's "News From Underground" blog:

Posted on Salon:

Is Roberts Opus Dei?
All indicators point to "yes" --

Roberts & wife left their DC parish to follow their pastor when he was re-assigned:


Msgr. Peter Vaghi, who has been pastor of St. Patrick Church downtown for nine years, has been appointed pastor of Church of the Little Flower, Bethesda. He will replace Msgr. William Kane, who is retiring.

Born in 1948, Msgr. Vaghi attended Gonzaga College High School here; Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass.; the University of Salzburg, Austria, where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar; the University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville; and the Gregorian University, Rome. Ordained in 1985, he was later appointed assistant pastor of St. Patrick's and became pastor there in 1995, the same year he was named a monsignor.

He has been active in numerous Catholic organizations such as the John Carroll Society of which he is chaplain and the Downtown Washington Serra Club. While a practicing attorney before ordination, he was an associate in the Washington firm of Sidley & Austin and legal consultant to Sen. Pete Domenici (R.-N.M.).

Read more.

Judge Bork, baptized at 76 It may be a little late to start for most, but Robert Bork, the former Supreme Court nominee who has written books decrying the decline of Western culture, has just been baptized. Rev. C. John McCloskey, who represents the conservative and activist Opus Dei arm of the Roman Catholic Church and oversaw the baptism, said, "I can confirm that he was received in the Catholic Church."

Bork, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was raised a Protestant and had called himself a "generic Protestant." He was known more for his conservative legal views, which some Democrats used to shoot down his court nomination during the Reagan administration.

In a brief interview, he said that years of "conversations and reading" led him to baptism at McCloskey's small Catholic Information Center chapel on K Street near the White House. "There's more to talk about than you can put in a brief story." He called himself a regular Catholic who attends Sunday mass, not an Opus Dei member.

He said talks with and recommendations from the priest, as well as attending church with his wife, Mary Ellen Bork, a former nun, helped pave the way to the ceremony.

Bork's sponsors were Kate O'Beirne, a conservative media star, and John O'Sullivan, head of UPI.

Lots of other prominent Catholics were there, such as columnist and speechwriter Peggy Noonan, herself a convert.

McCloskey has made several other high-level conversions of conservatives, bringing into the Catholic Church conservative columnist Robert Novak and Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

The best part of getting baptized at 76, said Bork: "If you get baptized at my age, all of your sins are forgiven. And that's very helpful."

According to Archdiocese of Washington Communications Director Susan Gibbs, Msgr. William Awalt, the longtime pastor of the Borks, baptized the judge, confirmed him and gave him First Communion. Father McCloskey celebrated the Mass, along with Msgr. Peter Vaghi, pastor of St. Patrick's.

Fr. McCloskey is the priest who has converted so many Washingtonians, including Justice Scalia, to Opus Dei-style Catholicism. The Federalist Society is crawling with them.

I am getting seriously creeped out by this. Where are all the people who were so afraid to vote for Kennedy because the Pope might tell him what to do?


Blogger RDR said...

Nice bit of research and archiving.

" consultant to Sen. Pete Domenici (R.-N.M.)." LOL

2:41 AM  
Blogger Tlachtga said...

This may seem like nit-picking, but it isn't. Usually, you aren't baptised when you join the Catholic Church, unless you've never been baptized before. So, if you were baptized as a Lutherin, Presbyterian, etc., you aren't re-baptized a Catholic; you merely go through the other three primary sacraments (Reconciliation, Communion, and Confirmation).

So is the Opus Dei crowd doing something different? I'd love to find out. "Better Catholics than the Catholics"?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Professor Pan said...

You're right -- that's a very important detail. I have a friend who is a former Jesuit, and he may be able to provide some insight.

Thanks for that tip, Tlachtga.

4:47 PM  
Blogger JAE said...

Check out

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really important that we try to figure out whether John Roberts was active with the Opus Dei Center on the Harvard Camups during the time that he was there...Are there any former Opus Dei members or folks who knew Roberts in College or Law school willing to say whether he was involved with Elmbrook University Center while he was there?

10:54 AM  
Blogger Professor Pan said...

Thanks for the and supremecourtandopusdei links, folks. Let's keep this story percolating!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roberts was at Harvard between 1973 and 1979. Opus Dei recruits heavily at Harvard.

This article from 2003 says Harvard has been producing Opus Dei leadership for decades.

(See, Elizabeth Green, “Opening the Doors of Opus Dei,” The Harvard Crimson, April 10, 2003. Part 1 and 2 are available at and respectively(last visited August 16, 2005)

In this article about Opus Dei recruitment at Harvard, Ms. Green also notes “These students are following in a venerable tradition. Harvard has been producing a steady stream of leaders in Opus Dei for nearly half a century. Over the past 40 years, at least three of those holding the highest position of authority within Opus Dei’s U.S. branch were Harvard graduates.”)

• The Harvard Opus Dei center is Elmbrook University Center.

Was anyone involved with or aware of the activities of Elmbrook University Center during the years that Roberts was at Harvard?

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evidently, Peter Vaghi's preaching is very conservative, similar to opus dei philosophy and some of his themes are very similar to opus dei themes. Check out the excerpts from his sermons posted on

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Jacqueline said...

I checked out that blog mentioned in the previous comment,

and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Weird connections...Apparently Jane Sullivan Roberts, Roberts' wife, has an interesting background too!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he does belong to Opus Dei, would that disqualify him?

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding tlachtga's comments:

I have heard of Opus Dei re-baptising converts (in violation of the doctrine of the Catholic church). They got in trouble for it in Dallas around 20 years ago. Of course, they are also now considered a valid devotional choice rather than a dangerous cult that is disruptive of the devotional life of lay catholics and diocessan jurisdiction. When they were legitimized as an organization, they may have had the practice of re-baptizing grandfathered in as well, but I doubt it.

Of course, that doesn't mean they discontinued the practice. It is also possible that the verb was used inaccurately in the article.

4:25 PM  

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