The Skeptical Flock
June 25, 2003
St. Louis Post Dispatch
BEFORE GOING HOME Sunday, many of the prelates who attended
the National Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting here expressed
frustration that the public had doubts about how serious they
are about cleaning up problems of sexual abuse by priests.
It's too bad the bishops couldn't have stayed around St.
Louis a day longer. They might have understood the public
skepticism a lot better.
On Monday, St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge John Ross
refused to dismiss a pair of lawsuits that exemplify the egregious
legal tactics that the church is using to protect its priests.
Judge Ross ruled that a lawsuit brought by a priest against
his accuser could go forward, as well the countersuit brought
by the accuser.
At issue is a claim by Arthur P. Andreas, 29, that he was
sexually molested on multiple occasions in the late 1980s,
when he was a student at St. Joseph's Home for Boys. In March
2002, after St. Louis Archbishop Justin Rigali invited anyone
who had been hurt by a priest to come forward, Mr. Andreas
reported to church officials that he had been molested by
the Rev. Alexander R. Anderson, who had been the chaplain
at St. Joseph's.
Upon learning of the accusation, Father Anderson stood in
the pulpit of the new $4 million church that he built as pastor
of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka to announce that he
had been accused, and to deny the allegations. With the support
of Archbishop Rigali, he then filed a slander suit against
Mr. Andreas then countersued both Father Anderson and the
Archdiocese of St. Louis, saying - reasonably enough - that
he'd been sandbagged. He had responded to Archbishop Rigali's
pastoral invitation, only to be sued for his trouble.
And the nation's bishops wonder why people are skeptical?