For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 30, 2013
Twice recently, St. Louis Catholic officials have violated a local judge’s order. Archbishop Robert Carlson is choosing to keep information about years of horrific clergy child sex crimes and church cover ups hidden, like he and his predecessors have done for decades.
They are refusing to obey this judge’s ruling even though he gave them more than six months to comply and even though there’s a protective order that would prevent anyone but two attorneys from seeing the information.
Today’s Post-Dispatch story is long but here’s the key phrase: “The archdiocese is fighting . . . to keep accused priests’ names secret.” That strategy – keeping accused priests’ names secret - has long been the goal of virtually every Catholic official. And despite years of promises of reform, it still is.
Earlier this month in Minnesota, a judge forced two Catholic bishops to make names of predator priests public. But here in St. Louis, a judge apparently can’t even force one Catholic bishop to turn over such names in private (with a protective order, so no one can see who they are).
And, in an Orwellian twist, Carlson claims he is now suddenly concerned that obeying the judge might somehow hurt abuse victims. That is a clever - but patently false – claim. It’s one that he had six months to make but neglected to make until the judge’s deadline was upon him.
Carlson and his cronies are afraid for themselves, their reputations and their power, not for victims’ privacy. It’s preposterous for Carlson to claim that if one veteran clergy sex abuse attorney – who has helped hundreds of victims – were to be given, under seal, pedophile priest records that contained names of victims, he would somehow hurt those same victims.
Finally, it’s deceitful and self-serving for Carlson to claim, through one of his PR staff, that “All of the information sought is from a timeframe years before (Carlson) was installed as archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Archdiocese, under Archbishop Carlson, takes allegations of abuse extremely seriously.”
Carlson’s clearly implying that he somehow differs from his predecessors. He does not. In this case, involving Fr. Joseph D. Ross, Carlson is “fighting to keep names of accused priests secret,” just like his predecessors. And in another recent case, involving Fr. Joseph Jiang, Carlson is accused of trying to tamper with evidence (by trying to get from a victim’s family a $20,000 check that Fr. Jiang gave them).
And just like May, Rigali, and Burke, Carlson imports dozens of dangerous clerics to the St. Louis archdiocese, letting them secretly live at church facilities with little or no warning to parishioners or the public.
When it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups, Carlson is different from his predecessors in only one respect – he’s even more determined and shrewd about keeping secrets secret.
We hope that Carlson’s clumsy and selfish posturing - throwing his predecessors and their advisors under the bus - will backfire. We hope it will prompt even one current or former Catholic official to become a whistleblower and voluntarily step forward with information about this on-going crisis that might spare even one child the devastation of child sexual abuse at the hands of a religious figure.
We are deeply grateful to the young woman who was so severely hurt by Fr. Ross and yet who has the courage and wisdom to seek justice and expose wrongdoers. In this horrible saga, her strength and bravery and persistence are the one bright sliver of hope.
We urge Judge Dierker to sanction Carlson for disobeying his order. We also urge him to realize that secrecy, not disclosure, is most harmful and dangerous, to both adults who have been hurt and kids who might be hurt.