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EDITORIAL: 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.

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?

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests