SNAP blasts Archbishop Carlson
Week after week, month after month, new child sex abuse allegations surface against current and former St. Louis priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and other Catholic officials. Some are diocesan, some belong to religious orders.
But who signs their paychecks doesn’t really matter. What matters is that some of these predators are still alive and often live and work here in St. Louis (and elsewhere) among unsuspecting families, neighbors and colleagues. What matters is that each revelation brings added pain to Catholic parishioners in St. Louis. And what matters is that some or most of their victims live here in St. Louis.
Recently, victims from Chaminade, a St. Louis Catholic school, have found the courage and strength to speak up. In just three weeks, Catholic officials here admit that they’ve heard from 15 victims of Brother Louis Meinhardt who taught and coached at Chaminade for 30 years.
So Catholic St. Louis moms and dads, with hard-earned money from their St. Louis jobs, send their Catholic sons and daughters to Catholic schools in St. Louis. When those children are raped, sodomized or sexually violated by Catholic clerics in these Catholic schools, St. Louis’ Catholic archbishop has a duty to help find and comfort these St. Louis victims and do something about these St. Louis Catholic predators and their St. Louis Catholic supervisors and co-workers.
So what has Archbishop Carlson done? As best we can tell, nothing. There’s been not even a tiny mention of Brother Meinhardt and the accusations in the Catholic newspaper.
Meinhardt belongs to a St. Louis-based Catholic religious order. Seven other local Marianists have been publicly named as credibly accused pedophiles – Fr. Charles H. Miller, Fr. William Christensen, Fr. Robert R. Osborne, Brother William Mueller, Fr. Daniel A. Triulzi, Brother John Woulfe, and Brother Tony Pistone. They’ve molested St. Louis kids at St. Louis schools like Vianney, Chaminade and St. Mary’s.
But St. Louis’ Catholic archbishop keeps quiet and does nothing.
Some bishops have shown courage with religious orders. Some bishops have kicked religious order priests out of their dioceses. Some bishops have kicked entire religious orders out of their dioceses. Some bishops have forbidden religious orders to bring in some speakers, writers or theologians, and denounced them when they did.
And some bishops have disciplined religious order child molesters in their dioceses.
In 2009, St. Louis Bishop Robert Herman (Carlson’s predecessor) ousted Fr. Robert Osborne - a Marianist – from a Kirkwood parish and forbid him to say mass anywhere in the archdiocese because of credible child sex abuse allegations.
That same year, a Wisconsin bishop ousted Fr. Henry Willenborg – a Franciscan - from a diocesan parish after he was accused of molesting an Illinois girl.
So bishops can, and do, take action against religious orders and religious order predators. We’re clearly not asking Archbishop Carlson to do something radical or unprecedented.
But Carlson washes his hands. He walks away. He ignores victims of religious order predators. He refuses to use his vast resources - hundreds of parish bulletins, hundreds of church/parish/school employees, his own archdiocesan newspaper and website – to reach out, like Jesus would, to adults who have been sexually violated in local Catholic schools run by religious orders.
Bishops have nearly limitless power in their dioceses. And with that power, almost everyone would agree, comes responsibility, especially the responsibility to protect the flock from harm.
But Carlson stays silent.
What kind of shepherd is he?