SNAP Letter to Archbishop Carlson

Dear Archbishop Carlson:

As you know, next month you’ll reach the mandatory retirement age for bishops. Unless you do something remarkable in the coming weeks, your legacy and obituary will likely cause you, your loved ones and your flock considerable shame, because it will prominently feature the stunningly embarrassing video deposition in which, according to NBC News, you

  • claimed you “didn’t know in the 1980s whether it was illegal for priests to have sex with children,” and
  • “responded 193 times that (you) did not recall abuse-related conversations from the 1980s to mid-1990s.”

But this dismal performance need not define your clerical career. You can change this quickly and easily. You can act heroically and voluntarily disclose the names, whereabouts, photos and work histories of the 115 church staff who – by your attorneys’ own admission - are accused of sexually assaulting kids.

You’ve kept their identities secret for more than five years. But you can reverse course.

With such a move, you would become a hero to thousands of abuse victims and their families, and to millions of hurting, betrayed Catholics who long to see a church official truly ‘come clean,’ protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded by revealing the identities of those who have or could hurt children.

With this single, simple step, you would likely go down in history as the prelate who, in one fell voluntary swoop, did more to safeguard the vulnerable than any.

On the other hand, you could play it safe, avoid ‘rocking the boat,’ keep these names secret, and do nothing while more children are likely abused and more Catholics are disgruntled or alienated and while our group continues to ‘out’ more and more of them.

In September, for instance, we “outed” nine publicly accused predator priests who spent time in the St. Louis area.

In November, we outed eight more.

In December, the Jesuits outed 17 more.

In February, we outed five more.

In March, we outed another eight.

And now, in May, we’re outing another eight.

Maybe you don’t care about your legacy or reputation or obituary. If so, we applaud you. There are, of course, far better reasons to disclose these accused predators’ names.

The first is the safety of kids. Not all of these individuals are deceased or incarcerated for life. So some of them no doubt now live and work among unsuspecting families, neighbors and co-workers.

You and your colleagues have deemed these clerics too dangerous to work in your churches. Surely the public deserves – and needs – to know who and where they are (especially since church officials recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained, transferred and shielded these predators). So please, Archbishop, disclose their names, photos, whereabouts and work histories.

If you can’t bring yourself to do this, then we plead with you to at least release the names of the living accused church staff. Obviously, if they’re guilty of abuse, they may abuse again.

If you can’t bring yourself to do this, then we beg you to at least disclose the 12 priests we’ve deemed the “dangerous dozen” – the clerics and ex-clerics we most worry about possibly assaulting others.

Please don’t duck and dodge, Archbishop. Your legacy and reputation and obituary won’t be the least bit better if you respond to us or others, via your paid mouthpiece, with excuses like “we’re working on disclosure” or “we’re waiting for the Attorney General’s probe” or “our lawyers haven't completed their review of our records.”

Over your tenure in St. Louis, you’ve ignored us and virtually every request we’ve ever made of you. We deeply hope this time, you’ll react differently, with real courage and compassion, and do what’s best for you, your flock, already wounded victims and still vulnerable families.


David Clohessy, Missouri Director, 314 566 9790, [email protected]

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Director, 636 433 2511, [email protected]

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant