As you may have read and heard, Archbishop Carlson received some less than stellar press in our local media outlets. Let me present at least something of the ‘other side of the story.’ From the Archdiocesan Communications Office:
“This statement is intended to clear up confusion generated by the release on June 9, 2014, of a videotaped deposition of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis. This deposition was taken in a lawsuit for damages pending in a Minnesota state court relating to events that occurred more than 30 years ago in Minnesota. Neither Archbishop Carlson nor the Archdiocese of St. Louis is a party to this case.
During a press conference held on June 9, 2014, Plain-tiff’s lawyer strategically took Archbishop Carlson’s response to a question out of context and suggested that the Archbishop did not know that it was a criminal offense for an adult to molest a child. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to what is being reported, Archbishop Carlson is and has been a leader in the Church when it comes to recognizing and managing matters of sexual abuse involving the clergy. As far back as 1980, then-Father Carlson wrote “This behavior cannot be tolerated” in a memo referencing a priest’s abusive actions (Exhibit 301 of this case).”
If I may be so bold as to reiterate a framework for understanding the Archbishop’s responses: If someone was asking me about three depositions that I gave 27 years ago, expecting me to remember exactly what I said under penalty of perjury, without my opportunity to have reviewed those files, I am pretty sure I would also state: “I don’t remember” as often as they asked specific questions about the content of that deposition.
Archbishop Carlson’s lawyer said it this way: “Plaintiff’s counsel questions the Archbishop, who had repeatedly requested and was denied the ability to review case documents pertaining to the questions asked of him, and who, 27 years after last being deposed, is now being maligned for his inability to recall certain events.”
I write this on Wednesday morning, so I am not sure how much of the original reporting will have been addressed and ‘corrected’ by your reading of this column. Please go to the Archdiocesan Website: http://archstl.org for a more comprehensive understanding of the deposition as well as the context from which the comments came.
In the mean time, we do what we always do whenever the press reports on instances of abuse, no matter who the perpetrator is. We continue to pray for victims of sexual abuse, everywhere and in every age. Pray for an ending to this scourge, a healing of the lives affected and for God’s love to be showered down upon us all.