Archbishop Robert Carlson: Old Files Shed Light on Long History of Handling Sex Abuse Scandals

See also: Fr. Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang: Archbishop Robert Carlson Subpoenaed in Priest Sex Abuse Case

In the Jiang case in St. Louis -- in which Carlson is soon to be deposed -- the archbishop is accused of attempting to take back money that the priest had given to the family in an effort to keep the parents quiet. This move, the family says in its lawsuit, is clearly a move to tamper with incriminating evidence. The Archdiocese, in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, says that Carlson vehemently denies this allegation.

via Nheyob
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Given that Carlson has experience on the ground dealing with these kinds of cases, he should have known better in the St. Louis case, Clohessy argues.

"Literally thirty years ago, he was dealing, as these letters suggest, in a fairly hands-on, detailed way with one of the very first publicly exposed predator priests," he says. "It points out just how long he has been concealing these crimes and how knowledgeable he is about the details of the statute of limitations."

It is rare that victims do sue and bring to light these kinds of internal documents in this manner, Clohessy notes, adding that it's shocking to see how problematic the church's approach was decades ago. "You should've seen almost nothing but concern for the victim and yet even 30 years ago, you'll see in these documents that the focus is always what do we do about the father?"

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis sends Daily RFT this lengthy rebuttal from SNAP, which we've printed here in full:

In the last two decades Archbishop Robert J. Carlson has become a voice for transparency in clergy sex abuse cases. The experiences he had with reporting clergy misconduct to church leadership in the Archdiocese of St. Paul - Minneapolis in the early 1980's have influenced the way he handles these cases today as an archbishop. By the time clergy sex abuse unfolded on a national scale in 2002, then Bishop Carlson led the way in South Dakota where he worked with the state's attorney and offered to open up the church's files. Bishop Carlson also required local, state, and national background checks for priests who came in from other dioceses along with other diocesan workers.

Fr. Kevin McDonough, Director of Safe Environment for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, previously stated, "As frequently as possible in public forums, I credit Archbishop Carlson for taking steps in the 1980's to break the culture of clerical secrecy in our Archdiocese. The work of Bishop Carlson as early as the first half of the 1980's in St. Paul-Minneapolis is still a model of responsible citizenship of honest, open cooperation with public officials and especially concern for the safety of children thirty years later."

In June of 2002 the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) established the Dallas Charter, a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the requirements of the Dallas Charter are fulfilled by our Safe Environment Office and the Office of Child and Youth Protection. Since 2002, one-hundred thousand people have completed this program. Any adult who is employed by or volunteers in our parishes and institutions who works with minors is required to complete the "Protecting God's Children" program, which teaches how to recognize questionable behavior, to implement practices for the safety of children, and to take necessary steps to address even the suspicion that a cleric or Church worker has done something inappropriate.

Today, under Archbishop Carlson's leadership, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has cooperated fully with law enforcement and prosecutors involved in any abuse matters that have risen locally. The Archdiocese of St. Louis maintains a Child Safety Committee and an Archdiocesan Review Board in addition to the measures mentioned above. This Committee and Board include lay professionals from the community who review the child safety policies of the Archdiocese as well as each and every allegation of clergy sexual abuse. Any reports of abuse of a minor can be made to law enforcement officials, the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800.392.3738, or Deacon Phil Hengen, Director of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at 314.792.7704.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis did not respond to Daily RFT's request for comment.

Here are the full documents in question:

Bishop Carlson

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The sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still covering up sex crimes against kids, they are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they still are not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called "zero tolerance" policy is not being followed by all the bishops who created it. They don't have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids. There are many of these bishops who need to be held accountable. Until that happens nothing will change.

Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day, so silence is not an options anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511.,
"SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)


This article parallels a similar situation in the metro KC area, where the bishop failed to report a federal pornography case for over a year.  In both cases, the evidence is damning.  I could cite numerous other cases on a nationwide basis.  Unfortunately, leadership in this church has exhibited zero understanding let alone compassion, of the damage done to the victims they have created.   They set themselves up as the ultimate moral authority.  Truth and Justice are words not in their vocabularies.  What sorry excuses they are!


Very damning evidence for Carlson, that memo.  Not criminal, in the case of Carlson -- but unethical, and immoral.  The pink beanie of irony sits heavily on his head these days.  


Over and over again, Carlson and his PR team trot out lists of "what we're doing right now" about abuse. Two quick points.

1) That's an obvious way to dodge what's in these records - clear proof that Carlson's first concern was protecting the predator priest and the reputations of his fellow high-ranking Catholic officials (Carlson wrote, in these documents, "given the seriousness of our exposure, that theArchdiocese posture itself in such a way that any publicity will be minimized.")

2) Everything Carlson's doing right now he has to do. He has no choice. The programs and policies and procedures are mandated by the US bishops' national abuse policy. So it's like my bragging because I put money in parking meters and pay my income tax and stop at red lights.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,

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