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

Geerlingguy photo via
Archbishop Robert Carlson.
In July, a local family filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Louis, alleging that Archbishop Robert Carlson attempted to cover up a priest's sex abuse and tamper with evidence in the process. This suit, surrounding Father Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang, was filed after Carlson was subpoenaed in the criminal investigation of Jiang (who is accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage girl in her home). As the case moves forward this month, victims' rights groups are arguing that Carlson's inadequate response reflects a long history of mishandling abuse allegations.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an advocacy group based in St. Louis, has provided Daily RFT with newly released documents from 1984 relating to a case at the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, involving then bishop Carlson. The letters, the group argues, shed light on his decades of direct experience with these kinds of cases and repeated efforts to downplay abuse.

"It's the antithesis of what a caring shepherd should do," says David Clohessy, SNAP executive director.

More »

Thomas Donovan, Priest Who Called 911 Tied Up, Gagging in Bondage Mask, Back to Ministry

News coverage of Thomas Donovan's 911 call.
The "bondage priest" is back.

Father Thomas Donovan was the man behind the 911 call heard round the world in which he told a dispatcher that he was in the rectory and needed help getting out of handcuffs. Why was he stuck? He said he was "playing with them" and needed to be rescued before it became an emergency. When cops arrived on that November day, they allegedly found him -- alone -- in some sort of leather bondage mask and an orange jumpsuit.

He was soon after granted a leave of absence and now, many months later, church officials say he is returning to the ministry -- headed in our direction to Alton. The Diocese of Springfield says it will be a "gradual" process.

More »

St. Louis Archdiocese Reiterates Gays Welcome in Church, "Homosexual Activity Is Forbidden"

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson.
Earlier this morning, we posted our interview with Father Gary Meier, an openly gay St. Louis priest, who had some thoughts to share about Pope Francis's surprising remarks that he wouldn't judge gay priests (saying, "You can't marginalize these people").

Meier says the comments are a "breath of fresh air" and a nice change in tone from the "outright anti-gay, hostile statements" the church usually delivers.

Now, Daily RFT has another relevant local reaction to Pope Francis, this one from the Archdiocese of St. Louis -- which has a slightly different take than Meier.

More »

Gary Meier, Openly Gay St. Louis Priest, Reacts to Pope Francis' Remarks on Homosexuality

via KSDK
Father Gary Meier
When Daily RFT reached Father Gary Meier yesterday afternoon he was waiting for a car service to pick him up and take him to a television studio for a satellite interview with CNN.

"I don't like the cars," he grumbled, saying he prefers to drive himself.

Meier has been inundated with interview requests ever since Pope Francis gave a surprising response to reporters who asked him, essentially, what his views are on homosexual priests.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" the Holy Father answered in Italian.

As one of only a handful of priests to come out as openly gay, Meier has become a kind of de facto spokesman for the gay clergy, and news outlets from around the country (including this one) have been eager to hear his thoughts.

More »

St. Louis Cardinals Host First-Ever Jewish Community Night at Busch Stadium

via Facebook
The St. Louis Cardinals are no longer etching Christian symbols into the pitcher's mound at Busch Stadium, but they are still celebrating religion. And next up is Judaism!

For the first time ever, the Cardinals this summer will be hosting a Jewish Community Theme Night, the team announced last week.

"This year, we have ramped up our special events," Martin Coco, director of ticket sales and marketing for the Cardinals, tells Daily RFT. "What we're basically trying to do is reach target audiences."

More »

Father Gary Meier, St. Louis Catholic Priest, Announces He is Gay

Father Gary M. Meier
In 2011, a slender book came out called Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest. The author was "Anonymous."

"This book is for all of those who are being or have been driven away," reads the introduction. "And that's not just the gay population; it's all of those who have accepted a member of their family, all of those who have allied as friends. They too have been silenced and shamed, ostracized by a Church teaching and hierarchal positioning that will not allow us to support, love, nurture and foster positive gay relationships in our Church."

Earlier this week, Father Gary Meier, most recently of Saints Teresa & Bridget Parish in north St. Louis, revealed that he is the author. Although he says he was never truly "in the closet," the announcement is a form of coming out.

"I know in my heart and my gut I need to stand in solidarity with those who're being fired from their jobs, denied sacrament, excommunicated," he tells Daily RFT.

More »

Pope Francis I: Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests Say He's Not One of "Dirty Dozen"

Pope Francis I.JPG
Hope on pope.
Yesterday afternoon, the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome billowed white smoke, and the new pope emerged on the balcony in white robes: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. His papal name will be Francis I.

David Clohessy, the executive director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, is currently in Rome observing the conclave. In the weeks leading up to yesterday's decision, the group has been very vocal about who they did not want to see become the new pontiff, their so-called "Dirty Dozen." The list included St. Louis native Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Daily RFT reached Clohessy by e-mail to ask: What is SNAP's position on Pope Francis?

More »

Salem Library Told to Stop Wiccan Censorship: "We Are Pleased This Matter is Behind Us"

Wicca Wikipedia.jpg
via Wikipedia
Image from a Wicca page the Salem Public Library initially blocked.
Public library officials in Salem are pleased with a court order against them this week that says they cannot block Wiccan and Native American websites -- after the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri accused them of refusing to allow a patron to conduct online research on certain religions.

"We are pleased this matter is behind us and that the public library and its employees can again focus its resources and revenues solely to the purpose of serving its patrons," Glenda Wofford, director of the library, says in a statement sent to Daily RFT.

After the ACLU promoted the court decision this week, the library responded with a fairly lengthy statement -- that does little to address the fight over free speech and censorship.

More »

Fox News Goes After Mizzou For Respecting Wiccan, Pagan Holidays, Religious Diversity

One Mizzou image.jpg
via Facebook
The University of Missouri's respect for a diverse range of religious holidays -- not just the main ones, like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukah -- goes "beyond political correctness." It's "almost like an excuse to do nothing."

So says radio host Tammy Bruce, in an eye-opening Fox News story that goes after Mizzou for maintaining a policy that "lists eight Wiccan and Pagan holidays and events right alongside more mainstream occasions."

Which is, of course, a total outrage that deserves some good old-fashioned journalistic scrutiny.

More »

Which St. Louisan Should Be the Next Pope?

pope benedict_opt.jpg
image via
See ya later, Benedict.
Yes, it may be a bit self-centered of us to think, as soon as we heard the news yesterday of Pope Benedict XVI's impending resignation, which St. Louisan should replace him? But really, isn't it high time there was a Pope from the Western Hemisphere? And why not from St. Louis, the most Catholic of cities, named for a great French king/saint/Crusader, where its citizens are defined for life by which Catholic high school they attended, where fish fries are a reliable source of late-winter entertainment?

Here, then, are a few humble suggestions for St. Louisans to serve as the next Pope and speculation as to how they would reign.

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault