Archbishop Carlson’s Deposition Reveals a Painful Truth: He’s Just Like Us

Archbishop Carlson’s Deposition Reveals a Painful Truth: He’s Just Like Us June 16, 2014

 

It’s a bitter pill for Catholics, watching the videos of Archbishop Carlson’s testimony.

I understand and share the emotions it raises.

But we do not serve ourselves or our Church by pretending that it ain’t so. We’ve got to face this because it is reality. It doesn’t change in any way the simple fact that Jesus said “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

What it changes is the blind notion that many Catholics have — that we all want to have — that our religious leaders are sinless Christ figures themselves.

They’re just people, just like us. They are conduits of the graces of the sacraments. God can and does reach through them and into us when we go to them for support and help in our troubles.

But the miracle in that is all on God, not on them. They don’t create the miracle, they don’t control the grace. I know from personal experience that God can reach out and touch anyone, anytime. I believe that all that’s needed on our parts is a willing heart. All we have to do to receive God’s healing grace is say yes to it.

Why, then, a priesthood? If God can reach directly into us Himself then why do we need priests who are conduits of grace?

Because the priesthood is God’s instrument for bestowing this grace in an understandable, predictable and accessible way. I think that the emotionalism that is sometimes exhibited in some churches is an attempt to re-create that first transforming moment of grace when they originally said yes. It is an attempt to touch God and feel it again by using our own emotions to elevate ourselves to that level.

Priest distributes Holy Communion large

The Eucharist gives us that healing moment of grace, that experience of touching God, of feeling Christ, without any effort on our part. All we have to do is say yes and partake. It is the same with confession. Confession bestows healing grace. So much so that there have been times, including long periods when I was feeling especially challenged, that I went to confession every week, even though my sins were not so grave, because I needed that encounter with Christ, that healing grace that confession gives.

Sacramental confession strengthens us in an almost unfelt way. The more often we go to confession, the stronger we are in resisting evil. In fact, my experience has been that if I confess something on a regular basis, I stop wanting to do it. It takes a bit of time, but that’s what happens.

These graces, as well as the graces of the other sacraments, flow through the priest in a way that is simple for those of us who receive it. We don’t have to understand theology. We don’t have to work ourselves into an emotional high. All we have to do is say yes and accept the grace that is freely given to us.

The crowning moment of grace is always the Eucharist, which is direct contact with Christ. So far as I’m concerned — and I’m not a theologian, so this applies only to me and my understanding — the Church is the Eucharist. And we are the eucharist. Because the Eucharist is Christ. The priesthood exists to bestow grace. Priests are conduits of grace, and it does not matter what kind of hooligan they are personally, the graces of the sacraments flow through them to us, regardless.

Which brings me back to Archbishop Carlson. I wouldn’t call him a hooligan. In fact, I’m not sure how to label him. I don’t want to label him and his faults. It is enough for me that this is the situation in which we find ourselves, him and us. Because at this point, that’s what it’s about: Him and us.

Not, Jesus and us, or even the Church and us. But poor, messed up Archbishop Carlson and us. We don’t have to decide what to do about Archbishop Carlson. What we are tasked with is determining how we are going to relate to our dear Church in the light of the obvious fact that our leaders are ordinary people.

They can be cowards. Just like us.

They can be craven. Just like us.

They can lie, cheat, steal and run away when they get in trouble. Just like us.

They can gossip and betray confidences, hold grudges and be spiteful. Just like us.

They are not Christ.

What they are is men who have consented to be the conduits of grace to Christ’s Church, which is us. There is a moment when heaven comes to earth and the Eucharist becomes His Body, His blood, in which the divine flows through them.

The fact that a few of them become callous about this and begin to devalue it and even start thinking that it is all about them and not Jesus, does not change the impact it has on us. The Eucharist is still real, even if the priest is a messed-up welter of confusion and sin.

Archbishop Carlson reveals himself to be a lawyered-up citizen who ducks and covers under oath in an act of self defense. I have no idea why he didn’t do the obvious thing and exercise his right to take the Fifth Amendment. It would have been far less damaging to his credibility than this performance.

You can find the full text of his deposition here. Many of the salient comments are highlighted to make them easy to find.

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There really isn’t any point in trying to find an “out” for Archbishop Carlson in this. The deposition speaks for itself. Besides, it’s not our job to judge Archbishop Carlson. Our job is the much tougher one of working out how to be a faithful Catholic in a world of fallen leaders, including our leaders in the Church.

How do we follow these men when they are so nothing special as this deposition reveals them to be? Not, mind you, worse than us. Most of us would duck and cover in a deposition like this one, just like the Archbishop. Any of us who have brains would get the best legal counsel we could and do exactly what that attorney told us to do.

Archbishop Carlson doesn’t reveal himself to be a fiend in this deposition. He reveals himself to be no better than the rest of us.

Which brings us back to the task that faces us. We are fallen people, served by a priesthood that is composed entirely of fallen people, living in a fallen world.

Yet we serve a risen Savior, Who is God Incarnate. We are called to be “perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

But we can’t do it. We. Can. Not. Do. It. We don’t get through a single day without at least one and usually many sins of one sort or another.

We want heroes who will give us the illusion of the possibility of human perfection. But human perfection is always just that; an illusion.

To put it bluntly, we are all — priest and parishioner alike — down here in the pits together. As Jesus said, “There is none good except God.”

So how do we solve this conundrum of answering a call to be “perfect” while we are certain that there is “none good” among humankind?

We solve it by getting up every morning and giving our day to Jesus and His Mother. We solve it by availing ourselves of the certain graces of the sacraments. We solve it by forgiving each other and sustaining one another in our weakness.

How does this apply to the Archbishop Carlsons in our clerical leadership? More to the point, how does it apply to us and our response to the Archbishop Carlsons in our leadership?

My answer — and this is just me, talking about me — is that we need to cherish these men and help them as we can. At the same time, we need to stop pretending that they are anything other than fallen human beings. When they stand behind that altar and lift up the host, they are conduits of God’s grace. When they come down from behind the altar and scald us with a fit of rage or lie in a deposition, they are just people, wallowing around in the pit of failed good intentions along with the rest of us.

This is difficult for Catholics. It’s difficult for me. I am still working out how to deal with wounds inflicted by clergy. Some days I don’t do so well with it. Protestants can just dismiss their clergy as fallen people and be done with it. But Catholics are part of a hierarchical Church whose entire governance is built on the administration of these fallen men.

How do we, as Catholics, remain faithful when we see by their actions that we must be judicious about how and when we follow our clergy?

This is a tough one. It’s not always or even mostly about big public dilemmas like Archbishop Carlson’s dipping and dodging deposition. It is usually more personal, and because of that, far more damaging to us as Christians and Catholics.

How do we, say, disregard things a priest or spiritual director says to us in a fit of rage? How do we decide what to believe and what not to believe about the things they say to us? How do we overcome the sense of betrayal when a priest gossips about our deepest hurts? These are more the kinds of things that most Catholics must overcome in their walk of faith. The big public falls from grace seem easy to me compared to those much deeper personal dilemmas. How do we live together as Catholics in this fallen world?

These are hard questions with no easy answers. I’m going to leave it open for discussion and see what the rest of you think. In the meantime, take a look at Archbishop Carlson’s deposition. It’s clearly not a case of dementia or anything like it. He’s dipping and dodging and doing it quite well. Just like us.

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80 responses to “Archbishop Carlson’s Deposition Reveals a Painful Truth: He’s Just Like Us”

  1. We ARE all sinners. But few of us put kids in harm’s way. That’s what Carlson has done. He refused to call police even once in 24 years as a church official in Minnesota (not even Fr. Thomas Adamson, who admitted molesting kids).

    And Carlson hasn’t changed.

    –Right now, he’s letting a twice-arrested predator priest live unsupervised just six minutes away from the parish where he allegedly assaulted a boy and a girl. (Fr. Joseph Jiang.)

    –Recently, Carlson reportedly asked a victim’s family to give him evidence in a criminal case. (Police, prosecutors, civil attorneys and a victims’ parents say Jiang left a $20,000 check with those parents after they confronted him with his crimes and he admitted them. According to the parents, the police and the prosecutors, Carlson reportedly called the mom and asked for the check, instead of telling her to give it to law enforcement.)

    –He imports more proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics from other places into his St. Louis archdiocese (to Catholic facilities here called RECON, the Vianney Renewal Center, St. Joseph’s infirmary, and other church centers in Shrewsbury and Webster Groves.)

    –He has successfully gotten a clergy sex abuse case tossed out by claiming his archdiocese isn’t responsible for a predator priests’ crimes because those crimes were on private property, not church property. (We’re talking about the Fr. Thomas Cooper case, in which a judge found that:

    –a victim “has evidence” that the archdiocese knew a priest “had a history of sexual abuse,”

    –that church officials knew that leaving (the priest) alone with kids was “certain. . .to result in harm to (others),”

    –that they disregarded that known risk, and, as a result,

    –(at least one boy) “was sexually abused by (the priest.)”

    Still, Archbishop Carlson is a lucky man. He’s got people talking about what he SAID. People should focus instead on what he DOES. That’s even worse. He’s being secretive, putting kids in harm’s way, playing legal hardball, exploiting legal loopholes, and denying victims their legal right to confront wrongdoers in court.

    He’s talking like a compassionate shepherd in public while behaving like a cold-hearted CEO in court and endangering kids through this self-serving strategy.

    David Clohessy, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

    • David, you should be ashamed of yourself, as you know perfectly well the facts of Father Joseph Jiang’s case.

      For the rest of you, Father Joseph’s first accuser asked to speak to the police alone the day she turned 18. She told the police that Father Joseph had never molested her, that her parents invented the story for money, and threatened to disown her if she told the truth. Father Joseph was immediately cleared and allowed to resume his priestly duties.

      Soon after that, a family which had been trying for over a year (and failing) to sue the Archdiocese over bullying, filed another lawsuit against Father Joseph with SNAP’s help. After interviewing the child and all involved, absolutely nobody, including the St. Louis police, believes there is any credibility whatsoever to the allegations. The child changed his story multiple times and it simply couldn’t have happened. Father Joseph was simply an easy target for SNAP, which is hell bent on bringing Archbishop Carlson down any way they can.

      SNAP again and again, including in this very thread, has shown itself willing to lie and help others lie in pursuit of what it believes is justice. It doesn’t care if innocent priests and bishops suffer. According to its way of thinking all are guilty simply by mere association. Absolutely nothing it says any more has any credibility with people even remotely familiar with their tactics. Such lying is poisoning the well of civil discourse, harming real victims, and helping no one. It’s also very likely largely part of the reason why Archbishop Carlson took the attitude he did in the deposition. He recognized a trap when he saw it, and decided he was damned either way, so might as well not play the game.

      As for you, David, I want to believe you started this work with the best of intentions: to help the innocent who were wronged. But somewhere along the way, you let revenge consume you, and you’ve lost all sense of what is right and just. May God have mercy on you.

      • Could you please cite where you obtained the following information ” Father Joseph’s first accuser asked to speak to the police alone the day
        she turned 18. She told the police that Father Joseph had never
        molested her, that her parents invented the story for money, and
        threatened to disown her if she told the truth.”

        • Danno, it’s ok to ask people if they have links or similar that they can share. But remember this is a discussion, not a courtroom. Tread gently.

        • This is simply not true. There’s a pending civil suit based on the crimes this girl and her family suffered. Noone of Fr. Jiang’s accusers have recanted anything.

      • “a family. . .filed another lawsuit against Father Joseph with SNAP’s help.”

        Both parts of this are wrong. There is no second lawsuit against Fr. Jiang.

        “After interviewing the child and all involved, absolutely nobody, including the St. Louis police, believes there is any credibility whatsoever to the allegations.”

        Wrong again. These criminal charges are pending right now. So obviously police and prosecutors DO believe they are credible.

      • I thank God every day for SNAP, I do realize the truth the many survivors and their supporters expose is too much for some to bare. Some refuse to see the truth of what countless Catholic leaders have done to protect the institution instead of our children. Attacking SNAP deflects attention from real crimes, known predators molesting children and our church officials who looked the other way. SNAP, by the grace of God, has affected some change within our church, but far more remains to be done. and Emily, please don’t speak for me or many other good Catholics who support SNAP and it’s mission of truth and healing. It is clear you disagree, even hate this organization, and that’s your right, but why do you attack David for speaking his mind here? Would Christ respond in such a manner? .

        The “coat of arms” or the shield the late Cardinal O’Conner of NY read. “There can be no love without Justice”.
        Is it wrong for these victims to seek justice? As a survivor of clergy abuse myself I can tell you the clergy who molested me were most certainly protected by those that had the power to stop them. They did no such thing, lying to me and protecting the institution. I sought and repeatedly asked for a pastoral response but was given a legal one. The church had lawyers working for them against me long before I ever talked to one. If you only knew the whole truth of how countless Bishops and Cardinals have responded to victims, it is NOT the loving, compassionate response any catholic would expect. No and all too often they outright lied to us, it is well documented. You don’t have to accept the medias version, just read the documents bishops and Cardinals have written only uncovered when victims in rare cases, get to court.

        When Jesus himself said that “to anyone who cause a little one to stumble, better a millstone be tied around his neck and he be cast into the sea”. This was not one of those time Jesus stated “take the log out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brothers”, no I do not believe He will be so understanding re: the actions of the Archbishop Carlson…”Jesus also said “to those who have been given more, more will be expected”.

        • I can’t imagine what you went through from a priest. I sincerely hope that you have been able to get some sort of help outside the Church and that those in the Church who concealed and lied through everything have paid for their “sins”.

  2. “Most of us would duck and cover in a deposition like this one, just like the Archbishop.”

    Please note, however, that Carlson has done much worse than this: He admits he never once called police about known or suspected child sex crimes in 24 years as a Catholic official (priest, vicar general, auxiliary bishop) in Minnesota.
    David Clohessy, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

    • David , you may benefit most by understanding what Rebecca says and DOES with this blog. She honestly builds up Christ’s church and the faith with accurate information. She promotes respectful dialogue. She clarifies and apologizes if there are misunderstandings. She neither excuses nor falsely accuses. I can’t say the same for SNAP. You’re media tactics in my diocese were juvenile, slanderous and unhelpful to victims. This makes transparency harder and easier to falsely accuse good priests. My diocese has troubles for sure but in faithful catholic circles SNAP appears to be less than forthright with facts and finances and out to destroy the church it calls evil.

      • There would be no SNAP if church leaders would have reached out with loving concern to victims instead of throwing us away like garbage to cover up what was done to us and to protect the church instead of children.

        • You are absolutely right and we are still not doing enough. I am so very sorry for what has been done and how things have been handled. I was so angry about this decades ago that I left the church. I don’t trust any bishop. who claims they didn’t know in a general sense that there were problems. Everyone deserves dignity healing and the sacraments. As a lay person I have tried to have healing services in out parishes and pushed for more accountability. I’ll keep trying and praying. All victims deserve better…better from SNAP, better from the laity and better from our leaders! Sorry and Peace

      • The Catholic church that SNAP fights is made up of victims that were raped by the organized child rape program in the Catholic church, committed in brutal defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6

        Jesus then said that you should find every victim (Matt 18:10-14), so the Catholic church did the exact opposite. You are now defending that church.

        SNAP is much closer to being God’s church than the Catholic church, although it’s tough for you to see that when you see how rich the Catholic church is.

        • Neil, of course the rape of children is condemned by Christ. And yes, the Church has committed egregious sins concerning this very matter. However, to say that the whole Church and all its 2 billion people have done this is not true.

          As for “seeing how rich the Catholic Church is,” the Church’s wealth is primarily in art, which is certainly an unrealized — and unspendable — asset. Be that as it may, the Catholics of this world are not rich. A few of us, yes. But most of us, not at all. Many of us are among the poor and marginalized of the world.

          Stop doing the wind-milling and going off in a froth Neil. There are legitimate comments in what you’re saying, but you are hiding it behind the rageful carrying on.

        • Neil, Jesus’ reference to not hurting any of his little ones replies to all of us including those new to the faith or not yet robust in faith. That would also apply to you if anything you’ve said here angrily or done causes one to leave the church…God’s church.. The one Jesus died for and promised eternal life. You must find them and bring them back too. All of Mathew 18 shows Jesus giving authority to his Church as well as showing leaders and us how to behave.
          With true repentance all sins can be forgiven except the one Jesus cites on Mark 3:28 and that is against the Holy Spirit. Here his miracles were being labelled as of the devil. Fight abuse always and everywhere but don’t call his church with the remedy of healing graces and sacraments evil and chase people away. An unrepentant abusive priest may very we’ll end up in hell. You don’t want to join him there. Let’s all try to work together with and through Christ.

  3. It appears that you set a very “low bar” for the Catholic Church and it’s leaders. Your article makes an assumption that most of us would do the same thing that Archbishop Carlson did in his deposition.

    If you would take a few steps back and ask some questions like; Why is the Archbishop being deposed? How has his behavior hurt others?

    The fact of the matter is that his actions and at times, his lack of action has caused the destruction of innocent children and their lives.

    Carlson’s behavior has shown that he has consistently acted to protect himself and the church instead of our children. His advice to Bishop Watters to use the ” I do not remember strategy” is completely disgusting.

    Archbishop Carlson and Bishop Watters never asked the pedophile priest Adamson the names of the other children that he molested. They did not want to know and did not care. I highly doubt that many of the faithful would act in such a cold, calculating and despicable manner.

    I think that your article is disrespectful to the faithful because we are not like Carlson and the great majority of us would not put children in harms way.

    The same things are happening in Milwaukee, Trenton, Minneapolis and many other diocese’ An example used by the Bishop of Trenton to sidestep accountability by using the legal argument that; “Priests are off duty when molesting children”

    Instead of your article that attempts to explain away and minimize such unholy actions. Maybe you should write an article on why this behavior should not be tolerated.

    You seem to gloss over the facts that the archbishop is trying to sidestep accountability for the selfish decisions that he made. The church and the archbishop are fighting the victims whose lives were destroyed in part by a pedophile priests and the decisions that Carlson and others made to cover this up. That is not very pastoral.

    I would hope that the faithful will stand up against such unholy acts by replacing their donations with a note letting church leaders know that this behavior will not be tolerated

    • I’ve written several articles saying that this kind of behavior should not be tolerated. However, this one is about how Catholics — me in particular — can deal with it.

      As for the many allegations you’ve made, I’m not buying all of them, at least not based on what little I know. You are making the mistake of accepting every accusation against Archbishop Carlton as accurate and true. There may be supporting evidence for these things. I don’t know.

      But I do know that it is usual in these things for a good bit of what is said to be a kind of pile-on mishmash.

      Don’t rush to decide these things, would be my advice. Let the truth sift itself to the top.

        • Danno, I have no idea what you are talking about. I have not deleted your reply. I have not SEEN your reply.

      • This Catholic clergy abuse victim has done his homework. I
        would expect that a concerned Catholic like you would make some effort to search out the truth. This information can be found by reading the depositions of all concerned including Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn and Pedophile priest Tom Adamson. Court documents are also available online at bishop accountability.

        Your advice to “let the truth sift itself to the top” is an example of why clergy sexual assault victims feel so alienated. You tell me
        that I am “making the mistake that every accusation of Archbishop Carslon is true. “Then state that there may be supporting evidence for these things, You Don’t Know”.

        I do know, as I have read every bit of information about this case and I want our children to be protected. I also want the leaders to be held accountable for their actions that have caused so much pain and continue to do so by acting such as Carlson with his almost 200 “I do not remembers”.
        This can never happen again.

        It seems that some of my fellow Catholics choose to be willfully blind to the actions of church leaders when it comes to clergy abuse.

        We are severely wounded from the sick things that happened to us as children. Instead of reaching out to us with loving concern to aid in our healing we were treated horribly by church leaders who were intent on covering up what happened to us.

        What makes it worse is when fellow Catholics make it clear to us like your comment “Let the truth sift itself to the top” makes it clear to me, that we are unimportant.. We need you to help us heal by searching out the truth not waiting for it to come to you. Please read your reply again. Is that really what you meant? You write so beautifully, you are much smarter than your response.

        • I did not intend what I said the way you are interpreting it. I merely meant that the truth has a way of coming out and that until/unless we know the truth, we shouldn’t rush to judgement. If you know the truth, or you are satisfied that you do, that’s fine with me. I don’t have enough data to feel that I am in the same situation.

          Also, your reaction is not, or it should not be predicated on mine. If you feel strongly about something, you don’t need either my permission or my agreement. The same is true of everyone else.

  4. In other words, those men are just men with all that implies. No one is perfect—-the problem here is that some of those men took advantage of their positions and their superiors did nothing about it in order to protect the reputation of the “boss” which in this case was the Church. How do those parishioners know who to trust with the children anymore? Hopefully they never leave their child (children) alone with any priest—I would be hard pressed to do so now if my kids were still children. How does the archbishop live with his lies? I personally cannot believe he had no clue that child molestation wasn’t a crime (back then!). Wasn’t taught morals in is training and by the Church? It just makes me angry.

    • I never left my children alone with anyone. Period. Except my parents, their father (who was also my husband) and on a few occasions, a family member or friend who babysat for a few hours. But this latter was rare in the extreme. People toss their kids around too much. I don’t consider priests any more likely to be sexual predators than anyone else.

      • I agree with you that not just priests are sexual predators, Rebecca. Since we are discussing them I was focusing on that when I commented. You were, as you mentioned, in the minority with your children and only trusting those you mentioned. Obviously too many folks trusted the priests, thus the problems that have come to light over the last many years.

        • I think it’s dangerous to entrust your children to anyone. FWIW — and I’m NOT defending priests who abuse children — everyone I know who was sexually abused by an adult as a child, and I know quite a few, btw, was either abused by a family member or a “friend” of the family or a neighbor.

          • I know someone who was molested by people they knew family members. Obviously you didn’t want to entrust your children to others since you home-schooled them but not all are able to do that or want to do that. All the schools I taught in (all public until the last 10 in the Catholic school) had strict rules of not allowing any child alone with an adult in a room without the door(s) open at all times. If a door needed to be shut, then another adult had to be in the room.

            • Pagansister, I edited this comment to obscure who the person you are referring to might be. If you want me to delete the comment altogether, I will. I just don’t want to expose anyone to the internet about something this sensitive. Blessings to you.

          • I have never thought you were defending the priests that abused the children—meant to mention that and forgot.

      • Rebecca, I must strongly disagree with you there, certainly sexual abuse of a child is committed by all kinds and yes mostly family members no doubt, but to say PRIESTS are not more likely would be very wrong. In general 4% of the population are attracted to children or could be considered pedophile/ephebophile, yet when civil authorities investigate a diocese, the records show a much higher percentage than that in the general population. Of course it varies by diocese but look at the numbers released when a diocese or state was investigated by civil authorities or law enforcement. Church officials release one number and after the reports or investigation is completed, the number of clergy predators is significantly higher. The bishops play with the numbers, not counting members of religious orders or those clergy who were accused and already passed away. Check out this link and read some of the reports by Grand Jury Investigations and/or Attorney Generals for Philadelphia, Boston, New Hampshire or San Diego
        http://www.bishop-accountability.org/legal-docs/
        Additionally I spent several years in a catholic seminary and the sexual promiscuity I witnessed was beyond shocking. Again certain religious orders have particularly high rates of abuse and in no way would I trust my children with these men, Saleasians, Benedictines, and the Christian Brothers to name a few. It is worse than tragic, much worse.

        • Apparently you left the seminary instead of becoming a priest? Or did you just work in a seminary? How do you have knowledge of all the orders you mentioned above if you were only in one seminary? Just curious.

  5. I believe I understand your position on the Archbishop and wonder what sorts of negative things a priest could do that, in your opinion, would no longer allow him to be a conduit of God’s grace?

      • It’s the Catholic Church that makes him a conduit of God. Do you know what the Cardinal would have to do to lose this function in the eyes of the Church?

        • The Catholic Church ordains him, and Jesus commissioned the Church through St Peter. However, the grace comes from God.

          That’s a fine point, and really more personal with me than anything else.

          As to your question Linda, I have ideas, but I don’t know specifically. I know that a priest receives his authority through his local bishop. He can not perform any of his priestly functions (except in times of life and death emergency) without that. So, removing a priest from his assignment in a parish and not giving him another one would be a simple matter for a bishop. As to the process of removing him from the priesthood altogether, I don’t know the specifics.

          Welcome to Public Catholic, btw. How do you like blogging at the Patheos Atheist channel?

            • I read it this morning Linda. I’ve been reading most of your posts. I wouldn’t mind discussing that particular post from my perspective — which is that of a believer who’s seen a lot — but I don’t want to get into a back-and-forth hate-off, which seems to be the only option for discussion with the atheist channel. Do you think the two of us could play nice and treat one another with respect; a sort of believe as you wish, hector-free zone?

              • There are opportunities for real dialogue at the atheist channel, but we do expect people to be able to justify their views and receive robust criticism in good faith. It can certainly get forceful but it is generally good-natured! =)

                • I’m not going to dialogue on the atheist channel. No time. No interest. I am only considering writing a post discussing some of the issues raised on a post by one of my Patheos colleagues who blogs on the atheist channel. I haven’t decided to do that yet. Just considering.

              • I think we could. Also, I haven’t seen the back-and-forth hate off you mention on the Rational Doubt blog. I’m pleased with the discussion there.

      • Well someone in human form has to do it. Perhaps Linda’s question was more properly directed toward the Pope.

        You do yourself great credit, though, by not trying to explain away the Archbishop’s testimony.

        • I think you’re talking about removing a priest from his assignment and not giving him another. Any bishop can do that, anytime.

      • What a shocking abdication of moral responsibility. Sometimes it *is* for us to judge – and in this case isn’t the judgment totally obvious?

        • I’m going to allow this as a matter of clarification for readers who may be honestly interested in discussion rather than hectoring.

          I can judge what my response will be. For instance, I might move to another parish, or even, if things were bad enough with a bishop, drive to another diocese, although in Oklahoma that is quite a drive.

          But as to whether or not God allows the graces of the sacraments to flow through a priest and into the parishioner, that would be up to Him. The Church teaches that so long as the priest intends to do what the Church does with the sacraments, i.e. be a conduit of God’s grace, then that is what happens.

          It doesn’t matter about the priest. He is a conduit; not the source.

          • “I can judge what my response will be. For instance, I might move to another parish, or even, if things were bad enough with a bishop, drive to another diocese, although in Oklahoma that is quite a drive.”

            It seems to me that anything less than standing outside with a sign and lobbying for the excommunication of the archbishop would be, as I said, an abdication of moral responsibility. This is wickedness and grotesquerie of the highest order! You can bet when I get to St. Louis I will be making my voice heard on this matter. This man is not fit to offer moral and spiritual guidance to people!

            • You are correct jflcroft.

              The only reason that Carlson and other bishops continue to talk like they are the moral authority but act like ruthless CEO’s is because there are no negative consequences from the laity for their deceitful actions.

              The faithful keep giving donations that are used for legal costs to keep documents secret and to fight victims who have rightful claims.

              It seems that the only thing that many of the bishops will hear and respond to is the sound of the faithful slamming their checkbooks shut.
              Keep rewarding horrid behavior and you are sure to get more of it.

          • Jesus said child rape was unforgivable in Matt 18:6. This is not debatable, although Catholic priests have used every excuse conceivable to get away with their organized child rape program.

  6. I get incredibly disgusted by the revisionist history, the Monday morning quarterbacking and the theory that although we didn’t know then what we know now that we should have….

    Here’s the reality. In 1970 the idea of predatory homosexuals preying upon young men via their opportunities as priests would have been very difficult to believe. Homosexuality, the prevalence of this activity, the predatory nature, the conspiracy of silence allowing the abuse were all a function of the culture and knowledge as it was in those days. I was molested by my dentist. When confiding this to my sister I found that she was also molested. We contacted a friend who had the same dentist…same story. We confronted our parents who pooh poohed the entire concept as being ridiculous.

    It was a different day and time. To expect the Archbishop to have the kind of sophistication, understanding of his obligation to report to the police, and to defy the thought at the time that counseling would “cure” the predatory priests is to expect a lot.

    There probably were some evildoers who deliberately looked the other way or perhaps participated themselves. But my relatively extensive review of this and other cases indicates to me that these priests “know not what they did” and are now paying the price.

    I am a convert who came into the Church just as this issue was wending its way through the courts. I did not have the slightest concern that the CHURCH was responsible for the acts of a few depraved, ignorant or cowardly individuals.

  7. When you say he’s “just like us,” are you saying that all Catholics are as bad as this guy? Cowards, craven, lie, cheat, steal and run away? I for one did not know that Catholics behave this way. Are you saying that all Catholics should be in jail? Are you saying that all Catholics would toss their integrity out the window if their lawyer told them to? Not a good testimonial here.

    • I’m saying that we’re all fallen people living in a fallen world. Every single one of us is weak, cowardly, craven from time to time. We all lie, steal, cheat and run away now and again. Not just Catholics, but all human beings. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross.

    • It’s the comfort of satan, which Catholics always use – “We’re all sinners. I’t cool. Don’t worry about it. Come to Catholic confession and we’ll make it disappear in 15 minutes. Don’t worry about the innocent children that were raped. We’ll give you dozens of reasons why that is ok”.

      • That is not what I said Neil.

        I deleted your other comment because it was viciously anti-Catholic. I’m allowing this one, but only by a hair.

        • “I’m allowing this one”?

          Everything I said was true. You don’t like the brutal honesty, just like I don’t like the brutal child rape committed, concealed and condoned by the Catholic church, which Jesus did not forgive (Matt 18:6-14)

          Jesus said “I am the way, the truth…”

          not “I am the comfortable truths, but not the ones that expose evil committed using the power of God”

          Children’s lives were destroyed, and you are stopping the brutal truth from getting them justice.

          God isn’t stupid – you have chosen to protect organized child rape instead of children. As Jesus said, you will not be forgiven.

      • I just wanted to bump this post where you said your mother uses the comfort of satan. You’re a pathetic son, Patrick O’Malley (aka 617-Patrick).

  8. As a survivor of clergy abuse, a lifelong catholic who attended daily mass, whose children have attended and continue to attend Catholic school. What I find incredibly hurtful is the fact that Archbishop Carlson…lied about his knowledge…very recently, not 30 years ago when many claim people didn’t know better. Which I do not buy either. These bishops were confronted with countless opportunities to do the right thing. Protecting the institution instead of our children from KNOWN predators was and continues to be the overriding concern for our church. Even after the bishops made all kinds of promises in Dallas we still have church leadership trying to silence victims. In a recent case here in New Jersey a young boy molested at his prestigious school run by Benedictine monks was bound by a confidentiality agreement the monks refused to allow him out of because they didn’t want others to know about the offending priest and the money they paid this young man. The monk was accused of molesting several other boys and was convicted for his crimes. Yet even after that fact they refused to allow the victim to speak publicly, threatening him. He was released from most of the agreement only weeks ago after he returned to court to ask a judge to release him and only in the middle of the court proceeding did the monks finally agree to let him speak…except he cannot mention how much they paid him…read the story below.

    As a catholic I too once believed in the grace one obtained from practicing my faith in many ways, but I simply cannot believe those who can distort the truth and cause such harm to families and abuse victims, or those that have protected them, can convey any grace. I often wonder “do they even believe in GOD”? How can they live so contrary to the Gospel and yet be a source of grace and inspiration? How does one heal from such a betrayal of trust and continue to believe these men can lead you closer to God? I tried for many, many years, but I will do it no longer.

    It sort of encouraging bad behavior, I truly believe these guys think…well I will just go to confession, all will be forgiven and go right back to doing what I did before. How can THEY be in any state of grace?

    http://pix11.com/2014/06/10/silent-no-more-priest-sex-abuse-victim-gets-confidentiality-clause-in-case-thrown-out/

  9. My daughter worked for Bishop Carlson in the diocese of Sioux Falls in ferreting out the molestation cases and in no way was he responsible with a criminal intent. So here are a
    couple of comments from CatholicCulture. org to shed some light on what
    is going on.

    “Abp. Carlson has written to the archdiocese of St. Louis: “In the deposition
    last month, ‘I misunderstood a series of questions that were presented to me. I
    wish to clarify that situation now. I fully understand, and have understood for
    my entire adult life, as I stated in other sections of this same deposition,
    sexual abuse is a grave evil and a criminal offense… I support mandatory child
    abuse reporting laws, to which the Archdiocese strictly adheres.” See also the
    St. Louis Review article.”

    Posted by: loumiamo7154 – Jun. 13, 2014 11:22
    AM ET USA

    “Having read the apt parts of the transcript, and referring to Anderson’s
    previous work in trying to destroy the Church, I’m with Bill Donahue on this one.
    Anderson didn’t ask his questions haphazardly. He set up a heads he wins, tails
    the Abp loses scenario. Sure, the Abp could have done better, but what unfolded
    did not mean what Anderson claims. and in no way was he responsible with a criminal intent. So here are a couple of comments from CatholicCulture. org to shed some light on what is going on.”

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