You Made Your Choice Mr Archbishop. It’s a Done Deal.

You Made Your Choice Mr Archbishop. It’s a Done Deal. June 14, 2014

Deacon Greg, as usual, has the story.

So, there’s this Archbishop in St Louis who is accused of the same old enabling of child sex abuse by a priest stuff we’ve gotten to know too well. Mr Archbishop gave a deposition about these accusations.

In that deposition, he did the lawyered-up, don’t-give-them-anything di-doh. It was a masterful performance of I don’t know nothin, sung to the tune of I Can’t Remember.

The all-time show-stopper was when the attorney asked Mr Archbishop if he knew that the act of an adult having sex with a child was a crime back when all this was going on. “I’m not sure if I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it was a crime,” Mr Archbishop answered. The look on his face while he said it was classic the-dog-ate-my-homework.

The attorney pursued it, and the Archbishop kept right on lying.

If you’ve got the stomach for it, have a look.

I didn’t write about this when I first saw it because, to be honest, it made me sick. I felt so sad. Bereft, almost. I had nothing to say. I just wanted to go away from this and not deal with it.

Then, just to make sure that nobody ever believes him again, the Archbishop started the second quadrille to his little dance. Deacon Greg covered it. Mr Archbishop had the St Louis Archdiocese release another the-dog-ate-my-homework statement.

This time, it was a totally idiotic accusation that inaccurate and misleading reporting “has impugned Archbishop Carlson’s good name and reputation.” This was so daft it made me question if they knew that there was a video of the deposition out there on YouTube.

The letter goes on. But it doesn’t matter. We have the video.

Now Mr Archbishop has released a letter over his own signature. He also put up a video of himself, reading the letter. I see no point in going over what he said, since he essentially didn’t say anything. It was just typical I-wuz-robbed boilerplate.

The reason I’m finally writing about this today is simple. I want to tell the Archbishop something that he doesn’t seem to get: You made your choice.

I understand that the wise person takes their attorney’s advice when they testify. I also understand that we have a thing called the Fifth Amendment to protect people in situations like this. I further understand that an attorney who deliberately counseled a client to lie under oath would be guilty of subornation of perjury.

So, I rather doubt that your attorney, Mr Archbishop, told you to do this. Not in so many words. They may have said something like, don’t conjecture unless you remember precisely. It’s best to say, “I don’t know” unless you are absolutely certain. But I doubt very much that your attorney counseled you to go out there and lie under oath.

Testifying under oath is a scary deal for most of us and testifying on something like this, where you flat out know your are wrong, must be a real horror.

Fair enough.

But you jumped the shark on this one. And there’s no turning back. It’s a done deal. And you — and every other Catholic in the world — is going to have to live with it.

It all began with enabling priests to sexually abuse children, you know. That is so egregious that nobody, and I mean nobody except maybe your mother, is going to buy the idea that it was anything but an absolute violation of your priesthood.

That’s what got this started. And it wasn’t just you, Mr Archbishop. It was a lot of your colleagues. It was rife. It was what might be called a practice.

Fortunately, I personally know a bishop who called the authorities at the first step. I am grateful to him beyond words for having done that. It gives me hope about our leadership.

But it appears that you, Mr Archbishop, did not make that stand-up choice. Which leads to the point.

It was, is and always has been, on you.

You made your choice then. You made your choice at that deposition.

When, if ever, are you going to stop trying to deny it?

You. Did. Wrong.

As a wrong-doer myself, I can forgive that. I also understand that no matter what any of us has done, we still don’t want to pay the price. There is nothing so terrifying as getting caught in your own dirt. We all want to run. I know. I’ve done my share of running away in my life.

Forgiveness comes easy from someone like me. I’ve done so much, had so much done to me, and been forgiven so much, how could it be otherwise?

I think I can forgive just about anything. All you’ve gotta do is tell me you’re sorry. But you, Mr Archbishop, are not asking for forgiveness. If you’re sorry, it looks like what you’re sorry about is getting caught.

As a Catholic who is trying to follow her Church, who actually wants to believe you, I am beaten.

I can’t believe you. I don’t. I can’t follow you. I won’t.

You made your choice, Mr Archbishop. It’s a done deal.


For another take on this, check out Frank Weathers.

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62 responses to “You Made Your Choice Mr Archbishop. It’s a Done Deal.”

  1. This is very well said. I’ve read several articles on this testimony, and yours is the one that most clearly laid the responsibility on this man’s actions and choices, without either blaming entire groups or minimizing the actions.

  2. Read this on another site on Patheos and am just as outraged as I was the first time I read it. How is it possible that he (or Mr. Archbishop—like your name for him) claims that he didn’t understand that molesting a child is a CRIME not only legally but morally? He actually expected anyone to believe that????????? What can be said? He is a person who, IMO has no morals at all.

  3. The archbishop’s deposition is a court document, under oath, that requires the action of the judge to correct, if in fact the judge is so willing. The archbishop’s “misunderstanding” and “mistake” will not be cleared up by his not-under-oath video.
    Should the archbishop seek a judicial hearing on this matter, he may find himself in far more serious trouble than he is in already. As things stand, his best choice is a quiet and prompt resignation from office.

  4. I have just read several points of view on this, along with more from the deposition, and frankly I have no idea what to believe.

  5. I’m curious – which prelate do you know who called law enforcement promptly? Thanks. David Clohessy, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790,

  6. Thanks for a terrific post. And FW Ken: Yes, Carlson has concealed and enabled child sex crimes and continues to do so. He admitted under oath that not once in 24 years as a church official in Minnesota did he ever call police. (Not even when Fr. Thomas Adamson admitted his crimes.) See also the Fr. Joseph Jiang case in St. Louis, which is very recent and on-going.

    David Clohessy,, 314 566 9790,

  7. Rebecca, this was posted on my fb page by a friend I trust:” If you go to ‘’ and click on ‘News Releases,’ you will find out the truth of the matter.” I’m confused and upset. What is the truth here?

  8. I feel the same way. I’m totally confused. Especially since this Archbishop has been deposed like 10 or more times.
    One thing, I’m thinking that maybe there should be a statue of limitations on these accusations, say 40 years of age for the accuser.

  9. I just finished reading the complete deposition by Archbishop Carlson. It can be found at the following link compliments of Deacon Greg’ and the St. Louis Post Dispatch

    In brief, I am speechless and deeply saddened. Rebecca’s much stronger statement, “I can’t believe you. I don’t. I can’t follow you. I won’t” is totally warranted.

    And for me, Archbishop Carlson’s inability answers to the questions regarding whether sexual abuse of minors was a crime or not is not the most disappointing part of the deposition–as awful and clueless as his answers were. (I’m even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was confused and that he thought he was being asked if failure to report was a crime.)

    The Archbishop’s entire deposition is a scandal because of his inability to recall (or unwillingness to say) anything of substance about issues that were of the greatest import, even if they were 25-30 years ago. If he does recall and is lying, that is scandalous. And if he is telling the truth and honestly cannot recall (and I find that hard to believe) that is scandalous and outrageous because such situations and events should sear themselves into the memory of any caring human being, and especially one dedicated to the work of the Church.

    After reading something like this I like to recall the large dove in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I have been there several times and this magnificent stained glass window has always signified to me Jesus’ promise to send his Holy Spirit to be with us always. Or said another way, God’s has assured us that that no matter how hard and how often humanity tries to foul up the Church, in the end the Spirit will ultimately prevail.

    Sorry for the long post.

  10. It’s lawyer talk from a shepherd that is the most troubling. We expect lawyers and others to do this but not shepherds. Plus, he didn’t have to give the deposition to begin with. His diocese is trying to make all things right but luckily, there are usually a lawyer or two in the comment section setting the record straight. He should not have tried to defend his defenseless testimony.

  11. I’m so sorry to read your post. I may watch the video some day (ugh) but it’s clear you are very moved (in a bad way) by what Carlson has done and has said and I just want to say I’m sorry about that. I’m glad you know another guy who made the right choices and I hope you think more of him than of this one.

  12. As far as I understand, what he actually said is that he didn’t know about when it became a crime for clergy not to report suspected child abuse to the police.

  13. But that’s because you’re young enough to remember what your political beliefs were 40 years ago.

    I’m not real sure the Archbishop is. Look at the confusion in the original transcript- that transcript certainly could have come from my grandmother in the last year of her life, as diabetes stole her brain (she even got to the point where she couldn’t identify her first husband’s photograph- and barely remembered the second). Memory loss is a documented part of aging.

  14. I don’t know exactly what you are asking Madzi. Do you mean what is the truth of the Archbishop’s behavior 30 some years ago, or the truth of this deposition or what?

    I guess, the first question would be, what is “the matter” you are referring to?

    Frankly, I’d rather let you decide for yourself what you want to believe about this. Or maybe, what you need to believe. We’re all emotionally engaged with this one, me included.

  15. Archbishop Beltran. He called both law enforcement and the press the same day the allegations were brought to him.

  16. I regard this as something we each have to judge for ourselves. Personally, I think the Archbishop did what the video and the deposition both show he did. If you read the deposition, it’s clear he’s not suffering from dementia at least not the extent that it shows. He’d have to be dotty for that to be the reason.

    But, if other people want to see it differently, that’s ok by me. We have to work this out each one ourselves as best we can.

  17. What did he claim? I just reread the post above—and I stand by what I wrote regarding his pathetic excuse. There is no excuse.

  18. Actually, I’ve gotten even more confused as the days pass and more is written about the Archbishop and his deposition, about what he did and what he failed to do with priests accused under his watch…and I appreciate your questions. I just don’t have concise answers, as I didn’t write “the truth of the matter,” my friend ( who is a diocesan priest, by the way) did. He appears to believe that the archbishop was railroaded. I cannot go that far. I am in the position that so many victims of clergy abuse are NOT: that of being able to wait this out and sift through the details as they emerge. I will tell you this, though: if the allegations made by the member of SNAP are correct, I’d be hardpressed to give the archbishop the benefit of the doubt.

  19. I think Disqus is being wonky. Ted may have responded and it has been devoured by the ethernet.

  20. OK, if that is the case—not remembering that the law regarding mandatory reporting is true, why wouldn’t he have reported it because it was immoral, since he wrote that in a memo in 1980? Yes, in some cases morality and the law are 2 different matters—but IMO molesting a child is an easy one to put on the immoral side so that calling the law would seem logical. Those that work for/in the Church were trying to protect the Church by self-rehabbing the offenders—or ignoring it totally. Thus the mess things are now.

  21. Then the psychologists needed some help! How anyone could NOT consider molesting a child wrong in any generation is unbelievable to me. I’m a ‘senior” citizen and I would have known that harming a child in any way is wrong. But I guess that is just me. .

  22. Just a couple of points of information. I was one of 6 people who started the first rape crisis center in Oklahoma. Two points:
    1. When we got it up and running, we were all astonished by the amount of incest that we encountered. I know that for me it was like discovering that cannibalism was being practiced. I had never in my sheltered little life considered the possibility that men could do that to their daughters. It was rife.
    2. As part of setting this rape crisis center up, I read reams of psychological studies and musings about rape. These psychologists were peddling ideas that I knew as a kid were flat-out nonsense. Among them, that rapists are no different psychologically from normal men; that men who expose themselves and peeping toms are harmless little guys who do nothing seriously wrong.

    They’ve backed off a lot of this stuff since then. Now we know that peeping toms and guys who expose themselves to little girls in parks are working up to violent crimes. We also know that men who rape are a lot different from men who don’t.

    However, the evil of trying to normalize these things persists to this day. I need — if I can control my anger — to write about the “work” being done in certain areas in this regard.

    The upshot of this is that I find it entirely believable that the bishops were told these things. I remember having a conversation with a prof in psychology at one of our universities in which he told me rather disdainfully that “tests show” that rapists are no different from men who do not rape. I replied — and remember I was just a kid, which tells you a little bit about my moxie, even then — then that means your tests are faulty.

    Maybe the bishops didn’t have my perspective or free-wheeling ability to back-talk to “experts.”

  23. Thank you, Rebecca, for first being 1 of those 6 people who started the first rape crisis center in OK. What an accomplishment. I expect the center has helped many folks who otherwise would have been disregarded. As I have gotten older and meeting a woman who was mistreated as a child until teenage years(that is putting it mildly) and the destructive ways she tried to deal with it on her own for years, I realize that unfortunately what went on in some of those preceived “nice families” really were awful. Also makes one wonder where those “educated” psychologists were coming from! I’ve always wondered if some of those men and women went into that profession because they had their own problems and were themselves a bit unstable. I led a very sheltered life too and it wasn’t until I left home that I realized that some kids didn’t have the secure, loving family I was raised in. So I guess to totally blame the priests for not taking things in hand because they believed what we now know as misinformation from “doctors” isn’t surprising. But I would think that in the back of some of the priests’ minds it was still wrong and sending the molester to another parish would be continuing the misdeeds. They didn’t have your perspective or the ability to back talk—as they were taught obedience in seminary.

  24. So to have a child recount what was done to them was worse than not telling? It certainly wouldn’t have to be on public display. As I mentioned above and in a couple of other comments on this subject, the woman I know who spent most of her childhood being mistreated spent much of her adult life in destructive behavior because NO ONE tried to help her. That was her way of moving on. She finally has gotten help and is leading a productive life, however she will never be “over it”. She finally confronted the perps, who naturally didn’t even try to apologize. She probably prayed for someone to ask her or inquire about what was happening to her when she was younger. To this day the perps have never been brought to justice. Statue of limitations or something, I expect.

  25. I’ve never accepted “the psychologists said so” as an excuse Sister. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter what the psychologists said. Jesus was abundantly clear about what happens to people who harm little ones.

    Oh, and thank you for your comment re the rape crisis center.

  26. Not accepting what was said by those psychologists makes it clear that you had a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus than those that SHOULD have known!

  27. Perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote regarding helping children who had been abused. I interpreted what you wrote as the feeling from psychologists that children shouldn’t have to recall what happened to them—making them victims etc. Depending on what the child was told by his/her abuser to keep them quiet would probably cause either withdrawal and silence or hopefully full disclosure to authorities and a councilor.

  28. First of all, you have to understand that this man is being questioned about things that happened 30 or more years ago, in the 1970’s. He is repeatedly asked when did you find out about this or that, and he replies that “I don’t remember exactly” and “There may be a document that would answer that question”

    If, by relying on his memory, he gets something wrong, then he could be accused of perjury. So he and his lawyers have made a decision: rely on documents rather than force him to try and remember things that happened 30 years ago. If by relying on his 30 year old memory, he gets something wrong, he will be accused of trying to hide facts when in fact he just may not remember correctly.

    Now, that being said, this guy was around in the era when priests were moved from parish to parish and so he may have been involved in that.

  29. The reason this case is bring brought at all is because Minnesota passed, just last year, a new law on the statute of limitations on child abuse. They removed the statute of limitations. So now, anyone from even 50 years ago can sue. That is why they are asking this guy questions from 30 years ago.

  30. Which leads back to the claim that is now being made that gay marriage has no effect on the children. This is very hard to believe, and I think that once again, the experts are finding the results they want to find.

  31. How does one forget child molesting priests? Time doesn’t erase those memories, unless the dude has dementia—and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  32. It’s like cockroaches. If you see one crawling around on the sink, you can be sure there are thousands behind the wall. The Bishops should be performing public acts of penance. After, that those of them who are enablers and active perverts are expunged.

  33. What has SS marriage have anything to do with priests molesting children? There is a big difference from that and having 2 loving parents who happen to be of the same gender.

  34. Tina, I don’t have any quarrel that the bishops should be held accountable. But it makes me uncomfortable to make any person analogous to cockroaches. Please try to think of less dehumanizing analogies.

  35. Vanilla isn’t the way to go here,I’m afraid. These are sins that cry out to heaven, and the sinners have long been enabled. Be careful that you are no co-opted.

  36. Tina, there’s an oddball idea floating around in our world today that equates a refusal to be abusive with weakness. I personally think that the opposite is true.

    All human beings, even those who have committed grievous sins, are still human beings made in the image and likeness of God. It is not being “vanilla” to acknowledge that. It is accepting reality.

    I am not asking you to trim your opinions, merely your rhetoric. The opposite faulty notion that floats around is that somehow or other harsh language equals justice.

    That is not true. Harsh language equals harsh language. Period.

    No one here is trying to apologize for those who have raped children.

  37. You’re expending energy in the wrong direction. There are times when harsh language is called for. This is one of those times. There seems to be an awful lot of it in the New Testament, anyway.If you had seen the movie the Bishops put out after the abuse scandal broke, you might understand the language I use, and will continue to use. If you had done any research into the moral climate of several US seminaries, you might understand why I compared sexual predators and their enablers to cockroaches. When something evil is hidden it needs to be exposed, and your delicate sensibilities might be better served if you reserved them for the victims of predatory clergy.

  38. If you think abusive language is something you want to use, that is your privilege. But you can’t do it on this blog. However you are welcome here. I hope you stay and engage in discussion about these things.

  39. I’ve known several people very well who were abused physically, sexually or emotionally as children. They almost never told anyone until they were adult enough to put distance between them and the abuser. That is why the laws were passed requiring health care workers and teachers to report it. I have a couple friends who were variously abused who would not tell even the counselor when asked. That seems to be common, I think. Right, FWKen?

  40. I understand that until the early ’60’s when an abuser was caught they were sent away to a monastery to repent, frequently forever. Things changed when they got “modern in the ’60’s with psychology saying it wasn’t really a problem and could be “cured.”
    PS, in families, when this happened, nothing was done. Some mothers or fathers kept an eye on the kids, but a lot said and did nothing.

  41. I don’t agree. There are several cases that I know about where the plaintiff waited till the priest he was accusing had dementia and was unable to talk or even died before “remembering” he was abused years ago. I know there are false accusations.
    I also know there have been especially teenagers who were abused. That’s why I said 40. That puts enough distance and maturity, protecting both, but discouraging gold diggers.
    It is nothing like murder. After 30, 40, even 50 years there is no evidence, many of the witnesses are dead. How is this justice?

  42. Of course there have been and will be false accusations. However not all priests and their superiors have dementia while they age and having the courage to come forth can take time for victims. One never forgets being abused,It is always in the mind of the victim. Hopefully a victim would come out for justice before 30-40 years passes. No statue of limitations is right for that crime. It reminds me of the few men who are still being found who worked in the German death camps—their accusers don’t forget. Think there is a fellow who has just been found here in the USA who was a guard at one of the major death camps and there is a move to send him to Israel for trial. Just because he has lived in this country (may be a citizen now) forever doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be tried for his actions in WWII. No excuses for his actions that many years ago—anymore than there is for the actions of the priests and the superiors who knew about it and basically did nothing.

  43. AnneG., was that last sentence addressed to me? If so I realize what you wrote is true. Know a person who lived it in her family—she was the victim.

  44. Yes, it was. No statistics, but I know it happened a lot.
    As for this case, I’m not sure, but it looks like it is about a money grab almost 40 years after the incident. The deposition looks less like an attempt to elicit true information and testimony and more an attempt by an attorney to trip him up.
    Again, I emphasize 40 years and multiple depositions are lots of fodder for attorneys. Again, child abuse and preying on any vulnerable person should never be tolerated and reported to the competent authorities, always.

  45. I believe SNAP has a political and monetary agenda and may not be a reliable resource.
    Rebecca, delete this if you want so SNAP doesn’t come after you.

  46. Yes, lawyers can make bundles on things like this if they are successful. However a victim on his/her own usually can’t go after someone without legal help. I expect in some cases the victim is out after money too—but I also expect that some victims are after having the guilty punished and not so much the financial award. Totally agree with your last sentence. 🙂

  47. We had a bar when I was growing up. This was before any sort of off-track betting was legalized.
    In it was a bookie. He ran his business out of our establishment. I think you can figure out who HIS employers were.
    After I’d “matured” at the age of 15-16, he took me aside and told me this: “You are now going to be attracting a lot of attention. Sometimes that attention will be from men who should not be paying you that kind of attention. If you are ever scared by any guy or if anyone ever touches you who shouldn’t be touching you, you come straight to me. Don’t bother with the cops. They can’t help you and they won’t do anything for you. I can. Don’t forget this.”
    I only forgot it once…and looking back, I wish I had remembered.