Missouri a Refuge for Predator Priests

News: US News
by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 17, 2020   

Show-Me State has an abundance of "treatment" centers

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ST. LOUIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A former monk and self-described "fixer" for the Catholic Church claims Missouri is uniquely favorable to predator priests.

Rebecca Randles

Speaking to St. Louis' Fox 2 News this week, Patrick Wall noted that "Missouri law has been very favorable to the Church," explaining that has fueled the creation of "treatment" centers — housing offender priests — in the state.

Rebecca Randles, a Kansas City attorney who represents clergy abuse victims agrees. She told Church Militant: "All you have to do is start from the top down. Just think about who some of the leaders of the Catholic Church in Missouri have been in the last three decades."

Randles rattled them off:

  • Cardinal Bernard Law (deceased), whose first appointment as bishop was in the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and who went on to kick off the entire clergy sex abuse scandal while serving in Boston.
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who began his career as auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of St. Louis and landed a plumb position presiding over the Archdiocese of New York and its array of corruption.
  • Archbishop Robert Carlson, who came from the troubled diocese of Saginaw to serve in St. Louis and where, in a clergy sex abuse-related deposition, he famously repeated, "I don't recall" 193 times.
  • Cardinal Justin Rigali who led St. Louis, then Philadelphia, and whose career ended under the cloud of clergy sex abuse.

Randles also included on her list of leaders Cdl. Raymond Burke, beloved by conservative Catholics, but who left without an entirely clean record of handling sex abuse allegations while he was in St. Louis.

She also pointed out that Missouri has more "treatment" centers than other states, and all of them are located in the St. Louis area, the more heavily Catholic part of the state.

Fox 2 News documented that:

  • The Regina Cleri Home in Webster Groves is located near a child care center
  • Jesuit Hall is across the street from St. Louis University's campus
  • The Wounded Brothers Project in Franklin County is near a summer camp
  • Servants of the Paraclete (also known as the St. John Vianney Renewal Center) is within blocks of two public parks

"It's a public safety question, you know? Where are the perpetrators that have been acknowledged either by a court or by the various religious institutes?" Wall asked. "Who's supervising them?"

Randles also mentioned the lackadaisical attitude Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has for these cases.

Randles did mention that Missouri laws give the attorney general little power to push these matters along.

"Schmitt's less-than-stellar report of his statewide investigation did refer 12 cases for prosecution. As far as anyone knows, nothing has been done on those cases," she said.

Randles did mention that Missouri laws give the attorney general little power to push these matters along, but remarkably, his office is opposing a bill that would give the state's attorney general more power in precisely these kinds of situations.

Carol Kuhnert, a native of the St. Louis area and author of No Longer on Pedestals, was sister to an abusive priest. His name didn't appear on any of the lists of "credibly abused" clergy until 2019. He lived rent-free at Regina Cleri until he died in 2004. Kuhnert is angry that the Church never disclosed her brother's crimes and never gave her the opportunity to protect her own children from their uncle.

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