MO- Newly released records show archbishop's cover-ups

By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
July 23, 2014

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson chose as his spiritual advisor a Minnesota priest who later admitted to being a sex addict. And Carlson, in turn, became his “close friend” and spiritual advisor too, according to hundreds of pages of long-secret Catholic Church abuse files have just been released. 

The documents show that Carlson has had direct, first-hand knowledge and experience covering up sexual abuse for almost 40 years.  

They involve a serial predator priest, Fr. Michael G. Kolar. He and Carlson, the archbishop admits, were or are “close friends.” In fact, Carlson wrote “Because of my past and continuing friendship with Fr. Kolar, it would be inappropriate for me to be involved (in his abuse case).” (ARCH 018348)

Still, Carlson meddled in Fr. Kolar's case, refusing to follow up on leads, corresponding with some victims, and telling others that their allegations had no merit. In fact, Kolar was promoted to head of the Archdiocese Youth Conference after Carlson knew that the priest was molesting vulnerable girls.

Carlson also admits that Fr. Kolar “was my spiritual director.” And Carlson became the priest's spiritual advisor. (“Fr. Kolar asked me if I would be his spiritual counselor and I agreed to do that.” p. 25- 26)

Fr. Kolar is accused of molesting innocent girls and exploiting devout women. He admitted that he “was simply using (women and girls) because of my sexual needs.” (ARCH 018513)

Despite multiple credible allegations against him over a span of years, Fr. Kolar was quietly moved from parish to parish and even sent to work in Venezuela among unsuspecting families. (The files contain a 1990 letter urging St. Paul's archbishop to bring Kolar back from South America before he hurt more girls. (ARCH 019734): “Please do not allow any opportunity for more abuse and pain to be inflicted in the future.” 

All of this is eerily similar to Carlson's current relationship with a twice-accused St. Louis predator priest, Fr. Joseph Jiang, who has moved to several cities with the archbishop and reportedly has a bedroom in the archbishop's home and a rectory bedroom barely a block away. (Fr. Jiang was in court on Monday in the city.)

In both cases – with Fr. Kolar and with Fr. Jiang – we believe Carlson's friendships and special relationships clouded his judgment. So we urge Carlson to appoint someone else to handle the Fr. Jiang case, and give that individual total access to archdiocesan records and the ability to make decisions about the twice-accused cleric.

The files also include: 

–no mention of Carlson, or any of his church colleagues, ever calling the police about Fr. Kolar. 

–Carlson's correspondence with one of Kolar's victims. When the victim says there are other girls that Kolar abused, Carlson apparently did nothing to find them and get them help.

–a 1977 letter by Carlson which is the earliest known correspondence he wrote about clergy sex crimes. This is significant because it shows that Carlson has played an active role in concealing child sex crimes for almost four decades.)

–a 1987 letter from Carlson to Kolar urging Kolar to get permission from Kolar's therapist to “share information (about the therapy sessions)” with Carlson “so that we can continue to monitor the situation.” 

–a 1987 letter from the friend of a Kolar victim to another Catholic official in which she said “Carlson said he would get back to (the victim) with some response. To this date, she has not received a response. This disturbs me.” 

– a 12/23/87 memo from Carlson to a church colleague about payments for counseling of a Kolar victim, in which Carlson writes “it might be good for us to discuss this, but I would prefer not to put anymore than this in a memo.” (ARCH 019229)

–a 1/4/88 memo from Carlson to church colleagues expressing concern about Kolar’s taking a job at a White Castle in order to help pay for one of his victim's therapy. (ARCH 019115)

–a 1/13/88 letter by Carlson to Kolar urging him to “scale down your payment (for a victim's therapy) so that the outside work (at White Castle) would not be necessary.” (ARCH 19246)

–a 3/14/88 letter from Carlson saying “Kolar had also met with (a victim) and her counselor, and he had admitted to (sexual misconduct).” Carlson also wrote “While it is clear that Father Kolar is responsible to a certain extent for [redacted]’s problems, the rape incident also plays significantly into her on-going problems. It is impossible for me of course to discern all of the impact of this, but both issues are present.” (ARCH 019002)



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