Is St. Louis archdiocese taking the archbishop’s quotes out of context?

In a blog posting at Commonweal this afternoon, Grant Gallicho suggests I may have been too hasty this morning when I reported on a press release from the St. Louis archdiocese claiming that its archbishop was maligned by media accounts and a plaintiff's attorney who, the archdiocese said, had taken parts of the archbishop's deposition out of context.

Earlier reporting had said that Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claimed to be uncertain that he knew sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a crime when he was auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the 1980s.

The St. Louis archdiocese this morning, however, said Carlson was responding not to a general question about the sexual abuse of children but to a question about a specific point of Minnesota law -- mandatory reporting laws -- when he said, "I'm not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not. I understand today it's a crime."

Gallicho's post ("Unhappy with your press? Give the out-of-context talisman a try") digs directly into the transcript of the Carlson deposition and finds a different reading.

Attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson four times a variation of the question: "When did you first discern that it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid?" Four times, Carlson responds with a variation of: "I don't remember."

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Read Gallicho's account and then read the full transcript of Carlson's deposition, which is on the website of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese.

Perhaps it was the archdiocese that has taken the archbishop's quote out of context.


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