It was pathetic to read how Commonweal, home to Catholic dissidents, was straining to put the worst possible face on St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson’s exchange with Jeffrey Anderson. Every objective observer who has ever tracked Anderson knows that this lawyer has a pathological hatred of the Catholic Church. So when he locks horns with an archbishop—any bishop will do—we know what to expect. Sadly, we also know what to expect from some on the Catholic left: when in doubt, side with Anderson’s interpretation.

On June 11, Dennis Coday at the National Catholic Reporter essentially offered the account by the St. Louis Archdiocese regarding a controversial exchange between Anderson and Carlson. He should’ve stopped there. Instead, later in the day he walked back his piece, saying Grant Gallicho at Commonweal may have been right when he accepted Anderson’s version.

At issue is whether Carlson was responding to a question regarding mandatory reporting laws, or a question about the criminal nature of sex between an adult and a child. Carlson has maintained that he was responding to the former question; Anderson has claimed he was responding to the latter.

This entire controversy erupted because of something that neither Commonweal nor the Reporter  addressed: Anderson intentionally clipped that part of the video exchange he had with Carlson so as to convince the public that Carlson didn’t know it was against the law for an adult to have sex with a child. Instead of blasting Anderson for his unethical distortion, Gallicho not only takes Anderson’s side, he speaks with derision against Carlson’s lawyer (e.g, “defense attorneys aren’t too keen on compound questions”).

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