Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Bryan has issues

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 04, 2003

Although his first trial was voided by a deadlocked jury, St. Louis archdiocesan priest Bryan Kuchar was recently found guilty on three of six counts of statutory sodomy with a 14-year-old boy. Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan discusses various aspects of the trial:

In his taped confession, Kuchar had talked about his homosexual activity in the seminary and, later, as a priest. This portion of the tape had not been played at the first trial but was played at the second. It had to be harmful to the defense. ... Should that part of the tape have been played? I don't mean that as a legal question. The judge knows the law. Presumably, though, the sex at the seminary and later in the parish was between consenting adults. I'm generally in favor of giving a jury as much information as possible, but this was, I thought, a tough call.

What about giving the lay faithful the information? They fund the seminary and pay their priests; shouldn't they be told what they've bought for their collection plate dollars? Shouldn't they be told something beyond Article One of the USCCB Catechism: "There is no connection between homosexuality and child abuse"? The point isn't the public degradation of Kuchar but the chance to find out why and how bad priests go wrong. Any guesses as to whether the Archdiocese itself has questioned Kuchar about his contacts inside and outside the seminary, whether it wants to know the truth?

The Post-Dispatch's McClellan makes a telling point about the predictable defense tactic of assailing the motives of the accuser. Should the Church be party to this gambit?

Once church leaders had reason to know that Kuchar was, in fact, guilty, they should have instructed [defense attorney] Hadican, whom they had employed, to no longer question the family's motive for accusing the priest. The church had betrayed their trust once. Why victimize them again? The argument on the other side was that a defense attorney owes his allegiance to the person he is defending, not the people paying the bill.

The issue is not whether an accused priest is guilty in the eyes of the law, but whether his superiors have reason to believe the allegations against him have any foundation in fact. If so, they are compounding injustice by permitting a defense aimed at disparaging the reputation of the accusers. Worse, they risk demoralizing the victim and his family by savaging their attempts to speak the truth, so as to alienate them perpetually from the Church and put their souls in peril.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.