Father Benedict Groeschel, host of EWTN's Sunday Night Prime with Father Benedict Groeschel and founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal made some disturbing comments recently.
According to Reuters, during an interview (which is no longer available) with the National Catholic Register, the 79-year-old said he believes that the youngsters are the blame for child abuse incidents involving priests. He also said that first-time abusers shouldn't jailed because their intentions were not to commit abuse.
"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to -- a psychopath [if you will], but that's not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster -- 14, 16, 18 -- is the seducer."
Uh huh. So the youngsters go after men who are having a nervous breakdown. Got it. What about men who aren't having nervous a breakdown who just wind up abusing youngsters because they want to?
"Well, it's not so hard to see. A kid looking for a father and didn't have his own -- and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping, but not having intercourse or anything like that," Groeschel said. "It's an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers."
Patients, this is an example of "when keeping it real goes wrong". There are certain things you can't say, no matter how deeply you feel about it. I know he thinks that incidents between priests and boys are okay. Not because of his comments, but because he's a priest. It's what they're all about. In the same interview, when asked about Jerry Sandusky of State Pen, Groeschel referred to him as "poor guy", wondered why the attacks on him lasted so long, and said that up until recently, people didn't register in their minds what happened at Sandusky's house as a crime.
Colleagues scrambled to Groeschel's defense. Some said that a car accident and a recent stroke has rendered him mentally weak as of late. Others separated themselves from the comments, but compared the Father to an elderly relative who just says things.
The president of SNAP, Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests called the comments "callious", and the Archdiocese of New York said that the comments were wrong and could not go "unchallenged". It's important to note that the Archdiocese has no authority over Groeschel since he's retired. So it will be interesting to see what exactly could be done to the Father for saying what's on his mind. Groeschel has since apologized and said that he didn't mean to blame the victim.