The Archdiocese of N.Y. has issued a statement condemning the comments of Franciscan Father Benedict Groeschel. If you missed his observations in an interview with the National Catholic Register that's no surprise. The entire interview was scrubbed last night ftom NCR's website after Father Groeschel thoughts on the psycholoigy of priest sexual abusers began to provoke widespread outrage. His comments, which seemed to excuse some priest pedophiles suffering "nervous breakdowns" and "seduced" by teens, came right out of the dark ages of the sex abuse crisis. Groeschel goes well beyong blaming the victim and excusing people who should have known better from reporting sexual assaults of children. He even offered an understanding heart for Penn State's "poor" (I kid you not) Jerry Sandusky. 

In a statement released today, Joseph Zwilling, Communications Director for the Archdiocese of New York, said, "The comments made by Father Benedict Groeschel that appeared on the website of the National Catholic Register are simply wrong. Although he is not a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, what Father Groeschel said cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. The sexual abuse of a minor is a crime, and whoever commits that crime deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Groeschel was "inclined to think" first time offenders shouldn't be sent to jail "because their intention was not committing a crime."

Zwilling continued: "The harm that was done by these remarks was compounded by the assertion that the victim of abuse is responsible for the abuse, or somehow caused the abuse to occur. This is not only terribly wrong, it is also extremely painful for victims. To all those who are hurting because of sexual abuse or because of these comments, please know that you have our profound sympathy and our prayers. The Archdiocese of New York completely disassociates itself from these comments. They do not reflect our beliefs or our practice."

While it's hard to understand how Groeschel, a practicing psychologist of all things, could believe the things he said in his interview, it's harder to understand how National Catholic Register, a paper associated with the Legionaries of Christ and the thoroughly disgraced Rev. Marcial Marcel, could not perceive any possible harm in publishing them. (The Legion sold NCR to EWTN, which has prominently feautured Groeschel.)

Mercy and redemption are part of what makes this faith wonderful, but, like too many clerics before him, Groeschel fails to preserve the proper measure of the same for the victims of creeps like Sandusky and priest-abusers. Think I go too far? Take a look below at some of what Groeschel had to say; preserved fully, thanks to Google, here in digital amber (h/t Grant G.@commonweal):

Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?

A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. 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.

 

Why would that be?

 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.

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. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.

But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?

Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.

If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.

I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.

At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done.

And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.

Update: Fr. Groeschel, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and National Catholic Register apologize here.

 

 

Comments

ROBERT OCONNELL | 9/1/2012 - 2:00pm
Fr. Groeschel is certainly getting dumped on by a lot of Christians.  The fact is that none of us is perfect.  For the record, Fr. Groeschel neither justifies nor condones any immorality in what I read. Nor does he diminish the horror of the evil and pain suffered by the victims of devilish priests.  Pleae remember that Fr. Groeschel's first statement about these priests is " they have to leave."

Saying "A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer" may be true, even though the priest alone is wholly responsible to the child, society and God.  A Chicago Archdiocese priest who went to prison for molesting a teenage boy was (a) first sent to my parish despite prior misconduct [shame on the vicar who did that, his brother the pastor and the priest himself] (b) contacted by the child without any preceding misbehavior by the priest and (c) repeatedly involved in subequently molesting the boy. The parish secretary tried to send the boy home, but he persisted; she also tried to stop the priest, reporting what she saw to the pastor and eventually the police. She considered the boy the seducer, without in any way condoning the priest. Bad stuff happens.

Fr. Groeschel seems to be in error (a) for candor, (b) for quantifying his opinion by saying this happens in "A lot of cases," and (c) for going on to say (i) "It’s an understandable thing," (ii) "there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor," (iii) "Here’s this poor guy . . .  Sandusky," (iv) "Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything," (v) "until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime," (vi) "At this point . . . a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done," and (vii) "And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail." To me, this does not reflect a "cavalier attitude towards the rape of young people" and could well be the sincere opinion of a man who may know more than the rest of us.

We all know that the concept of statutory rape governs because young people need protection.  Priests, and Fr. Groeschel in particular, deal with the horrible evils all the time.  Given his unique experience as a priest and a psychologist for decades, Fr. Groeschel's words, and the man himself, seem to me to be judged harshly. I, for one, just cannot join in.


SUSAN OLENSKI JLP MEd | 9/3/2012 - 1:58am
It is unbelievable that some still insist on blaming the child or youth. Sex with a youngster is morally wrong. For anyone to do this is an evil. The failure of so many in the Church to hold pastors, coaches, teachers to this very minimal standard of self control is appalling. The longer writers, leaders or priest counselors persist in trying to excuse this bizarre amoral epidemic the more disgusting it becomes.

If Jesus chided Martha do you really think He would give this epidemic of hypocrisy and dehumanizing children a pass? The young and the vulnerable must always be protected and the Church must deeply repent or there will be few members left. Look around.
6466379 | 9/2/2012 - 8:50am
 Dear Amy and all backers and attackers of Father Groeschel,
Precisely to Amy I respectfully say, yes, children can “seduce” parents into doing things for them that cause grief and even death, like buying a motorcycle for a thirteen year old, obviously the wrong thing to do. Sexually too, I suggest, adults may be the initial “seducer” but a thirteen year old child can become a willing part of the seduction, contributing to its continuance.

Here’s an example. A certain  boy used to play with her children, but one day their mother, a young married woman invited him to “come inside.” Once inside, the woman seduced the boy into sexual play. The boy liked it, so he stayed and at that point all that happened was seduction by an older woman of a young boy. But, the boy VOLUNTARILY returned for more again and again because he liked it and thereby, I suggest, the young boy became the seducer of the older woman! What I’m suggesting is, that however the initial sexual involvement started, by returning for “more” the young boy became at least a contributing seducer.

My point in relating this true story is to show that young boys can in varying ways become sexually seductive. Fr. Benedict suggested as much by saying that young boys are capable of sexually seducing older men/women and that a priest vulnerable through mental breakdown for example,  could  fall into the trap of what the youngster may see as a “playful game.” That’s  how the above-mentioned thirteen year old viewed his encounter, a playful game identifying himself with manhood and something to brag about!

Regarding this, as I said in my original #4 post, through psychological and pastoral ministries Fr. Benedict may have come across cases privy only to professionals, including doctors and very good friends who often know things that no one else knows. Father’s mistake  was mentioning it, but for God’s sake give the old ma some slack! He is quite ill and also 79, two years younger than I am, a man I have known for close to 60 years! – regarding his statement on Sandusky I stand by my  #4 post until proven wrong.

Let’s pray for Fr. Benedict and thank him for the incalculable good he has done especially for the marginalized. Don’t beat him up! He is in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, a saint, excelling in the Virtues of Courage and Fortitude. Just as an aside, I’ve tried to avoid multiple postings, which I don’t like doing, but It has been impossible for me to stand by and not defend my good and longtime friend. But hopefully this will be my last post on the subject.



David Smith | 9/2/2012 - 2:22am
Kevin, you're young. Had you been around the Church in the US fifty years ago, believe me, you wouldn't have been shocked by any of this. Saddened, certainly, and maybe angry, but not shocked. Back then, there were personal and institutional privacy and discretion and a general respect for social boundaries. You've grown up in a world where there's none of that.

It sounds as though what happened here is that a psychologist said in front of a microphone what many psychologists doubtless say in private.
6466379 | 9/1/2012 - 5:20pm
#25 – Dear Vincent,
Your Post leaves me speechless, for which my wife says THANKS!  How could so good a person be so wrong? There’s  nothing further  I can say in defense of Fr. “BJ” Rome, (I mean Vincent) has spoken, the case is closed.
 
#26 – Dear Vincent,
Well said! Thank you!
6466379 | 8/31/2012 - 10:09pm
#23  Dear David,

I'll break my own promise of "no more postings" to answer yours briefly, although a brief response is not adequate.  You are respectful and in certain ways persuasive. However, we live in a time where simply being a priest makes many suspicious of priestlyness (is that a word?) in that at least latently you are presumed to be pedophilic NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! You are potentially a raper of children, probably boys.  And as priest, especially if you have grown old at the altar you are automatically part of the problem and cannot be trusted. That generally, is the mindset of many in the Church and outside the church. For any priest, especially the older set it's a lose, lose, situation. They cannot win!

To clear the air of this pernicious mistrust of priests, the current crop us us must in God's own way and in God's own time fade from the scene as the Lord calls us home. Once cleared of all who have lived through the ecclesial sex traumas of our day  a new refreshed membership (it is my hope) will give priests, the Church, a chance  to regain the trust of the faithful, of people in general and to promote the Kingdom until the next trauma, whatever that may be. And so it will be as it has always been, scandal upon scandal this way. or that way, along with heroic holiness, the chaff and the wheat growing side by side, until Christ comes again. 

This David is my belief, my faith and if I am wrong I am, as St. Paul once said of those who believe in vain assuming that Christ is not risen, 
"the most miserable" of all humanity! I hope this makes at least a little sense to you.  Thanks!
JIM MCCREA | 8/31/2012 - 6:50pm
s/b "there will be NO excuse ..."
JIM MCCREA | 8/31/2012 - 6:48pm
I'm surprised that there aren't more priests well beyond the normal age of retirement who don't embarrass themselves.

They have given long years of usually good service to this organization and have earned the right to "hang it up."

Unfortunately, what with the alleged shortage of priests and all, they are encouraged or required to keep on truckin' well beyond their physical and psychological capabilities.

But, hey, this preserves the myth of the celibate priesthood, so if a few souls crumble under the pressure and dribble all over themselves in public, it's a small price to pay.

Let's hope that the Orneryariate attracts TONS of married albeit retrograde priests and the rest of the imprest priests get to go to their rewards.  Then there will be excuse for the self-deluded hopeful to stick around thinking that things will get better.

Read my lips:  It ain't going to get better! 
6466379 | 8/31/2012 - 5:15pm
#10 – Dave,  One final post referencing my original #4.  If you knew “BJ” like I know “BJ” oh, oh, oh, what a priest!  A priest who has spent his life working with the poor, the underprivileged violators and the violated., A saint he is and saints are all around us, who can screw-up at times, the great St. Augustine comes to mind and  we know how wrong he was in part in his theology of marital sexuality.
Fr, Benedict  misspoke but is certainly not part of the Church, “unaware of the pathologies corroding it” as you suggested. I wonder where he got the notion that children SOMETIMES seduce adults (priests) sexually. Do you think it possible that psychological and also pastoral counseling along the way, revealed source-structures involving sexual predatory behavior “hidden” from others? don’t know if this  is true but it is true that priests, clergy, doctors and very good friends are often  privy to confidential  information withheld from others. Really that’s not “laughable” as you suggested.
About the “poor  Sandusky” remark. In my dictionary there are eight meanings of the word “poor.” One meaning is, “lacking in good qualities: inferior in any one of a number of ways, as lacking strength or vigor, or dignity.” Is it possible that Fr. “B.J” had this in mind.  Or as a priest, maybe he was lamenting the moral darkness in Sandusky’s soul  and as  any priest should, yearned to reach out to him in his  crimes and his sinfulness,  bringing the mercy and forgiveness of Christ to him. Of course, I don’t know for sure, but just maybe, might this sort of thinking have   given rise to the “poor” remark?
Sorry if this irritates you and others, but I just had to s peak up for my good friend.
 
John Barbieri | 8/31/2012 - 4:42pm
I'm neither a fan of Father Groeschel nor of his causes, although I think he is very good man. This whole unfortunate incident illustrates the terrible evil of the priest-pedophile scandal. it tars everyone who caused it, was a victim of it, covered it up, or tried to make excuses for it. The institution as it is presently constituted is apparently unable and unwilling to clense and reorganize itself. Lord Acton was correct in saying: ''Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.''
C Walter Mattingly | 8/31/2012 - 12:51pm
Kevin Clarke,
You were totally on target to present this piece on Father Benedict. As mentioned, he probably has done many fine things and overall has been a good priest ministering to thousands, but here he is simply out to lunch. And so was NCR. Assuming he may have been impaired, why didn't they pause before they published it? This is a respected priest who has a large following who has accomplished much good ministering to others. NCR did not serve him or itself well by publishing this interview. 
More encouraging was the prompt response of the Archdiocese of New York: "The sexual abuse of a minor is a crime, and whoever commits that crime deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." Well said, but is it being well done?
And that applies not only to the diocese, but even more critically to our public schools, in which a 2005 study by the US Department of Education concluded that sexual abuse in the public school system is not as great, or ten times greater, but 100 times greater than it has been in the parochial school system. If so, not only more non-Catholic, but more Catholic kids have been abused there than in the parochial schools.
I hope you continue to be vigilant on this issue, covering not only the hoped-for progress on sexual abuse issues in our parochial schools and churches, but also in our public schools. Or, if necessary, the lack of such progress. 
6466379 | 8/30/2012 - 7:01pm
“Sad” is the right word to express how I feel about the unnecessary controversy my very good and longtime friend Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. has gotten himself   into.
But I still trust him and love him and consider him a saint, very aware of the innate goodness of the man and the incalculable amount of service he has given to the poor and to humanity at large, to the Church. As we all know, saints are human and like the rest of us can at times “get it wrong.” We correspond fairly regularly and   a recent note to me says, in labored hard-to-read handwriting, “Pray for me. I am old and sick.” The rest of the letter is a form letter sent to the huge number of people who write to him   and says   in print, “I am 79 years old and still dealing with the physical injuries of being hit by a car in 2004.” What a courageous man! Fr. “BJ” as I call him,  also had a stroke which has left him speech-impared.

A good fifty-seven years ago when he was a seminarian and I, young Brother in training, every evening after supper “BJ” would beg food from the kitchen then disappear with it. One evening some of us followed him clandestinely to discover that he was taking the food to poor people gathered near the railroad tracks, doing even then as a student, what he has done all his life, FEED THE POOR!
Maybe the time HAS come for Fr. ”BJ” to retire to his spartan friary for even deeper communion with the Lord in prayer and spiritual direction and writing. Whatever he does as far as I am concerned will be beneficial to his soul and the souls of others and in that I wish him every  thing good. He is a great and holy man worthy of praise and appreciation for all the good he has done. God bless Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.!
james belna | 8/30/2012 - 6:25pm
Everyone agrees that Fr Groeschel's comments were offensive and inappropriate, including Fr Groeschel himself. He has issued the following statement:

''I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.''

National Catholic Register apologized for publishing the remarks:

''Child sexual abuse is never excusable,'' Editor-in-Chief Jeanette R. De Melo said in a statement.''The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel's comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.''

Fr Glenn Sudano, a spokesman from Fr Groeschel's friary, said that at the time of the interview, Fr Groeschel was recovering from a fall where he hit his head. Sudano also said ''He is a counselor and he is very dedicated to the poor, and the oppressed, and actually people who are victims of everything. This is why it's shocking that he even said this. It doesn’t even sound like him.''

These apologies may or may not be acceptable to people who were offended by Fr Groeschel's comments, but as far as I know, Kevin Clarke is the only one who is disappointed that they were ''scrubbed'' from NCR's website, or who is unable to conceive of the possibility that a 78-year-old man with a head injury might have inadvertantly made a grossly offensive statement that he now profoundly regrets.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 8/30/2012 - 4:53pm
This saddens me.  I've read Fr. Benedict's work and have admired him as a man of prayer, a righteous priest, not to mention a brother Franciscan.  Howvever, in my opinion, this goes completely beyond the pale.

Father Benedict says...

"At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done."

When children are involved, this is precisely right, my brother.  To me, this is all too comparable in style to Todd Akin's recent "legitimate" rape comment.  No qualifier.  Abuse is abuse....heterosexual or homosexual, pedophilia or pederasty. 

Perhaps it is time for extended prayer, reflection...and retirement, Father Benedict.  
Donald Mei | 9/2/2012 - 8:50am
The  " 78 year old man with a head injury" might have spoken out of turn but what about a 68 year old man who was quoted in the Dallas Morning News of March 3, 2003 as saying that the church's sexual abuse scandal was largely The stuff of fiction, that reporters were doing the worK of Satan and were driven to lie because they hated the church's moral teachings. What was his excuse then? Spare me the rationalization, it insults our intelligence.
Anne Chapman | 8/31/2012 - 11:00am
David, (#10) and Amy (#12) - thanks for summing up two important aspects of this so very well.  
Thomas Rooney OFS | 9/4/2012 - 4:58pm
Did Father Benedict mis-speak?  He most certainly did, and as I mentioned at the top of these comments, perhaps it is time for the man to retire from active priestly duties.  Is it likely he's been in denial about the number of crimes committed by pedophile/pederast priests and the subsequent cover-ups?  I'd say so.  At the beginning of the scandals, I wanted so much to believe that it was largely journalistic sensationalism, desgined to sell the story.  I can empathize with the wish it would go away, the anger at having my faith in my Church questioned, attacked, ridiculed...and the shame I felt as the story turned out to be true and unfolded seemingly without end; the trials, Geoghan, the John Jay Report etc.  And finally the resignation to that truth in my admission of how broken and brutalized by this scandal my Church truly was.

I suspect Father perhaps never got to the acceptance stage. 

HOWEVER...does this inability to accept nullify the decades of work Father Benedict has done with the poor, the marginalized, the hungry, the weak?  NO.  Father is broken as we all are broken.  He has apologized for his words, admitted he was wrong and he has retired his show.  His head doesn't need to be put on a pike.   
Amy Ho-Ohn | 9/1/2012 - 6:38pm
Dear Robert and Bruce,

Kids think they want all sorts of things that are bad for them.

What if your 14-year-old nephew wants to ride your motorcycle. He can hardly stay on his bike ten mintues without crashing into something. Are you going to let him ride the motorcycle? When his mother comes to the hospital and finds him paralyzed for life, what are you going to say, "Oh, sorry, he seduced me?"

What if your neighbor's 14-year-old son wants to drink some of your beer? Are you going to give it to him? When his parents come home and find him passed out in a puddle of vomit, what will you say, "Oh, well, you know, he seduced me?"

Kids often think they're ready to have sex with adults. Or they want adult affection and are willing to trade sex for it. But sane, decent adults do not have sex with teenagers any more than they give them alcohol or let them ride motorcycles.

This is so obvious to anybody who has ever been a parent. If seminary professors can't find a way to explain it to the ontologically exalted, their prison cellmates will.
Vincent Gaitley | 9/1/2012 - 1:59pm
@24 Dear Bruce Snowden,

No, those remarks make no sense.  Believing Catholics must stop the naive and sentimental nonsense about "heroic holiness"; the chaff and the wheat growing side by side; and the vain wish that this generation of priests and bad bishops should pass away making way for a new born enlightened membership.  Why wait? Revolt against the bad bishops, fire all of them; retire Fr. Groeshel; turn off the claptrap EWTN; and stop donating.  Even better, stop going to Mass.  Empty pews and empty collection baskets will be noticed long before our pleas are heard.  Say yes to Christ, no to the Bishops and Rome.  We must help ourselves on this because the hierarchy will do nothing (and have done nothing but empty hand-wringing). Christ will understand, and if He doesn't, He isn't Christ.
david power | 8/31/2012 - 7:35pm
Dear Bruce,

I have read your comments and tried to take them in as best I can.
None of us knows the full complexity of any issue.Mrs Goebbels would have had Hitler on the altars and I for one would not deny her.
Fr Groeschel I have gleaned has  "form" as the English police say.Back in 2002 he was peddling the selfserving argument that the media was whipping up a storm in a teacup with regards the rape of children.He was not alone in this.
Cardinal Ratzinger was at the same thing even though he was aware of the tens of thousands that had been raped.
He was also aware of the massive coverup and of the crimes of Law and other bishops but as he looked around all he saw was the overreaction of the media.He  has of course since then changed his tune.
"it is true that priests, clergy, doctors and very good friends are often  privy to confidential  information withheld from others "
About ten years ago I genuinely believed that the Church knew something that I did not.I was sure they had some delicate information that was stopping them from acting in a Christian way.This was the great defense of chancers such as Maciel and even now of Fr  Gelmini in Italy.But in the end it was not so.The Emperor has no clothes.
There is no second gunman on the grassy knoll just a repressed priest with a penchant for children.
As for the semantics of poor I am not inclined to think that Fr Groeschel was behaving in a Joycean wordplay. Poor means poor, as in man of suffering. 
If you ask the maltese man who works in the Vatican on these cases if the problem is seductive kids setting upon poor old chaste priests he will run you out of Rome.
Suddenly we are lead to believe that these Alterchristuses who would die on the cross for Jesus are against their very nature made to assault young children.Bruce I think we need to pray to Jesus  for the strength to put love of God and children above that of friendship.He who does not hate his friends etc  
6466379 | 8/31/2012 - 7:33pm
#18 - Anne - O.K. he didn't say "sometimes." As someone has said, "Truth is not truth because we believe it. Truth is truth whether we believe it or not!" "B.J." has ben tried, found guilty and executed by public opinion. Case closed. Not for me, however. But no more postings.
Michael Appleton | 8/31/2012 - 7:13pm
I agree wholeheartedly with the comments of Anne Chapman.  The word "seduce" is employed by men as justification for actions which are voluntary.  I also find it insulting and demeaning for anyone to argue that I lack the ability to control my behavior in the presence of an attractive female. 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 8/31/2012 - 7:17am
Father Groeschel accidentally said in public what is said every hour of every day in rectories, seminaries, dicasteries and religious orders' rec rooms. It's like when Mel Gibson gets drunk.

This is something we all worry about, isn't it? If you had an accident or an illness and were not in your right mind, what might  you say that you would never say otherwise? What if the nurse were a heavyset black woman? What if the doctor were an Arab? What if the daughter you always suspected was illegitimate came to visit?

Stanley Kopacz | 8/31/2012 - 6:09am
If one is habituated in apologetics for an institution and its spotlessness, this sort of error is inevitable.  Church as People of God still battles Church as institution, specifically hierarchical, top-down institution.
david power | 8/31/2012 - 5:54am
I do not know the Priest in question but I would be wary of calling anybody a Saint, especially for acts done.
Heaven is not a meritocracy.
It seems clear to me that the Priest in question did not make a mistake in terms of failing to express himself correctly , he just did not realize that not only conservative catholics would read it. 
The Practise of many Bishops and catholics of this ilk is to go all ambiguous on the question of childrape.To use the passive voice a lot and to mitigate.
Those who are so clear on other moral questions like abortion suddenly have a finelytuned sense of greyness.Words like affection are bandied about and sodomy is expunged from the lexicon.
A subtle justification is at work , catholic triumphalists can now bathe in the idea that they are not so special "God may hold a special place in his heart for us but in terms of child abuse we are just run o the mill".
The poor are a stepping stone to sociopaths (Cardinal Hoyos often fed the poor),the entire clerical culture needs to be examined not just the extremes. 
The Church is still unaware of the pathologies corroding it.The idea that children are going around seducing adults is laughable. I have worked with kids for 10 years and it is nonsense and exemplifies the hatred or resentment of youth lurking under many a collar.
St Francis pray for us!
David Pasinski | 8/31/2012 - 12:16am
Both statements are appropriate and well done.
Thanks to all involved... for the sake of the many victims and Fr, Benedict...
David Pasinski | 8/31/2012 - 12:16am
Both statements are appropriate and well done.
Thanks to all involved... for the sake of the many victims and Fr, Benedict...
Anne Chapman | 8/31/2012 - 12:09am
#6 - Thank you for responding. I was surprised that someone took you to the woodshed over that - it was an appropriate observation.

I know little about the priest under discussion - like many, it sounds as though he has done much good work in his time. However, it also seems that he shares the mindset of too many bishops and too many ordinary Catholics in this church who rush to the defense of priests like this one, and to bishops who enabled decades of child abuse - he does not understand the depth of the evil perpetrated on tens of thousands of young people by priests - often ignored by other priests and protected by bishops. What is worrisome about his cavalier attitude towards the rape of young people is that he was in charge of many monks in his own order who were working with disadvantaged people, most likely including youth who have no families or resources to protect them. This is similar to the boys abused by Jerry Sandusky. Did any of his monks abuse the young and did he look the other way if they did?

This interview is simply more evidence of the difficulty of truly finding men in Roman collars who honestly, in their guts, UNDERSTAND the horror, who don't make excuses for it, who don't blame victims for it, whose first reaction isn't to defend child molesters - in this case, not only priests who raped kids, but even defending ''poor'' Jerry Sandusky.  I know a LOT of people in the same age group given that I am the only member of my own family still in the relatively youthful 60s - friends and relatives who have also suffered strokes and had other physical problems of getting older. Sometimes a few have shown poor judgment - such as falling for telephone or door-to-door scammers, but I don't know a single one who would not be totally horrified by what this priest said, horrified also by those who defend what he said, and by those who want to attribute it to old age and illness. They still understand right from wrong, even as they age.

 It also seems that this priest is woefully ignorant of the reality of the statistics in the John Jay report - the MAJORITY of victims were 14 and younger, the majority of the victims were boys (80% I believe), and the percent of priests involved was not 2% but more than 4%. In cities such as Boston where the courts forced the diocese to open the records (and acted quickly enough that the records could not be shredded as happened in Philadelphia), the figure doubles to 8% of priests. The disparity in the findings of numbers of priests involved in sexual abuse of the young in court cases v. the John Jay report certainly raises questions about how much the John Jay researchers missed. It would not be the fault of the researchers - they were not give open access to the records, but had to rely on the honesty and cooperation of the bishops. Given that both Gov. Frank Keating and Judge Anne Burke, who led the National Review Board of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops , set up to study the sex abuse scandal,  accused the bishops of extreme hostility towards their work, and an absence of cooperation in many cases, it is very likely that many bishops did not fully report on the cases of abuse in their dioceses, nor the number of victims, nor the number of priest-abusers.  Yet, many attempt to brush it all aside, to trivialize it, or to change the subject (there is one regular poster on this board who usually shows up with a lot of irrelevant statistics about abuse in public schools) to divert attention away from what seems STILL to be the tragic ongoing reality in the Catholic church - that the men in the chanceries, the men in Rome, still don't ''get it.''  As someone commented in another forum about the NY Diocese's statement - he hopes they are truly starting to get it. But, given the track record of the hierarchy all the way to the top, he doubts it - he suspects that they have only learned how to better play the spin game, the political game, the PR game. They know they have to get out in front and address the issues to avoid another media storm - but is there truly a change of heart?
 
David Pasinski | 8/30/2012 - 5:13pm
I am grateful that the AArchdioces would issue sucha quick statement. For all his goodness, I believe that Fr. Benedict has been copted or blinded by the "clerical culture" and possibly spent too little time with parents, children, and those who were abused by priests- or anyone.
Retirement is the best option - and hopefulyy no further use in psychologicals by orders or dioceses.
Tim O'Leary | 9/1/2012 - 8:25pm
I occasionally watched Fr. Benedict Groeschel on EWTN over the years. He seems to have spent most of his life with the outcasts of society, including criminals and especially those with addictions of various kinds. Many of the people he spoke about had done bad things. He was always emphasizing the power of faith and forgiveness, and love even for those who hurt all around them. He frequently used the language of psychiatry, with its clinical objectiveness and non-judgmentalism (which can be seen as a particular weakness in the case of pedophilia). I always thought him a holy man who was willing to live in places and with people that I would not want to do.

The interview he gave is very unfortunate, first of all because seduction (which much be rare if it exists at all) is no excuse, and second, because it is a completely unacceptable stance given the recent failings in the Church to adequately police its own. The NY Archdiocese did the right thing in condemning the interview.

Third, we must recall that every priest who was sent back to a parish did so after the evaluation/clearance of a psychologist/psychiatrist and the medical profession seems to have avoided any sufficient critique in the whole scandal.

Fourth, since we all know the problem of child abuse is far greater in the general society (in public schools, on the streets and in families), it is very important that the Church both learn from their own failings and help the greater society deal with this growing problem.

But, I agree with those above that bad judgment in a single interview from a man in his 80s who is in partial recovery from a bad auto accident is insufficient to judget the life of this man, and I still consider it likely he is a very holy man. 

To those who are waiting for a greater quality of clergy in the Church, I would suggest we could also do with a much greater quality of laity (where the epidemic of sin is no less). But, God has His reasons why His Church is more like a hospital filled with sick pilgrims than a holy city on a hill. On the other hand, most of us might not qualify for a holy city.

Jack Barry | 9/5/2012 - 7:00pm
It took a week of widespread uproar for responsible (?) authorities to notice that Fr. Groeschel's wisdom was so unfit for public consumption that he needed to quit his TV show.  If he didn't, embarrassment would continue for EWTN, NCRegister, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Archdiocese of New York, St. Joseph's Seminary (Adjunct Faculty), Trinity Retreat (Associate Directorship), and others.  Some express sympathy for him which appears well deserved, given his current condition as reported by the friars.  
The 8/30 Catholic League news release on Groeschel noted that, in addition to counseling, "for the past four decades he has been screening men for the priesthood, weeding out those who should not be ordained."   Assuming the substance of his interview was not a very recent brainstorm, who will attend today to the damage he has done with that kind of thinking professionally applied to numerous priesthood candidate approvals and rejections, seminary students taught, clergy counseled, and retreatants given guidance?  Is that part of his "decades of work"?   Apologies now are unlikely to affect minds he has persuasively influenced in the direction of his interview over years.   
6466379 | 9/1/2012 - 5:24pm
Sorry, #26 in previous post should be Robert
ed gleason | 9/2/2012 - 8:28pm
The abuse excusers posting here will have another shot next week when two priests and a teacher from the same parish go on trial in Philly. They are accused of passing around in their parish, a ten year old, for sex. Will the excusers posting here  tell us next week  that this ten year old seduced the three creeps.???
What the abuse excusers don't appreciate is that  they and the vast majority of pew laity, the majority of bishops, clergy believe these same lies that are being fed to the press, the microphone for the last 25 years. The excusers look for opportunities to  speak, to spread their BS and think they are 'standing up for Holy Mother Church... Please stop this stuff and at least I, will stop calling you enablers evil.  
Anne Chapman | 8/31/2012 - 5:41pm
Actually, Bruce, he did not say SOMETIMES as you emphasize - he said: "A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer."  A LOT - this is very different in its implications than SOMETIMES.  

I once read that a woman pscyhologist who visited John Geoghan in prison (the serial molester who eventually was involved in more than 130 cases of sexual abuse of the young, given free reign by Cardinal Law and his predecessors who moved him from parish to parish to parish....) said he was so warm, so charming that it was difficult even for her, a professional, to grasp that he inflicted so much evil on so many young people.

Very often it is difficult to see past the surface appeal of many of our friends and family. It does not seem that Fr. Groschel was an abuser himself. You know Fr. Groeschel well, personally and find him to be "saintly."  But blindness about those whom we admire and respect and love is commonplace. It is very likely that his many friendships with priests may have blinded him to the reality that many very charming men are also sexual predators in Roman collars and that they are not victims.   

His comments about rape are as disturbing as his views on child molesting by priests and they show that he simply does not take sexual crimes seriously. Many women and girls (and their parents) did not in the past and still do not pursue justice in the courts because so very often the female rape victim is seen as "asking for it" - by the way she dressed, or walked, or looked at a male or even if she made the mistake of smiling and being friendly.  He is doing the same thing - accusing the victims of being the guilty ones, rather than the abuser or rapist. Many  boys were raped and molested by priests and they no more "asked" for it than female victims of rape did. Yet he seems to believe, like too many others who brush aside these crimes, that the victims "asked for it" whether the victim is a female attacked while in a vulnerable place, or a teen-age girl whose boyfriend forces her to "go all the way" and who is afraid to tell her parents (and others who would say she "asked for it" by trusting her boyfriend to stop when requested) or the boy in the youth group or the altar server who is victimized by a priest he had trusted.

Too many priests share his myopia (to put it as charitably as I can) on this subject. It's hard to believe when it has been in the news non-stop for years now. But the bishops and the pope have never shown honest repentance, true remorse, only a desire to make it go away without changing anything in the clerical culture that has contributed to this terrible moral blindness. Fr. Groeschel has been part of this culture most of his life. He too is blind.