In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Benedict Groeschel, a Roman Catholic Priest, claimed that “in a lot of cases” the “youngster is the seducer” in cases involving priests and sexual abuse.
The link to the original story is still active, but the offending interview replaced with an apology. However, Catholic columnist Matt C. Abbott capture part of the interview and reposted it with commentary. Some of Groeschel’s disturbing comments follow.
[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?
[Father Groeschel]: 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.
[Interviewer]: Why would that be?
[Father Greoschel]: 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.1
Abbott weakly comments that Groeschel’s remarks were “terribly misguided.” And then some.
The original article on the National Catholic Register site – Father Benedict Groeschel Reflects on 25 Years of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal2 – has been replaced with statements by Community of the Franciscan Friars and Groeschel.
The Franciscan Friars offer some possible reasons for Groeschel’s comments.
About seven years ago Fr. Benedict was struck by a car and was in a coma for over a month. In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing. He has been in and out of the hospital. Due to his declining health and inability to care for himself, Fr. Benedict had moved to a location where he could rest and be relieved of his responsibilities. Although these factors do not excuse his comments, they help us understand how such a compassionate man could have said something so wrong, so insensitive, and so out of character.3
Groeschel also apologized.
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 that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.4
Groeschel claims his words may not have been as clear today as in the past. They were certainly clear from this reading. His comments, as an old guard, may explain why some of the victims in the 2006 documentary Deliver Us from Evil had such a difficult time getting responses from the Vatican.
What’s more disturbing, Groeschel’s original answers or that the National Catholic Register actually published them?