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Famed Priest And Franciscan Friar Blames Kids For Catholic Abuse Scandals, Then Changes His Mind

Famous Catholic author and talk show host Father Benedict Groeschel put his Franciscan foot in it earlier this week, in an interview with the National Catholic Register during which he offered some insight into his religion's ugly history of child abuse. From Raw Story:

1Fr.+Benedict+Groeschel“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case,” Groeschel explained. “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.”

“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,” he continued.

Groeschel called the abuse “an understandable thing,” and pointed to Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who he called a “poor guy.”

Fr. Groeschel also pointed out that, until the past decade, what secret things passed between priests and the youngest members of their flocks were seldom viewed as criminal. Scandalous, yes; inappropriate, yes; but criminal, no. Fr. Groeschel seemed to lament this state of affairs. Whereas society was once willing to look the other way, according to Fr. Groeschel, nowadays if "any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done."

First offenders, Fr. Groschel opined, should not be sent to jail.

Once the editors of the National Catholic Register realized what they'd published, they promptly removed the story from their webpage. It has now been replaced with three apologies -- one from the editors; one from the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, which Fr. Groeschel helped found; and one from Fr. Groeschel himself. The Friars' apology contains these poignant words:

Fr. Benedict has dedicated his life to helping others and these comments were completely out of character. He never intended to excuse abuse or implicate the victims. We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done in housing countless homeless people, feeding innumerable poor families, and bringing healing, peace and encouragement to so many.

Fr. Benedict helped found our community 25 years ago with the hope of bringing the healing peace of Jesus Christ to our wounded world. Our desire has always been to lift-up humanity and never to hurt. 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.

Yes -- out of character. In fact, Fr. Groeschel has spent his career helping young people. In 1967, he founded the St. Francis House, in Brooklyn -- a shelter for homeless boys in their teens and early twenties, which Fr. Groeschel still serves as Executive Director.

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  1. I'm just in shock! These religious nutbags are just spewing their crap even more these days! What is the thought process with these people and why do they keep spewing their nonsense to reporters? Another example of blame the victim here. I'm surprised he didn't say those kids were asking for it, yeah know, wearing slutty outfits.

    Posted by: GABE | Sep 1, 2012 10:42:55 AM

  2. what the fu#&!?! tell me this is from The Onion..

    Posted by: himasf | Sep 1, 2012 10:51:08 AM

  3. Sounds like this guy needs to be investigated.

    Posted by: OKEYDOKEY | Sep 1, 2012 10:54:56 AM

  4. In a weak moment he told the unguarded truth and then to compound the error had it published.

    He's just regretting the end to a way of life that he very much enjoyed. And I don't mean the sex. I mean the religious communal experience and the revered status of the priesthood.

    Oh, and somebody should look into what went on at the boys' shelter.

    Posted by: i could go on, but I won't | Sep 1, 2012 10:58:46 AM

  5. At least these were sincere apologies and not "non-apologies" to which we have be come so accustomed lately. It is possible to give the benefit of the doubt and attribute the inexcusable words to the infirmities of an elderly person caught-up in a rambling moment which has no relationship to the way he lived his life. Unless there is further dross from him, I'm inclined to count this as an error which he sincerely regrets. He apologized as did all those associated with this incident; leave it be!

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Sep 1, 2012 10:59:12 AM

  6. Are you Catholic, Brandon?

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | Sep 1, 2012 11:01:56 AM

  7. @Alex...the idiots from planet Zargon are here to collect the remnants of their last visit to earth that they "left behind" by mistake...on purpose. Get on board you dope.

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Sep 1, 2012 11:04:08 AM

  8. @ALEX: Leave it be?! This wasn't one off the cuff remark. This is a whole series of terrible remarks and thoughts this guy is advocating. From a guy who founded a shelter for homeless boys! Does this not scare you? If not, read his quotes again.

    Posted by: OKEYDOKEY | Sep 1, 2012 11:06:51 AM

  9. This priest is most likely a pedophile who is trying to blame anybody other than himself and the Catholic Church for the priest who rape and abuse children, even today there are Catholic priest raping and abusing children, these Catholics think they are above the law, recently a priest in Long Beach California raped and abused children and is going on trial and he is one of many Catholic priest who still rape and abuse children.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 1, 2012 11:12:19 AM

  10. He's a dirty old man.

    Posted by: angus | Sep 1, 2012 11:12:38 AM

  11. It also begs the question, why is there an epidemic of *nervous breakdowns* in the priesthood?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Sep 1, 2012 11:13:51 AM

  12. I've taken the time to read this scumbag's quotes several times and come to the conclusion that there isn't any acceptable excuse for his justification for "priestly" child sexual abuse. Just to think his mind came up with this crap gives me the willies.
    Is there a pill we can give him that will end his misery?

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Sep 1, 2012 11:14:12 AM

  13. Father Benedict Groeschel; future Saint of the pedophiles

    Posted by: Will | Sep 1, 2012 11:27:10 AM

  14. It isn't natural to live a celibate life. Especially for men. The end result of thousands of hours of "not thinking about sex" is a mass of psychological problems and the creation of a set of excuses for your criminal actions.

    Posted by: homer | Sep 1, 2012 11:32:51 AM

  15. yeah, damn those "super-sexy children", eh?


    what gives? they read Lolita and thought it was an instruction manual?

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 1, 2012 11:34:22 AM

  16. Wayne:

    Thanks for reading. No, I'm not a Catholic. I was raised one, but I've been an evangelical atheist since my teens. Why do you ask?

    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | Sep 1, 2012 11:43:26 AM

  17. Oi

    I remember back in the day flipping through the channels and landing on EWTN the global catholic channel founded by Mother Angelica...and this guys show was on the station

    Posted by: say what | Sep 1, 2012 12:12:11 PM

  18. Disgusting. Those kids were innocent, nobody can blame them. Those kids were used.
    I truly hope the adults, who were used when children will make a big case of this.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Sep 1, 2012 12:14:38 PM

  19. Shades of Bruce Ritter and Covenant House--only worse. I don't think Fr Ritter ever blamed anybody for his being gay or attracted to young men.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Sep 1, 2012 12:14:47 PM

  20. According to ThinkProgress, he also founded an ex-gay group and wrote a book about how gays should be celibate.

    Posted by: Stranded | Sep 1, 2012 12:20:33 PM

  21. Fr. Groeschel is not "losing it." He truly believes what he spewed. He is part of a system that taught its "priestly fraternity" they are above laypeople (a defrocked priest is "reduced" to the lay state), and created a circle-the-wagons mentality to protect their own. He is also one of the two co-founders of Courage, which says it's OK to be gay as long as you're a self-loathing, closeted celibate, like many seminarians, priests, bishops and cardinals. This priest meant what he said and is now trying to cover. And he keeps his national pulpit on EWTN. More shame from and on the Catholic Church.

    Posted by: Tim | Sep 1, 2012 12:21:52 PM

  22. The last line of the article, about Fr. Groeschel running a shelter for boys, reads like the last line of a horror story. It actually works better if you imagine the voice of Vincent Price reading it, sort of like this:

    "And then the cannibal went back to doing his good, good work for mankind. In fact, he opened a restaurant, which he's still running today. Bon appetite! BWAHAHAHAHA!"

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Sep 1, 2012 12:26:50 PM

  23. Proving once again that the Catholic Church's understanding of human sexuality is profoundly disordered.

    Posted by: candide001 | Sep 1, 2012 12:30:24 PM

  24. @HIMASF - LOL! Not even The Onion could come up with stuff like this. Although I suspect Alex Parrish's comment may be their work ...

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Sep 1, 2012 12:31:12 PM

  25. @Alex - I might have been inclined to chalk this up to the onset of senility, except then I read what BTB reported about Groeschel's past:

    The man holds a PhD in psychology from Columbia University and should know better. We're talking Columbia University, which holds a certain amount of prestige for good reason as compared to say Liberty University. He spent years advising Catholic bishops in the USA about what to do with abusive priests, meaning he is partly responsible IMO for the crap that went on in enabling the abuse to continue as well as the cover-up. No, these comments he made seem to me to reveal what the man really thinks on the matter and not just a mistake.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | Sep 1, 2012 12:34:33 PM

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