In some cases of sexual abuse by priests, teenage survivors act as seducers according to an American priest, Father Benedict Groeschel, in an interview last week with the National Catholic Register.
It’s a remark that’s basically equivalent to saying a woman is “asking to be raped” because of the clothing she is wearing.
The 78-year-old Groeschel founded the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal 25 years ago. He received a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1971 and made his controversial, and deeply disturbing, remarks when the National Catholic Register ask him about his work with sexual abuse perpetrators.
While I was able to see a cached webpage with Groeschel’s National Catholic Register interview via a link from the Huffington Post, the cached version is no longer visible of this posting and Groeschel’s interview has been taken down. The quotes from the interview are via the Huffington Post.
While people have this “picture in their minds” of a “psychopath” at the mention of priests who sexually abuse children, Groeschel said:
“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.”
Groeschel made a comment to the effect that “kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill an emotional hole in their lives.”
Excuse me but, whatever the psychological state of a child, a priest, as an adult and especially one in a position of authority and power is supposed (it hardly needs to be said) to act responsibly and appropriately.
Groeschel also said that it is his belief that most of what he termed “relationships” are heterosexual in nature. He claimed that “historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes,” saying that
“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… And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest's] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”
Thank heavens it’s not that dark era “back 10 or 15 years ago” and predatory priests who sexually abused vulnerable children are now being prosecuted for their crimes and not sheltered by their superiors in the Church.
Indeed, just last month, Philadelphia Monsignor William J. Lynn became the first and highest-ranking Roman Catholic official to be convicted in the priest sex abuse scandal. Lynn has been sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison. According to prosecutors, the monsignor knowingly reassigned predatory priests to parishes, covered up credible accusations, never notified law enforcement and did not take sufficient measures to keep potential molesters away from children
As the Huffington Post observes, Groeschel has not been unaffiliated with controversy:
… [Groeschel] now lives in Larchment, N.Y., where he assists with Trinity Retreat, a center for prayer and study for the clergy he founded.
Trinity House stirred controversy in 2006 when the press learned that New York priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children, but not legally convicted, had the option of a life-long close supervision program that began with a stay at the retreat. In the wake of community objections, the Archdiocese later removed Trinity House from the list of program’s offered facilities, according to the Larchmont Gazette.
In other words, Groeschel has played at least some part in sheltering priests charged with sexually abusing children.
The author of a number of books who appears on a religious television network, Groeschel is also a professor of pastoral psychology at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) of the Archdiocese of New York. One has to wonder what he teaches seminarians — or rather, based on the (now-removed) National Catholic Register interview, one has too much of an idea of Groeschel’s teachings.
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