Priest, TV host claims “mental decline” to explain his statements that children seduce priests
Last week, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (based in New York) and host of EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime TV show, explained in an interview how children often seduce priests, that first time sex offenders shouldn’t get jail time, and that Jerry Sandusky was a victim.
The National Catholic Register, has since removed the interview and apologized for . . . well, for repeating what the priest said. Were they apologizing to the readers, who got a glimpse into the real thought process involved? Or to the Church and their owner, EWTN, for embarrassing them?
The Washington Post reports:
Asked about working with priests involved in abuse, 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.”
In expanding on his answer, Groeschel also referenced Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach convicted of sexually abusing boys, referring to Sandusky as “this poor guy” and wondering why no one said anything for years.
He also added later that anyone involved “on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”
Editor in Chief Jeanette De Melo posted a note apologizing 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. Our publication of that comment was an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize.”
Groeschel also posted an apology to the site. “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,” he said.
That’s right, Groeschel is now claiming that he is senile, and didn’t really mean the very clear comments he’d made. His organization also described him as having failing “health, memory, and cognitive ability”.
Why, then, did they allow him to give the interview? Why did they allow him to host a weekly television show on EWTN Global Catholic Network? Could it be that his health began failing after the storm of protest against his vile commentary came to his ears?
Fr. Groeschel reportedly “decided” to step down from the program following the outrage. Naturally, EWTN, which also owns the National Catholic Register, was appalled:
[EWTN president and CEO Michael] Warsaw said the comments at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register “should never have been published” and “in no way” reflect the views of the Register or EWTN.
“It should have been obvious to the editor that Father Benedict’s physical condition and mental clarity have deteriorated and that the comments were completely inconsistent with his life’s work and witness,” the EWTN president said. “We apologize that these remarks were published and ask for forgiveness for this error.”
Yes, it should have been obvious that a magazine owned by EWTN should not have printed potentially-controversial comments from the host of one of EWTN’s flagship programs.
The Archdiocese of New York couldn’t help but pile on, looking for any way to deflect attention from its own covering up and enabling of kiddie-rape:
“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,” [Archdiocese] spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.
David Clohessy is director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He declared that comments like Groeschel’s “rub salt into the wounds of already-suffering victims” and “discourage victims . . . from reporting horrific crimes”.
But isn’t that the point?