Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Tom Robert rightly slams Franciscan leader Fr. Benedict Groeschel for remarks that place blame for clergy sexual abuse squarely at the feet of young victims:
In a recent interview with John Burger for the National Catholic Register, Groeschel looks back on his 25 years with the friars, a growing national and international community that started as a part of the better-known Capuchin Franciscans. His reflections are worth reading and his recollections at the end of the piece, a poetic reflection on death that leads to a recounting of a powerful moment as a youth, are particularly edifying.
But there is a section of the interview, in which he discusses the sex abuse crisis, that simply cannot stand unchallenged. It is particularly disturbing because he’s earned significant credentials in psychology. Asked whether he’s worked with priests who have been abusive he said:
“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 (emphasis in original). A lot of the cases, the youngster – 14, 15 18 – is the seducer.”
Let’s throw out the 18-year-olds and the whole question of power relationships and such. The majority of cases occurred with youngsters well below that age and in situations where the kids, not the priests, were the vulnerable and needy ones.
Fr. Groeschel might want to spend some time – there are week’s worth, if not more, of material to peruse – on the bishopaccountability.com Web site. There he’ll find transcripts, letters from bishops, depositions, court transcriptions and grand jury reports that should go rather far in convincing him that the primary problem with the sex abuse scandal among Catholic clergy was not seductive eight, nine and 10-year-olds. Not even 14-18- year olds.
The paper in which the interview appeared – the National Catholic Register – was once owned by the Legion of Christ. Don’t go looking into their files for any truth on the life of the late Marciel Maciel Degollado, founder of the order, at least while the publication was under control of the Legion. It has since been sold – part of the selloff of the order’s assets – to EWTN. It is heartening to see that the current readers also find Groeschel’s comments about abuse deeply disturbing.
Read full article here.