A Defense of Father Benedict Groeschel’s Comments on Sexual Abuse by Priests

August 30, 2012

A SMALL UPDATE:the headline has been altered. I used the one that came up automatically with the linked story even though I knew it used prejudicial “loaded” language. Mea culpa. (Latin for “my bad”) This item demands step-by-step thinking and reasoning skills and may not be suitable for heavy consumers of cable television news.

A SECOND UPDATE: Crunchy-con Rod Dreher (blogger on American Conservative) has a viewpoint very much different from my own. You may read it here. Groeschel would have probably been assisted by some sharper questions. I do not think he fully considered the legal aspect of his remarks, nor do I believe he actually intends one “get out of jail free card” for every priest. I take his comment in a pastoral context, as a professional man who had witnessed a lot of personal shipwrecks. Nonetheless “some” is a mighty big word and anything the Legion of Christ might have done has no bearing on Groeschel.

I am not a Roman Catholic. If you want my opinion of RC doctrine, please check the 39 Articles of Religion. I grew up in the Catholic church and it is my opinion that Evangelicals would be well served with a better understanding of the debt owed the Church of Rome for its many substantial contributions to our understanding of God, the moral teachings of Jesus, and the spiritual development of Christian people.

I am a regular watcher of EWTN, although its shameful subservience to the Republican Party is often so shocking I have to look away. Armed with the Gospel of Christ, a vibrant church should not get cozy with any human institution, especially a political party. Fr Groschel seems to be a kind and patient Christian with a firm set of beliefs and I gladly watch whenever can.

He is the subject of a critical news report on Huffington Post. Groschel is a public person and he speaks on a topic of public concern, so the coverage is warranted.

Father Benedict Groeschel Sex Abuse

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that teens act as seducers in some sexual abuse cases involving priests.

It’s been close to decade since an investigation into clergy sex abuse cases by The Boston Globe unearthed a shocking scandal and cover-up that rocked the foundations of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and around the world.

Ten years may have passed, but the wounds have yet to fully heal in America, especially in light of the recent Penn State allegations, as well as the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In light of this, the recent comments by Groeschel seem both puzzling and jarringly out of step with current sentiments.

Read it all here:

Father Benedict Groeschel, American Friar, Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse Cases.

All of this brings us to the latest outburst of Anti-Catholic clamor from the journalistic establishment. The author of this report on Fr. Groeschel correctly reports that he has an earned doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. It is reported that he runs a retreat center that provides services to priests who have been accused of sexual offenses. One would think that, if any class of men ever needed professional help and spiritual counsel, this would be them.

It looks like Groeschel got messed up in his own sense of fair-play and forbearance. “Some” is a mighty big word and there certainly must be instances where the teenagers did in fact seduce the clergy. But, wait a minute! I am about to slip into the same trap. It is the minister’s job to do the right thing and the minor is in the more vulnerable situation, even when he (or she) is the apparent aggressor. Groeschel is, I think, looking at the sin and not the crime.

My initial review of the evidence leads to a “guilty” verdict against Benedict Groeschel on misdemeanor counts of public carelessness with unpleasant facts. Padre, you really should have been a little more cautious. Not everybody can sort out the pastoral from the judicial functions of judgment. Your pastor’s compass seems to be well calibrated. There are enormous expectations and grinding work requirements on clergymen and they face great criticism. In such stressful situations, one can see how a weak human being can fall into sin. Recent surveys show large numbers of Evangelical pastors leaving the profession because of job stress and even sexual indiscretion.

As to the reporter, , I am afraid this court can not extend much leniency. The subject of this article made an (possibly) indiscrete observation. It is at least capable of misinterpretation. Groeschel has no involvement whatsoever in the Boston sex abuse scandal, although all decent people are horrified that the Vatican has so cheerfully helped Cardinal Law flee to the tiny nation of Vatican City. Groeschel is not responsible for this, not does he have any connection with the other known offenders with whom his good name has been tarnished.

So the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal are a “conservative” order? What a roaring laugh it is when novices attempt to report on the Roman Catholic Church! Conservative? Well, that settles it, Citizen Bennett-Smith! Off with the heads! The “conservative” friars are certainly getting what’s coming to them, but did you have to drag poor old Joe Paterno into this? Does Penn State have any connection whatsoever?

Thanks for bringing up the Legion of Christ! What the hell they have to do with Fr. Groeschel is completely beyond me, but when you’re spreading manure around, I guess you should spread it good and deep.

Ms. you are found guilty of irresponsible and unbalanced journalism. You have been convicted of one felony count of injecting your own narrow prejudices into an unbalanced and unfair analysis. (I am presuming your intention was not to create a news story. Please inform if that is the case so that this court may impose additional sanctions.

Your sentence, Ms. Bennett-Smith, is to read the Wikipedia article on “McCarthyism.” Pay special attention to “guilt by association.” You seem to specialize in this and it was a primary tool of the anti-Communist witch hunters. And one more thing, lighten up on Catholics and get out a little more.


4 Responses to “A Defense of Father Benedict Groeschel’s Comments on Sexual Abuse by Priests”

  1. Theresa Says:

    Thank you for this fair assessment. I was shocked to read Fr. Groeschel’s remarks, but came around to the same conclusion you have.

    • patlynch Says:

      Groeschel mixed the pastoral and the legal, which was not a good idea. I am unaware that he has any connection with the Legion of Christ other than being mentioned in the same sentence by an ill-informed journalist.

      Yes, JPII and all of the European guys for the American sexual abuse story wrong – completely wrong. They think everybody in the American media is nuts (well, they might have a point) and they refused to see the serious evidence. It is another case of elderly out-of-touch men having more responsibility then they are capable of handling.

      If I may be so bold, I urge you grab any dictionary and look up the word “some.” You might find that helpful.

  2. neil allen Says:

    Awesome. Now you blame the JOURNALIST. Awesome.

    Fr Groeschel gets a misdemeanor in your world for “careless facts”, like being sympathetic to “poor Jerry Sandusky”, while showing no sympathy for the victims.

    In your world, the reporter gets the worse indictment (or conviction).

    Groeschel was honest, and said very clearly what most Catholic priests believe. If a priest rapes one kid, don’t send him to jail. Blame the kid.

    Its important that he’s from the Legion of Christ, because, as everyone knows, they have had a huge problem with child rape, especially by their leader Maciel, who raped his own children, and conveniently was a friend of the Pope JP II, who conveniently never prosecuted him when accusations came forward. He just covered it up

  3. Rosemarie Says:

    To be fair, he and his order did apologize for the inappropriate comments:


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