A Catholic newspaper has removed an interview from their website in which a priest said that pedophiles are seduced by children in “a lot of the cases” and the abusers should not go to jail.
During an interview with National Catholic Register, 78-year-old Father Benedict Groeschel was asked about his experience working with priests involved in abuse.
“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.”
“Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.”
Groeschel pointed out that “sexual difficulties” were rarely prosecuted 10 or 15 years ago, and now if “any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done.”
“And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime,” he added.
“Father Groeschel’s suggestion that sex abusers of any profession should not get jail for a first offense — because, he claims, they don’t ‘intend’ to abuse — is simply incomprehensible,” one Catholic told columnist Matt Abbott. “Doesn’t he know that a good intention does not by itself make an act good? Hasn’t he read the Catechism of the Catholic Church?”
“Moreover, with all due respect to Father Groeschel, it is utterly irresponsible to suggest that a priest, who is in a position of moral authority, should be excused for permitting himself to be ‘seduced’ by a young person.”
Groeschel has a PhD in psychology from Columbia University and hosts a television talk show on the Eternal Word Television Network, which also owns National Catholic Register.
On Thursday afternoon, National Catholic Register Editor in Chief Jeanette R. De Melo added a note on the page where the interview had originally been published.
“The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse,” De Melo wrote. “Our publication of that comment was an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize.”
“Given Father Benedict’s stellar history over many years, we released his interview without our usual screening and oversight. We have removed the story. We have sought clarification from Father Benedict.”
Calls to National Catholic Register were not returned by the time of publication.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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