Father Benedict Groeschel
The Catholic Church has earned itself a rather nasty reputation in the department of child abuse, and has been struggling to shake it ever since. Not helping this effort is a statement made by a highly prominent member of the United States clergy, Father Benedict Groeschel, host of the Christian TV Show, Sunday Night Prime.
The 77 year-old priest, who has been ordained since 1959, made the remarks in an interview with the National Catholic Register, a Catholic newspaper that is published by the same company that owns the television network on which Groeschel broadcasts his Sunday night show. The interview with the priest was held to mark the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Franciscan Friars Of The Renewal, a conservative breakaway Catholic group that focusses on service to poor communities. Groeschel formed the group along with seven other priests in 1987.
Asked about his work with priests that have been implicated in abuse, the interview took a strange turn:
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. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.
Asked why he thought that was the case, the priest replied:
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.
It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.
But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?
At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, 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.
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