When Catholic television minister Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel gave a pedophile-excusing interview with the right-wing National Catholic Register (NCR) a week ago, it didn’t take the powers-that-be long to circle the wagons and decide on a culprit: Groeschel’s allegedly long-evident dementia brought on by age and a 2004 car accident.
Groeschel created a firestorm during that NCR interview in which he said the victims of pedophiles were to blame for their own victimizations. “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,” Groeschel said in the NCR, going so far as to describe serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky of Penn State as that “poor guy.”
The NCR issued an apology that stated, in part, “Child sexual abuse is never excusable. 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. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Which begs the questions: If “nothing” could be further from the truth, how did Groeschel’s comments make it into publication in the first place? If you’re printing something that is now rejected as being the polar opposite of reality, you’d think that someone in charge — the reporter who wrote the piece notwithstanding — would have noticed that a high-profile Catholic theologian and media figure was saying that boy fuckers were sympathetic figures, while the altar boys themselves were little harlots who were asking for it by having the audacity to tempt the priests with the boys’ slutty white robes and broken homes.
The NCR even scrubbed the interview from its web site, which I think might be covered in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “If thou cannot find proof of the offense, yay verily it did not happen in the eyes of the Lord or the Pope.” (It should also be noted here that the NCR has been most closely affiliated with the Legion of Christ and its discredited former leader, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, who was found to have been, among his many disgraces, sexually abusing young seminarians and fathering out-of-wedlock children with temptresses of color — who, no doubt, deserve some of the blame for leading Fr. Maciel astray.)
Fortunately for the rest of us the Internet is forever and Groeschel’s NCR interview will be with us always to remind us once again what horrible people populate the upper echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.
For his own part, Fr. Groeschel fell on his sword, under orders no doubt from his superiors horrified that he had the temerity to state what I’m sure most of them believe: that it is the priests and the bishops and the cardinals and the Church who are the aggrieved parties in a sexual abuse scandal brought on by enemies of the Church.
Said Groeschel in his mea culpa, “I apologize for my comments. 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.”
It should be noted here that, at the time of the NCR interview, Groeschel had not been removed from any of his high ranks in the Church, nor his religious order. He still had his weekly program on EWTN. (Keeping in mind that it must be hard to tell where sanity begins and ends when someone is on TV talking about exorcisms, angels and demons. At what point does a person sound demented? When the angels are singing show tunes and the demons sit down to have tea with you?)
Groeschel was still director of the Office of Spiritual Development of the New York Archdiocese. In fact, as near as I can tell, Fr. Groeschel’s responsibilities and level of esteem were at their zenith in the Church, the Archdiocese, his religious order, and while wearing many of the other hats he appears to have worn up until last week.
All of which brings up other questions: if his mental faculties were so frail, why was he still on television offering guidance to Catholics around the world on what constitutes Catholic teachings? Why was he still in charge of a major office of the country’s largest archdiocese?
If there is anything at which the leaders of the Catholic Church excel, it is at laying blame elsewhere for their own moral failings.