In an “oops” moment, the National Catholic Register apologized and removed an article they had earlier published written by Father Benedict Groschel, the director of the Office for Spiritual Development for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
In his August 30, 2012 blog, Andrew Sullivan shared some of the deleted comments Father Benedict made concerning Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky:
‘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 … It’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own . . . It’s an understandable thing … Here’s this poor guy, Sandusky — it went on for years . . . 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.’
It is reported that Father Benedict appeared to ramble during his interview and even stated that first-time sexual predators should not be imprisoned.
After stating that ‘child sexual abuse is never excusable,’ National Catholic Register’s Editor in Chief, Jeanette R. De Melo apologized for the comments stating that they were mistakenly published. “Given Father Benedict’s stellar history over many years, we released his interview without our usual screen and oversight.”
In his apology, Father Benedict shared, “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. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.”
Father Benedict was struck by a car while crossing a street in January 2004 resulting in a head injury and multiple broken bones. While in the hospital, Father Benedict had a 20 minute time period where he had no blood pressure, pulse or heartbeat and was in a coma for more than a month.
Spokesman for the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a group that Father Benedict helped to found, shared, “In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing. He has been in and out of the hospital.”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue also defended Father Benedict indicating that his statements were taken out of context, and that Father Benedict’s car accident and advanced age were definitely taking a toll on the priest.
Father Benedict was one of the founders of a Catholic ex-gay group, “Courage”, that urges gay men to lead a celibate lifestyle to avoid temptation. Because of this and his other ministries, his colleagues indicated that his comments were very ‘out of character.’
Father Benedict’s colleagues continued, “We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done.”
It is difficult, however, to ignore his statements that these young people are seducing their abusers and suggesting that sex abusers should not get jail as a first time offender.