Matt Abbot is a Catholic columnist with Renew America, Alan Keyes’ wingnutty freaky weird site full of fanatics. You know he’s deep in the tank, so it’s a little surprising when his head rises briefly above the surface to splutter, “wait…Catholic priests…child abuse…disturbing…” before sinking back into the slime. What could possibly have shaken him up? An interview with an actual Catholic priest, of course.
[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?
[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. 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.
That’s the Catholic party line, we’ve heard it a lot. These were men of God! It’s those little hypersexualized minxes tempting them who are to blame.
Well, this time even a Renew American partisan had a momentary flash of concern. Don’t worry, he’s looking for excuses even now, and will no doubt reassure himself back into intellectual catatonia soon.
Because I have such profound respect and admiration for Father Groeschel, it pains me to say this, but I think he’s terribly misguided here. Perhaps in his advanced age he’s not articulating himself as well as he used to; I don’t know. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but, in this instance, it’s very difficult.
Hey, Matt! You’re so close! Just recognize that he’s wrong, the Catholic church is wrong, and that your understanding that raping children is simply wrong is the right attitude to take. And maybe you need to learn that your respect and admiration was misplaced.
Jasper of Maine (I feel safe and welcome at FTB) says
Wow – why are there so many children in the Catholic church who have the hots for old priests? I mean, tens of thousands?
Poor priests, first offense, seduced by a minor and made a social pariah and you want them to go to jail too? @_@
They look at a near-naked man nailed to tree all the time…
Gregory in Seattle says
The fundamental problem here is that Christianity is based on the idea that you can say, “Oops, sorry about that. I’ll try not to do it again, but, you know how it is. We’re good now, right?”
If you are sincere when you get caught and promise to try and not do it again, then you can get off with a stern glance. Even if it is the 100th time you’ve done the same damned thing. There is no need to take personal responsibility.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Well duh! They were asking for it.
All dressed up in those Acolytes vestaments holding their bibles and crosses.
They should know better than to be dressed like that and to go to places like a church or especially a rectory.
I mean just listen to that word “Rectory”.
That’s all you need to know.
Any time someone says something like this:
I always picture them licking their lips and getting all hot and bothered by the thought of those “youngsters” tempting him by, you know, wearing that Catholic school boy uniform and you know, frolicking about as youngsters are wont to do…
Yeah, keep a close eye on your children around anyone who tells you pedophiles are tempted by those seductive young boys.
Speaking of the Catholic Church, this is truly grotesque. A priest in Italy was carrying a vial containing blood drawn from Karol Wojtyla, better known as John Paul II, who became pope after his predecessor was murdered (or so it appears, although the church pretends otherwise), with the mission of putting the blood on public display. A couple of guys stole the blood, but it was recovered.
Presumably, people were supposed to look at the blood and be miraculously healed or have ecstatic experiences or otherwise experience its magical properties. While this is idiotic, it is no less idiotic than believing that crackers turn into the flesh of a guy who has been dead for 2,000 years if you eat them under the right circumstances. So I suppose it is to be expected of the faithful. But come on now, isn’t it time we all grew up?
The best Fr. Groeschel line is that from the Huffington Post:
“Pressed for clarification, the New York State-based religious leader explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill a hole.”
The hilarious (i.e. disgusting, hypocritical) part is that these same people would not let this excuse fly if the pedophile priests were having consensual sex with adult women. Or, Heaven forbid, adult men. But when they are accused of raping children , suddenly the “I was seduced!” [by a pre-teen/teenager!] becomes an acceptable excuse to the Catholic hierarchy.
Fuck every one of them that buy this bullshit handwaving. And especially those that actually perform this obvious handwaving. Transparently awful human beings.
Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention, but this is the first time I’ve actually heard that line. Are there other examples of this ‘the kid seduced me’ defense used by the R.C.Church?
I think I’m going to be sick.
Poor Matt is so hesitant, so timid in his criticism, you would be right to wonder if he has any sense of moral outrage at all. Of course, the laity were never in a position to openly criticize their masters for fear of seeming less than reverent; and especially those whose job depends on promoting the faith, like Matt. They long ago submitted themselves to intellectual and moral subservience. Matt seems just educated enough to recognize the Catholic oxymoron of believer critic, but far too morally debilitated to issue more than a tepid censure.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Good grief yes.
I don’t have one yet but in my search this came up.
This is unequivocally NOT the priest whose rectory you want to be summoned to.
No idea. I also don’t recall ever hearing the “seduced by the children” excuse before either. I took poopyhead’s “…we’ve heard it a lot” as a comment on the Raping Children Cult’s practice of blaming anyone and anything except themselves.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Sven back to your question
I think that more times than not female victims are more likely to be cast as seducers over male victims, but it does happen. I’m trying to track down an article I read on this last year but failing miserably in finding it.
The odd thing is that they think “they seduced me” gets them off the hook. It doesn’t. Quite the contrary.
A person who has power over another person, even temporarily, i.e. a doctor, teacher, priest, supervisor or boss, etc, has a moral obligation to not enter into a sexual relationship with a vulnerable party (patient, student, etc) even if the vulnerable party initiates the relationship. The ethical thing to do is to gently turn down any pass made by someone over whom you have power. All the more, if the vulnerable person in question is under 18, of course, but even someone who is a peer, if you have power or undo influence over them you may not, under any circumstances, sleep with them!
So, even if the claim that the child is the seducer were true, even if it were an adult not a child, the priest would still be profoundly at fault.
Not even counting that little vow of chastity. Did you think it meant only chastity until someone asked?
Gregory in Seattle says
Not sure about the Church specifically, but it is a very common attempt at a defense by pedophiles.
Well, yes. There it is. This is the real question that needs answering, right? A couple of hypotheses:
1. Some sort of Freudian thing elicited by the whole stupid ‘Father’ ruse.
2. Those collars. They teasingly hide the larynx except for brief tantalizing glimpses and everybody knows the sexiest part of an old man is the throat.
3. These children had their minds poisoned at a young age by being forced to watch The Thorn Birds mini-series. Richard Chamberlain is like a powerful, powerful drug, as we all know only too well I think.
Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown,
Living in a world built up of lies while suffering religiously-imposed celibacy’ll do that to a guy.
Ogvorbis: broken says
I’ve not heard it formally from the RCC before this, but I have heard it, many times, in person, from some of the extreme Catholics of my area (including a guy in my office!) and he blames the acceptance of gays for making the boys think it is okay to have sex with their priest. Bleah.
@dianne – Yes, one of so many cases in the world where someone has to be reminded that they are the adult in the room. With that come certain responsibilities. You don’t get to blame the child, whatever their behavior, for your choice to perform sex acts with them, beat them, or anything else when you are the adult in the room. How hard is this for people (especially priests) to get?
Which is just a variation on that gem of an argument:
The Sexual Revolution happened. And, according to the Sexual Revolution, sex is not a hideous, horrible thing. Therefore, impressionable young priests, those arbiters of objective religious morality, thought that it was okay to rape children. Therefore, the Catholic Child Sex Scandal is secular culture’s fault and not Catholicism’s fault. At all. Pay no attention to the cover-up behind the curtain. QED.
Oh I’ve heard it before outside of the R.C.Church, but I was just confused about what PZ said, that it’s the “Catholic Party line”. The usual M.O. for the Catholic Church is to cover it up and/or accuse the victims of lying. Accusing minors of seducing priests is new on me.
Father Spinmaster: “Obviously priests are not to be held to same high ethical standards as teachers, doctors, supervisors, or employers. I mean, seriously, we can’t expect those foolish and naive youngsters in the priesthood to behave just as morally as the average person! Let alone expect that they should be moral exemplars! What kind of bizarre world is this, where we expect priests to be just as moral, or more, than everyone else!? Clearly, you people just hate Catholicism.”
David Marjanović says
From what I can tell, he wasn’t murdered – his known medical issues were neglected, and instead he was burdened with immense heaps of work.
Much more generally, “I was provoked” is a very common attempt at a defense by… maybe it’s authoritarians. Especially when violence is involved.
Ye Olde Blacksmith - Spocktopus cuddler says
Dianne @15 summed my thoughts up perfectly and better said than I could have done.
But also this occurred to me:
Why would this man, who is having to deal with a very difficult situation, be in a power differentiated relationship with these young people in the first place?
Ogvorbis: broken says
I just realized what bugs me about that. I had an emotional breakdown. I was hospitalized for two weeks. I hurt myself, not others. How come he can use mental illness as an excuse for a priest’s behaviour but I, a layman, would still have been held responsible had I done anything to anybody?
steve oberski says
declarations made over Christmas from the Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez. … ‘There are 13 year old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what’s more wanting it, and if you are careless they will even provoke you’, he said.
Q: What do you call someone who has sex with a 14-year-old “seducer”?
Because priests are so awesomely good and moral that it is okay for them to behave in ways that would be considered evil and immoral if anyone of us lesser folk did it. Just like God Hisself.
Ms. Daisy Cutter, Vile Human Being says
I have heard this argument as well IRL from a non-religious
conservative libertariansociopath who is big into evo-psych — specifically, that young girls used to seduce the village priest because he was “high status,” which would accrue to them and, if they got pregnant, their babies.
@Kevin #28 reminds me of another point from the Huffington Post article I cited earlier:
“Furthermore, Groeschel expressed a belief that most of these ‘relationships’ are heterosexual in nature, and that historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes.
“‘If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way… And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest’s] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.'”
One wonders how Fr. Groeschel and his cronies happen to have missed all those sodomy laws — not to mention statutory rape laws — over all the years.
Ogvorbis: broken says
Ms. Daisy Cutter:
There were, during the Middle Ages, quite a few Papal pronouncements regarding priests and monks and the accessibility of women and children. I don’t have it to hand, but I seem to remember that, in Tuchmann’s A Distant Mirror, she quotes a bull in which the Church told the priests that, if a man confessed to adultery, he was not allowed to ask who the woman was as this made the adulterous woman open to sexual pressures from the priest (not phrased that way (obviously)). Many monasteries had strict rules (not always obeyed, of course (see cub and boy scouts for similar rules not always obeyed)) saying that two (or more) monks must always be present when teaching and/or disciplining the young boys who were either students or premonks.
This article/interview was featured on Fark.com, and the comments on it may be encouraging to the pharyngulistica.
For those not familiar with the Fark commentariat, I’ll mention that imho they are a smart, perceptive, if sometimes overly sarcastic, bunch of people: smarter than me on average. (That may not be saying an awful lot.) They are also given to irreverency and in-jokes; nonetheless, their comments on this are heartening.
The original interview at the Catholic National Register has been taken down.
My favorite part:
If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way.
Which is not that rare. From the former Archibish of Milwaukee:
“We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature,” Weakland says in the book, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church,” due out in June.
We can suppose all kinds of rationalizations…let’s suppose the priest-rapists have brain tumors or ingrown toe nails…it could be a long list.
We could ask why so many priests are having nervous breakdowns. What’s causing all this stress and mental anguish in so many men of the cloth? If commitment to God/Jesus/Mary is supposed to be such a powerful healing force, if the promise of heavenly afterlife is supposed to be so rich, and if they are surrounded by other priestly counselors, then you might suppose they have ample opportunities to address their issues of mental anguish.
Ultimately, it’s just rubbish piled on top of rubbish. Bull-shit by any other name stinks just as bad.
When I was 16 or even 14, I spent a lot of time thinking about seducing certain people. Old religious men where never targets of my fantasies, oddly enough.
I’ve posted this before: a few years ago I attended Safe Child training at my kids’ Catholic school (I’m a UU, my ex was Protestant when I met her). The main theme was preserving the good name of the Church at any price. They showed a video interview of an adult woman who as a child was sexually abused by the family friend / Deacon who, when as an adult she told her mother about the abuse, was told she must have tempted the man. There wasn’t any discussion of the video, so I can’t imagine what the purpose was.
^The woman’s mother accused the woman, not the Deacon, of tempation.
don’t worry about the “momentary flash of reason” it will pass soon enough to be followed by the usual denial and rationalizations.
Rey Fox says
“…but you fuck ONE goat…”
I don’t have any examples offhand either, but seeing how eager they are to level that accusation against women, I don’t really see them as reticent to use it against the also unprivileged group of children (whom they’ve been quite happy to abuse in nonsexual ways for hundreds of years too).
The previous bishop in this area blamed the kids at leas once. After several stories about current and former priests (under his oversight) who had abused children, and his (the bishop’s) continued efforts to move them around out of the reach of the law, he proclaimed that the diocese no longer had any of the offenders in its churches (also said it was better to have them in a church than in the legal system, without explanation). you guessed it: it came out that he had a guy in new buffalo who had raped two young 12 and 13 year old boys in upstate new york – he just hadn’t bothered to tell anyone. his comments:
* the guy was doing a great job in new buffalo – attendance was up
and so were contributions
* it would do no good at all to turn this guy out of the church
* it really wasn’t rape: they were consensual relationships that
had gone sour (the news stories and comments from family in new
york quickly put this one to rest)
of course, according to the new bishop: there wasn’t really any serious problem at all in the real world, it was a media-driven story.
At last! Light on what they mean by Transubstantiation-Hallelujah.
Ms. Daisy Cutter, Vile Human Being says
Ogvorbis: broken says
My abuser was a stakeholder/bishop/whatever-the-hell in the LDS. Since he was high up in the church in Arizona, does that mean that I must have seduced him, him being holy and all?
[google.com] children seducing priests
About 7,530,000 results (0.28 seconds)
… some headlines from scanning …
Outrage at friar’s claims that it is often the teenage boys who seduce …
Catholic Bishop: Children Want to Be Sexually Abused
Malawi: Women Warned Against Seducing Priests
Man jailed for child rape said children seduced him
American Friar Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse …
Priest Accused of Rapes Finds Prominence
“One of them ‘not only seduced me, he also raped me,’ the priest said.
“[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave.”
Leave? LEAVE?? Leave to where? To another church to continue engaging in this crime? Prison is the only place they should leave to.
Christoph Burschka says
What the actual everloving almighty FUCK.
He pretends all of these kids are even past puberty, let alone 16-18. The John Jay report found that nearly half of them were 12 and under; over 20% were 10 and under.
The “14, 16” figure this creep is trying to sneak in represents barely a quarter of the cases, and the “18” is nonsensical by definition when talking about child abuse.
(Also, a man apparently loses any responsibility for his actions if a fourteen-year-old “seduces” him. I really hope they don’t let this guy near any children.)
As Tim Minchin says…
As Tim Minchin says
Oh, boy. The National Catholic Register took the story off their website and then (just now) posted a retraction:
“…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…”
Read: “We editors missed an opportunity to whitewash the interview.”
It just gets better and better.
Ben Goren says
How can it be that, half a hundred comments in, and nobody has yet wondered how many children have “seduced” Father Groeschel?
That whole interview reads as if he’s not only speaking from personal experience, but as if he’s defending himself.
Father Groeschel doesn’t give a damn what the general public think. He’s preaching to the converted and hoping the gullible parishioners will accept his excuses and keep on paying their tithes (they probably will).
Damn anybody who would make anyone else think so.
And I don’t want you to be broken.
This literally makes me feel like I’m going to be sick.
In my mind someone who trots out the “but they seduced him” line – especially in relation to minors – is almost as bad as the actual rapist, and I’m willing to bet this Groeschel person has abused children himself, based on what he’s saying in that interview. I agree with Ben Goren that the guy sounds like he’s “defending” himself.
Krasnaya Koshka says
“And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”
Except that the CHILD will be forever affected. Forever!
I remember the exact way my father put his finger in me and when I can feel the same approach from someone else? I just close down and leave my body. And might be incorrect. It might be a loving approach from anyone else but now it simply makes me cry. And close off any further sexual approaches from that person. And that SUCKS!
Pretty impressive that a single elderly priest can be so sexually irresistable that hundreds of children want to seduce them. I wonder why they don’t seem to have the same effect on adults. It seems something happens around puberty that makes the priest less desirable to children.
Yeah, that makes much more sense than the other way around.
Very old story. Around 1050, Peter Damian, a saint and doctor of the church, wrote a treatise, Liber Gomarrhianus, that denounced the sexual abuse of boys by priests and monks. The book was addressed to the Pope. I guess he didn’t listen then either.
I wonder if he would still have such profound respect and admiration if it was his child who was labeled a seducer?
Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says
Krasnaya Koshka: I’m so sorry you went through that. Dissociation is shitty as hell.
Random thoughts on this issue:
1. I first read about this interview on one of the Patheos Catholic blogs. The blog in question published a link to the story without further comment. Later the blogger added a comment about how he was shocked, just shocked, to find that the story he linked to defended child abuse. Despite the fact that he used the line about the child being the seducer as the title of his post. Wish I’d done a screenshot of the original, because I’m pretty sure that it was originally presented without commentary or any suggestion that Groeschel’s views were not those of the blogger.
2. I am reminded, in some ways, of the abortion debate. People keep discussing the question of whether a teenager could or would seduce a priest. That question is irrelevant. The adult and person in a position of authority is ALWAYS responsible for stopping an abusive situation from occurring. Change the scenario a little. Suppose instead of a kid, it was an adult, but still a believer and a parishoner. Suppose the adult in question appeared in the priest’s bedroom wearing nothing but a rose between his/her teeth and saying confessing obsessive love. The priest is STILL required to gently tell him or her that it’s a no go. They can not morally have a sexual relationship with someone over whom they have power or moral authority. Sexual relationships should always be between equals.
3. A vow of chastity doesn’t mean chastity until tempted.
4. For all the people here who have been victims of abuse, it’s not your fault. No matter what. Ever. Don’t listen to any voice that says otherwise.
Fuck, is there any institution more vile and corrupt?
dianne, I suspect such an idea is beyond the comprehension of the Catholic hierarchy. To them, the ideal sexual relationship is in marriage, which to them is not a relationship of equals at all. The husband is superior and the wife inferior. Their worldview, inherited from Roman society 2000 years ago, arranges everyone into hierarchies of superiors and inferiors, masters and servants. Relationships are all about who has authority over whom.
The Mormon church, Jehovah’s Witlessness, FLDS, Branch Davidians.
This is a problem in any authoritarian church, especially ones that believe women are inferior and subhuman.
David Marjanović says
Ogvorbis and Koshka: http://calmingmanatee.com/
what is this I don’t even
His “stellar history” makes the interview more newsworthy, not less!
No, I think he’s defending the reputation of the Church… and his many, many decisions to look the other way and not intervene.
Well, the Mafia might be too splintered to count as a single institution… what do you mean by “institution”?
I fear you’re right.
Truthspeaker, that would explain a lot. Including why the friar interviewed didn’t understand what the fuss was about: the priests weren’t doing much different from what the average Catholic man was expected to do to his wife. And children as young as 13 can be married in some US states and many countries in the world…
Sven @ 10
here is another example of a Bishop blaming “sexy children”
Bishop Bernardo Alvarez
So, does this mean that the Vatican was actually protecting the children from prosecution by keeping it a secret? So really, they’re just victimizing the troubled, vulnerable priests who were, apparently, raped by these pint-sized monsters.
Hmmm, still scumbags, either way.
I had a brief moment of confusion and existential crisis when I read the first few sentences. I hate it when people have the same name as me.
jimharison @ 57
And before that circa 60 C.E. there was the Didache that also expressly noted and censored priests raping children. This is not a new problem; the new bit is the cover up, the obstructing justice, the aiding and abetting. In its history the church actually turned over priests to secular authorities after punishing priests with excommunication, cloistering, etc.