The comments by the Catholic priest Benedict Groeschel that I wrote about yesterday, where he seemed to view sexual abusers like priests and even Jerry Sandusky with indulgence while suggesting that their victims may be the real predators who may have seduced them, created a predictable uproar.
The Catholic Church has gone into a defensive mode, something it is well-practiced in by now. It first disavowed those sentiments, saying that “Any abuser of a child is always responsible, especially a priest. Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such.”
It then went on to suggest that the priest has been losing his marbles for some time and thus did not know what he was saying. The religious community that he founded, after recounting his many years of good works, said “About seven years ago, Fr. Benedict was struck by a car and was in a coma for over a month. In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing.” They seem to have got him to go along with it, with him also issuing a statement that “My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be.”
Oddly enough, the National Catholic Register that originally carried the transcript of the interview then scrubbed it and replaced it with an editor’s comment apologizing for publishing it. It is a curious apology, saying “Given Father Benedict’s stellar history over many years, we released his interview without our usual screening and oversight”, suggesting that the interview was not erroneous but that the editors should have sanitized the interview to protect the priest’s ‘stellar history’.
But this weird logic makes sense when you learn that until last year the National Catholic Register was owned by the infamous Legion of Christ, whose own founder Rev. Marcial Maciel was a notorious abuser and pedophile who was highly praised by the Vatican. It was then bought by a conservative media outlet EWTN on which Groeschel was a frequent guest.
I don’t buy the argument that Groeschel’s comments represent a senile aberration, except in so far as they were unguarded and that a more alert person would have realized that expressing such ideas in public would be bound to cause revulsion. They look too much like considered opinion of someone who thinks that what he said is perfectly reasonable and the fact that the editors of the NCR did not realize this shows that they, along with him, reflect the mindset of a sick organization.