"In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that teens act as seducers in some sexual abuse cases involving priests.
It's been close to a decade since an investigation into clergy sex abuse cases by The Boston Globe unearthed a shocking scandal and cover-up that rocked the foundations of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and around the world.
Ten years may have passed, but the wounds have yet to fully heal in America, especially in light of the recent Penn State allegations, as well as the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In light of this, the recent comments by Groeschel seem both puzzling and jarringly out of step with current sentiments.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register posted this week, Groeschel was asked about his work with the very conservative Friars of the Renewal, a breakaway order he founded 25 years ago. The conversation took an interesting turn, however, when the editor asked about the 78-year-old's work with sexual abuse perpetrators.
"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath," Groeschel said. "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."
Pressed for clarification, the New York State-based religious leader explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill an emotional hole in their lives."
"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..."
Clarification: Information has been added to the article to indicate that the Legion of Christ is no longer an owner of the publication.