If you are a rape apologist, you know you crossed the line when other rape apologists and deniers call you out. Last week, Father Benedict Groeschel graced us with a brilliant piece of utter stupidity. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, he stated:
[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.
[Interviewer]: Why would that be?
[Father Greoschel]: Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.
It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.
But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?
Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. 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.
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. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.
I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.
At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done. And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.
The National Catholic Register has removed the interview, replacing it with a statement condemning child abuse and Father Groeschel. My favorite part of their response is this:
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. We have removed the story. We have sought clarification from Father Benedict.
What magazine does not check the interviews before they publish them?
Much like what happened with Todd Akin, it appears that after Groeschel made an ass of himself, the interviewer did not question what he said. How do you let something as insidious as “a lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer” slide?
Let us set aside the absurdity of children being seducers for a moment, and ask a basic question. The vast majority of the victims of priests are boys, and most of those boys are heterosexual. How many heterosexual boys do you know try to seduce 50-year-old priests? Better yet, how many boys, gay or straight, want to have a “romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse” relationship with their father or father-like figure?
A better question: since when is a first-time offense a license to walk? What if the first-time offense was violent? What if it was prolonged? What if it is the only offense one has evidence for, but not the only offense that ever occurred? And since when is not intending to commit an act that even toddlers know is a crime a reason to let someone off?
Much like with Todd Akin’s statement, nothing that Groeschel said is unusual. There are plenty of people who think like he does. They simply have the sense not to say it in an interview. Of course, Groeschel clarified what he actually meant:
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.
Sorry, but I am not buying it. It looks very much like Groeschel knew exactly what he was saying. The man presents an argument, challenges the obvious counter to the argument, and then defends his original point. No one who has lost grasp of expressing themselves could do that.
So let us cut the bullshit for a minute, Father. You said something you did not think anyone would question because that is the kind of nonsense you say around other priests. You meant what you said. Do not cop out just because you got called out on your utter stupidity. It is what Jesus would do.