Noted Franciscan Friar Apologizes For Saying Kids “Seduce” Child Molesters

Father Benedict Groeschel, a familiar name in Catholic media, has apologized for saying child molesters are the prey of their young victims during an interview with the National Catholic Register.

Raw Story had Groeschel’s nauseating original statement:

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to—a psychopath. But that’s not the case,” Groeschel explained. “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.”

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,” he continued.

Groeschel called the abuse “an understandable thing,” and pointed to Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who he called a “poor guy.”

It’s not just that Groeschel,79, is the popular host of the devotional show Sunday Night Prime. He’s a psychologist—and a professor of psychology at the Institute for Psychological Sciences, a Catholic graduate school in Virginia.

At first, Groeschel’s ease in formulating a situation where an adult would be lured by the wiles of a young boy made us ill. (It also reminded us of the right-wing theory that gay men simply crave the love of a father figure.)

Then we read more and got angry:

“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.”

Groeschel pointed out that “sexual difficulties” were rarely prosecuted 10 or 15 years ago, and now if “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,” he added.

After the understandable outcry, the Register took down the interview and replaced it on Thursday with apologies from editor in chief Jeanette R. De Melo, the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and from Groeschel himself.

“My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be,” wrote Groeschel in his mea culpa. “I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.”

The Friars of the Renewal, an order which Groeschel helped found, explained he has been ill:

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. He has been in and out of the hospital. Due to his declining health and inability to care for himself, Fr. Benedict had moved to a location where he could rest and be relieved of his responsibilities.

Although these factors do not excuse his comments, they help us understand how such a compassionate man could have said something so wrong, so insensitive, and so out of character.

Sorry, we’re having trouble buying it.

Groeschel wasn’t incoherent, senile or talking to an empty chair. He was articulating an argument that has been made by molesters—and priests—before.

And if it actually is true that Groeschel’s failing health is to blame for what he said, then why was he giving interviews to the press? Knowing the decades of abuse that has been uncovered—and the lives damaged and destroyed by it—Groeschel shouldn’t be apologizing. He should be donning a hair shirt and flogging himself.

Interesting thing about the Catholic Register: Before it was purchased by the Eternal World Television Network last year, it was owned by the Legion of Christ, an order that has had its own brushes with abuse.

It was founded by Father Marcial Maciel, who, before his death in 2008, sexually abused several female minors and fathered at least three children. (After a decade denying the women’s allegations, the Order acknowledged Maciel had undertaken “reprehensible actions.”)

In recent years, archbishops in Baltimore and Minneapolis have banned the Legion from counseling people under the age of 18 in their districts because of its methods for persuading high-schoolers to accept a priestly vocation.

Does any of this stuff stick to the Church—or is the Vatican made entirely out of Teflon?

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  • Joe Dalmas

    He got struck by a car because he seduced the car into running him over.

  • Neo

    This is the mindset that permeates through the whole church. Sickening, absolutely sickening.

    These people hate our entire community and want us dead yet they rape and molest thousands and thousands of young children every year.

  • MartinDK

    Hmmm i remember being 15 years old and having a crush on my chemistry teacher(!) in high school. If she had not been such an experienced and level-headed person, and had gone for it i might have had sex with her (not that i would have done her a lot of good i expect lol).
    Let us be honest ourselves to facts and accept that teenagers full of hormones and budding sexuality sometimes sexualise the relation to their tutor. This is no excuse to take advantage of the teenagers, The point is that celibacy does make these priests less than level-headed, so they cannot resist or misinterprets the adoration of the youngsters they tutor.
    It is much easier to put a stop to what is an inappropriate sexualisation if you realise that this is what is happening. And also of course if you realise that it is inappropriate because it is a consequence of the tutor relation (like patient who adore their therapist) that it is not real “love”…

  • sandy k

    This explains WHY over the last half century, the Catholic Priesthood has been the source of the WORLD’S LARGEST PEDOPHILE RING in history! It explains the mindset of those TRANSFERING these pedophile Priests from parish to parish (and even nation to nation).
    Not to mention the 25 year official COVER-UP engineered by Pope Ratzinger (who knew of, and covered-up for over a thousand pedophile Priests world-wide, and disregarded many more THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS).
    Don’t even ask for a PHONY apology. This is what the Catholic church heirarchy REALLY believes! The proof is in the pudding. Ratzinger (who should be in jail), got a BIG PROMOTION instead!

  • Neo

    @sandy k: In Ireland the catholic church used to have houses of people who accuse them of child molestation firebombed. They frequently use intimidation and violence to quell the sheer number of cases all over the world.

  • sfbeast

    sounds to me like groeschel is speaking about his past, it’s a little too explicit to be just theory. and i agree with sandy k that the church is a major promoter of child abuse, not to mention bigotry, anti semitism, and violence

  • Eric Auerbach

    That’s interesting and all, but how is this gay news?

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Eric Auerbach: Because, Eric, the Catholic Cult blames the gay community too for their vicitimizing of the children of their flocks.


    That is NOT an apology, it is an “oops, I got caught telling the truth”. They are all sickos, each and every molester and each and every enabler. They are children, for Christ’s sake, not fuck dolls. And these vile monsters, do they really believe that their mumble jumble fools the God they say they believe in? I, for one, hope that they all face the God, God’s wrath, and the Hell they say rule the afterlife.

  • Flaxton9

    You know I’m not sure which is more depressing – the horrible statements made by Father Groeschel or the rabid hate, generalisations, and unsourced accusations directed against Catholics on this page.

  • Eric Auerbach

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: I guess, though it seems like bit of a stretch to me. When I saw this item on the front page, what came to mind was: Is Queerty perpetuating the notion that pedophilia and homosexuality are somehow related? If not, why should an item about pedophilia be of particular interest to the LGBT community?

  • Chris-MI

    @Flaxton9: Catholics as a group are probably not any worse than other people, maybe a little smugger, maybe a little better educated. But what’s clearly true is that the Catholic church created a system that attracted pedophiles and exploiters, announced that their system was better than other moral systems and would lead to less, not more, crime and misery, then went to great lengths to cover up their problems and blame the victims. Even now after they’ve been publicly named and shamed they are still using lame excuses like “no one can be expected to be moral and responsible when confronted with a hormone-charged 14 year old.” Sorry, but all of us normal people are expected to pull that one off and we expect our moral leaders to do at least as well.

    @Eric Auerbach–the church has consistently claimed that the problem is gay priests because a disproportionate number of victims were male and a high percentage of the victims were post-pubescent. It’s not of course, the problem is a system that attracts and supports the sort of person who is not morally repulsed by the idea of screwing a fifteen year old, with or without pubic hair.

  • PTBoat

    @MartinDK: Let us be honest with ourselves and remember that this man has spewed vitriol toward that LGBT community for a long time and has yet to apologize for that. He’s dangerously insane.

  • Dan Avery

    The relevance of this story is that Groeschel is, in essence, saying that normal adults are being seduced by gay youth into molestation. He didn’t spell it out but if you look at his words in the context of how ant-gay people think gay men are “made,” it’s not a leap in logic. It’s also, as some have noted here, another example of the moral bankruptcy of a hierarchy that continues to claim homosexuality is immoral.

  • Peter

    Of course some gay teenage boys try and seduce adult men. And some don’t want to take no for an answer. I prefer adult men my own age, so I’ve never had a problem with that.

  • Peter

    When I was a teenage boy, I was hard up and horny for mature adult men, and I didn’t have the common sense to realize that my uncle/coach/teacher/family doctor would go to prison if they got caught having sex with me. I m sure I wasnt the only one trying to get fucked by some sexy, masculine adult man. The truth hurts, but there you have it. It’s funny how some gay teen boys, instead of fucking each other’s hot bodies, are always desperately looking for an older daddy. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  • MartinDK

    @PTBoat: Sure its ok to bed mad at him. My point is just that if we do not recognize what is happening then it will be much harder to put put a stop to it. Some celibate catholic priests are definite going out of their mind with sexual desire. It is an established fact. It is also not uncommon for youngsters to “adore” those who tutor them. They may sexualise this adoration. Children play sexually charged games too, doctor games and whatever.
    This does NOT make youngsters or children proper objects for adult sexual expression, and it helps you deal with those situations as an adult when you know what is going on, and that it is a function of the position of the teacher/mentor/therapist. So i just thought it might be stupid to deny that teenagers can play up to adults…

    The conclusion this “psychologist” priest draws is of course wrong, that the sheep are to blame when the shepherd has sex with them… Its the shepherd who ought to know better

  • kevininbuffalo

    I’m amazed that no one here seems to know that Groeschel was one of the founders of Courage. Courage promotes chastity among Gays. The late Cardinal Cooke, who always struck me as being Gay, asked Groeschel to do something to help homosexuals. Groeschel contacted
    Fr. John Harvey and together they set up Courage.
    I belonged to the online group of Courage back in my self loathing days. Very bleak. Most of the boys were pious old ladies who only wanted to talk about holy hours, communions of reparation and the like. Of course you couldn’t talk about anything else. Any actual talk about s-e-x was verboten,masturbation was M, Gay was ssa. Though if you talked to anybody outside the group you could get into some really hot stuff.

  • tdx3fan

    He needs to lose his accreditation as a psychologist over this. When an average idiot (even an average religious idiot) spouts this nonsense then they are just being an idiot. When a psychologist spouts this nonsense, people think of him/her as a psychologist and there is some weight to that.

    I have no doubt the man is sick. How many boys has he personally played with that we do not know about yet?

  • tdx3fan

    @Flaxton9: None of it is directed at Catholic people. It is all directed at the Catholic establishment, and if you want a source then look at the facts. The facts are that priests molested young boys, those same priests were discovered by the church and instead of being turned out and reported were relocated to a new assignment where they molested even more young boys. This was all covered up in a huge conspiracy that was led by the current Pope. If you have a problem with that then you have a problem with facts in general.

    However, this is not an insult to the American Catholic Church that is doing its best to clean out its own priesthood and is taking a stance against bigoted Bishops and the Pope. The women (nuns/sisters) of the Catholic Church in the United States are currently under attack from the Pope for being to liberal because they think the mission of the church should be to follow the commandments of Jesus instead of covering up pedophile rings and attacking minorities.

  • Eric Auerbach

    @Dan Avery: Thanks, Dan. I appreciate the clarification.

  • davros

    just as Tiffany implied I’m stunned that some one able to get paid $5098 in one month on the computer. have you seen this web link N u T t y R i C h d o t c o m

  • Flaxton9

    tdx3fan: thanks for your response. The Franciscan brothers (not Groeschel’s spin off group) have issued a letter supporting the sisters. As far as unsourced accusations I was referring mainly to the hysterically hyperbolic fabrications of Neo who states the entire Catholic Church “wants us dead” that “thousands and thousands and thousands” of children of children are raped every year (according to the Washington Post 95 percent of the cases happened prior to 1990, leaving 600 cases in the last 22 years averaging to 27 per year – though hopefully decreasing annually as the older generation ages. Bad enough, but for only 27 to be reported amongst ‘thousands and thousands’ would require a conspiracy beyond belief). Neo’s talk of the Church firebombing the houses of abusers is almost too absurd to comment on and is not supported by anything on the web, not even in anti-popery conspiracy theory loony-land.

    Look, the truth is sad enough – you don’t need to make up stuff. To put it mildly if the LGBT community wants to be treated fairly then it has to treat other communities (including the Catholic one fairly as well.

    There are many gay Catholics out there (check out It’s not hard to be a gay Catholic because usually nothing is said negatively about gay people or gay relationships at a below bishop/parish level. Even the letter ‘In defence of marriage’ that was supposed to be read at all masses wasn’t read in my Church. In London where I live there are Archbishop approved ‘gay masses’ in Soho. Churches have not taken up collections to support the cause against gay marriage, and in some areas such ‘political’ (including anti-gay marriage) collections have been prohibited (as in Washington State USA). Catholics are more in support of gay marriage than members of other faiths and the general population as a who (I don’t have a link, but it’s easy to google).

    Davros: priests brothers and sisters in religious orders (friars, monks and sisters) take a vow of poverty, receive no salary at all and are required to live simply (I stayed at a friary for a time and found this to be carried out). Groeschel’s Order, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal is especially severe in this regard.

  • Flaxton9

    Correction: “Neo’s talk of the Church firebombing the houses of abusers” – I meant, to properly quote Neo, the houses of ‘accusors.’ not ‘abusors’

  • Flaxton9

    Correction 2: I meant that Catholics are more oin support of gay marriage than the general population as a WHOLE. Source: quoted and referenced in wiki: “Catholic support of gay rights is thus higher than that of other Christian groups and of the general population.”

  • BostonLesbian

    When I was much younger I was a conservative catholic nun in an order loosely associated with Grosechel’s order. I’m now a married lesbian and no longer catholic. I think his statement is appalling!!! Groeschel was very conservative and demanded terrible austerity of his brothers in the order. It was a very difficult place to be. Still I can’t imagine him saying that ever, defending that. I think he is senile or insane now. In my time in religious life I saw a number of people that were needed mental help, even people in charge. I saw nuns who practiced self harm because they found the life too difficult and unnatural. One used to hit her head against the wall. Oh how the Catholic church and the denial of sexuality and the unnatural nature of religious life damages people! I’m glad I escaped when I did!

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