This past week, the Catholic church was scandalized when a prominent friar was quoted as saying that victims of sex abuse are sometimes to blame for the abuse they suffer at the hands of first-time offending priests. He even said he felt sorry for Jerry Sandusky.
CNN excerpts two of Rev. Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of Renewel’s statements:
“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,” he said.
Regarding Sandusky, the Friar said:
“Here’s this poor guy – 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.”
Now, Groeschel clarifies that he did not intend to blame the victims, and the National Catholic Register also issued an apology for printing such damaging statements.
“Child sexual abuse is never excusable,” the newspaper said in a statement. “The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
What do you think the newspaper should have done with Groeschel’s statements? What should be done with Groeschel now? Is there a way in which it’s better to have Groeschel put this twisted, faulted logic of victim-blaming out in the public so that it can be challenged and dismantled?