his exact words:
"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to [commit child molestation] — 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.
"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.
"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 their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime."
The National Catholic Register was negligent in its duty to the victims of pedophile priests by printing the offensive interview. To their credit, they have now removed the interview and posted the following in its place:
Child sexual abuse is never excusable. 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. 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.
And Father Groeschel has also reacted to the firestorm created by his ridiculous remarks. He has issued the following apology:
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.
Frankly, I am shocked that such a statement was ever issued or printed. Anyone with half a brain and an ounce of decency knows that the victims of sex abuse are never at fault. Even if they were the seducers (which I severely doubt), the adult is still at fault. The adult is ALWAYS at fault, and should be punished. But these kind of remarks are indicative of a bigger problem.
Far too often in our society (where the vast majority are religious adherents) we give too much leeway to religious figures. They are placed on a pedestal, and it is assumed that they could not have the same faults as other humans because they claim to speak for god -- a claim that is usually taken for granted and not examined too closely. And this problem is not just with the catholic church. Anyone who has been paying attention in the last few years, will know that many protestant ministers and preachers have also been guilty of inappropriate (and many times illegal) sexual contact with people, both children and adults, in their congregation.
It is time to take religious officials off their pedestal, and realize they are just human beings (that have the same range of faults as all other people). Many are deserving of respect, but many are not. But none should be put on a pedestal and thought to be immune from human mistakes and faults. And none should be excused from their mistakes simply because they claim to represent god.