Skip to comments.Statement of Michael P. Warsaw...regarding Father Benedict Groeschel: (CATHOLIC CAUCUS)
Posted on 09/08/2012 5:57:38 AM PDT by markomalley
The recent comments regarding clerical sexual abuse of minors made by Father Benedict Groeschel to a news editor of the National Catholic Register should never have been published. In no way do those comments reflect the views of the Register or EWTN. It should have been obvious to the editor that Father Benedict's physical condition and mental clarity have deteriorated and that the comments were completely inconsistent with his life's work and witness. We apologize that these remarks were published and ask for forgiveness for this error.
To regular viewers of EWTN, it has been evident for some time that Father Benedict's health has been declining. For more than a year, the Network has been in discussions with both Father and his Community about his capacity to continue hosting Sunday Night Prime. This is the reason that the program moved from a live to a pre-recorded format last year. In more recent months Father Benedict's decline has accelerated. After consultation with EWTN and the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Father Benedict has decided that it is now time to step away from the program. The Sunday Night Prime program will continue and will be hosted by other priests of the CFR community.
Father Benedict has led a life of tremendous compassion and service to others and his spiritual insights have been a great gift to the EWTN family for many years. We are profoundly grateful to him and assure him of our prayers. At the same time, we ask our EWTN family to pray for all those who have been affected by this painful situation and in particular those who have been victims of sexual abuse.
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Full title: Statement of Michael P. Warsaw, President and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network regarding Father Benedict Groeschel:
Statement from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (Fr Benedict's order):
The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sincerely apologizes for the comments made by Fr. Benedict Groeschel in an interview released yesterday by the National Catholic Register, online edition.In that interview, Fr. Benedict made comments that were inappropriate and untrue. A child is never responsible for abuse. Any abuser of a child is always responsible, especially a priest. Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such. We are sorry for any pain his comments may have caused. Fr. Benedict has dedicated his life to helping others and these comments were completely out of character. He never intended to excuse abuse or implicate the victims. We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done in housing countless homeless people, feeding innumerable poor families, and bringing healing, peace and encouragement to so many.
Fr Benedict helped found our community 25 years ago with the hope of bringing the healing peace of Jesus Christ to our wounded world. Our desire has always been to lift up humanity and never to hurt. 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. Our prayers are with all those who have been hurt by his comments, especially victims of sexual abuse.
Personal Statement from Fr Benedict Groeschel:
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.
It's fully understandable that he should retire.
What I don't understand, though, is the subsequent (unpublished) actions of EWTN. If you take a look at their website, you will find virtually every reference to Fr. Groeschel has been eliminated. All of the television series he has done are now gone from their libraries. All of his appearances on other series...gone. His shows on YouTube...gone. Almost like they are trying to erase his memory completely (with the exception of this statement).
I may not have agreed with Fr. Groeschel on everything, but he had some really good stuff out there. His recent, fully recanted, statement, does not negate that good.
That is a very disturbing thing that EWTN does: if a host gets in trouble, they quickly turn that host into a complete un-person. This is not the first time they've done it. I recall them doing that with Fr Francis Mary and, of course, they did it with Fr Corapi. And this. (I would imagine that there are more, but these are the ones I recall). Why is that?
At that mass the most amazing thing occured. A dear friend lost a grandson to SIDS that morning. We made no plans to attend the mass together but she showed up, out of the blue, and sat with me. Fr. Groeschel began his homily, with tremendous difficulty, about the little children that die and go to Heaven. He then turned and looked straight at the two of us with a smile and a twinkle in his eye! (BTW, I had lost a 10-year old son two years prior to this mass). Mind you, this is a VERY large church and we were off to the side so he had to make an effort to look our way.
...so much for our ‘forgiving’ church supporting institutions.
People should defend their socially unacceptable words not be ostracized. That’s the concluding result of the Communist inspired ‘political correctness’ that’s has successfully side stepped our once heralded ‘free speech’.
It may have only been those three. I don't know 100%
And what constitutes "trouble?"
In the case of Fr. Francis, he got involved with a woman and left the priesthood.
We all know about Fr. Corapi.
And in the case of Fr. Groschel, he made this one statement.
Before this, it looked like there was a high threshold, but apparently, it seems like the threshold has been moved pretty low.
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I absolutely agree. It would be consistent with the postulation of inability to communicate in the NCR case to remove the offending interview and leave Fr. Groeschel legacy intact.
I further think that Fr. Groeschel's statements are true at their core and everyone knows it. Obviously a "child" cannot seduce anyone but a minor -- the language Fr. Groeschel actually used -- can. With a life time experience in psychology and a Ph. D. in that field (correct me if I am wrong) Fr. Groeschel is qualified better than anyone to speak on that. In a circumstance of seduction, the responsibility of the adult is not diminished, but the likelihood of re-offense is nearly nil, and therefore at least some of the actions of the Church in the past where priests were removed from the particular setting of the abuse, but not from the ministry overall were just.
Fr. Groeschel did one more service to the Church, knowing, of course that his name and his memory would be maligned by the cowards in that very Church. God bless him, the treasure is his in Heaven.
What Fr Groeschel said was imprudent, ill considered, and damaging to all concerned. It matters not whether his comments reflect his true mind or whether age and infirmity led him disastrously astray. If he can no longer be trusted on camera, it’s time for him to retire. In no way is this a moral judgment on Fr Groeschel. I suspect he agrees with this decision and is at peace with it.
it is fully understandable that he should retire, yes, but due to his health and NOT due to the statement he made ...
He clarified his statement and that should have been that.
A man who has given his life to God, and to helping so many people.. should be allowed to continue his ministry .. at least for a little while until he could just bow out or retire gracefully with dignity. This would have shown some class, or Christian charity. How would that have hurt ESPN?
ps: Does anyone know Fr. G’s address ( we would like to send him a little Thank You card for all his wonderful TV programs). Thank you very much....
Fr. Benedict Groeschel is a great and holy man. And this statement by EWTN recognizes that he is a great man, who unfortunately is starting to get senile.
As for his statement, it probably is true that many of those affairs between priests and others were initiated by the others. I have no idea what the percentages might be, because I don’t think anyone has ever examined the question. But, of course, it doesn’t matter if the other guy makes the first move. A priest or a married person is obliged to resist and decline it. In other words, the question really has little bearing on these priestly sins.
Even in his best days, Fr. Groeschel was getting old and fragile. Evidently he lost it for once. Not for speaking an untruth—that the victims sometimes started these affairs—but for failing to make the moral point clearly.
I think that’s a good idea. I’m going to write to him, too. You can find contact info on the website of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I feel terrible about this whole thing, but it has been painful to watch him since his stroke. He should have retired then and this wouldn’t have happened. It is so sad that a lifetime of good has been wiped away by an unfortunate statement by an old man who has not been able to communicate well for the past few years...heartbreaking actually.
I always enjoyed his show, and it’s too bad it has been taken off the air, but perhaps reruns will be shown again in the future, after all the brouhaha dies down.
Fr. Groeschel had interesting guests, and the conversation was always respectful.In watching his program, I found out about Father Solanus Casey, and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s magnificent painting, “The Annunciation”.
Fr. Groeschel must be heartbroken about the whole thing. God Bless him, and may he find peace!
I’m not convinced that the good Father actually said all of that stuff. I wonder how much was said and how much was extrapolated.
Unfortunately, Fr. Groeschel was a psychologist and was involved in the “treatment” of at least one of the particularly notorious abusers, whom he diagnosed as being an alcoholic rather than a pedophile (even though there were something like 10 complaints against him). After the man received that “diagnosis,” he was placed in a parish again, molested another boy, and then was finally removed by his bishop.
Fr. Groeschel did some great work, and his founding of the order is probably the best of it, but the problem was that in his early career, he (like most Catholics and non-Catholics at that time, in the 1970s) accepted a lot of “junk psychology” and abandoned Catholic moral theology.
The change in the Church from a moral/ethical based view of this to a psychologist’s view was really what permitted these molesters to go on doing what they were doing.
There are definitely young people who have learned how to get ahead by being seductive, usually because they had already been molested by someone else. I worked in a place with a lot of troubled youth in the 1970s and there were a lot of these kids, mostly runaways - including pre-teens and early teens - who seemed to come on to anybody who passed through, because they had learned that this was how they could survive.
But that does not excuse anybody who took them up on the offer, clergy or not. Priests and people in the “helping professions” are going to meet disturbed individuals all the time, and that doesn’t excuse them.
I’m mentioning this because I think more will come out (not about Fr.Groeschel personally, but about different cases he was connected with during a particularly bad time) and I think we have to be prepared in advance.
That means not defending the indefensible, realizing that people are limited by their times and training and then can change (in the last 30 years, he has always been very good and firm in his attitude towards corrupt priests), and that he’s an old man with a head injury who probably, hearing the hurrying feet of time, is unconsciously trying to justify things he said or did decades ago.
I don’t quite agree with you or most of Fr. Groeschel critics.
I can agree that his interview was “imprudent” or even in some way “damaging”; whether it is ill-considered depends on if by that you mean “spoken without anticipation of incoming criticism”; if so, then that it was too.
I certainly like it better with the subsequent clarification that the responsibility in all cases rests with the adult and the minor remains a victim and therefore must not be blamed. With that addition his statements are, at worst, undiplomatic.
However, it was also good to say that which he said, because not only the anti-Catholics of whom we don’t expect much, but solid people have lost all sense of balance in this matter.
That the hyenas at Huffington Post would make the habitual howls must not be a determinant in what Catholic say or don’t say. For the post-Neanderthal segment of humanity Fr. Groeschel made a useful reminder: that when the Church is summarily accused of past hiding abusive priests, such accusation is not done in good faith: individual circumstances vary; 14-16 year old minor is well capable of seductive behavior and priest is an extremely stressful job, quite apart from its sacramental nature. I have no difficulty imagining a priest who falls prey to confusion, does nothing violent in any case, is truly repentant and has zero probability of re-offending again. Such case must be distinguished form the comic-books image of an evil sexual predator that has been deliberately built in the press. I am sure some of them were just that; maybe most of them were, — but not all of them.
I have called here at FR of the Holy Inquisition being set in the US: I am all for severest punishment in both ecclesial and secular courts of sexual crime. But punishment in order to be just must take into account the circumstance and the character of the convicted priest, like in case of any human being.
I think, Fr. Groeschel’s remarks were a necessary truth spoken a bit clumsily but with the weight of a Ph.D in psychology and decades of work in the field, and I am thankful for them.