Skip to comments.Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Response to Brooks Egerton’s March 2, 2003 Article n Dallas Morning News
Posted on 03/06/2003 8:29:10 AM PST by Polycarp
Response to Brooks Egertons Article of March 2, 2003 in the Dallas Morning News
The headline of this article claiming that I played down the abuse crisis is an absolute untruth. Anyone reading my books or listening to my talks on this subject knows that this is utterly untrue, that it is a smear.
I must respond carefully to the rest of Egertons article because of professional confidentiality. I cannot even acknowledge that I spoke to certain people because of their right to privacy.
A few obvious points:
Egerton says that according to me the sexual abuse scandal is largely the stuff of fiction. Any honest person reading my book From Scandal to Hope (Our Sunday Visitor Press 2002) will see that this is a complete distortion, an almost incredible denial of what my book is about. I do stand by my statement that the secular media have taken the scandal out of proportion, ignored many charges of abuse of minors and committed by others in professional roles, created the impression that this is only a problem of Catholic clergy. Writers as varied as George Weigel, Philip Jenkins, Andrew Greeley, Richard Neauhaus and Peter Steinfels have all been critical of the media coverage of these scandals.
I agree with the assessment of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals on this issue:
In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated and that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion. Cardinal Ratzinger characterizes the media coverage as a planned campaign.
A number of factual distortions should be indicated. Egerton mentions that 85 priests have returned to the active ministry through Trinity Retreat, implying that some of these priests had difficulties with minors. These were priests on leaves of absence, not priests who had been accused of any misbehavior at all.
I have not been the director of Trinity Retreat for ten years. This retreat for priests has never has been referred to before as a mansion. In fact, I dont even live in the building, I have lived for years in the garage.
I did not decline to be interviewed. I never spoke to Mr. Egerton because I was not at home when he called. After this article I am grateful to God I did not talk to him.
Fr. Richard Brown never assisted in the management of Trinity Retreat. He did typing and recorded reservations for priests coming on retreat. He lived a most prayerful and ascetical life while here and he had done so for many years before as many people have said. He did no pastoral work in the New York Archdiocese, nor did anyone ever request permission for him to do so.
I cannot comment on the allegations of the representative of the Paterson Diocese, except to say that my role is significantly misrepresented. I have requested a formal clarification.
I can say Morgan Kuhl never received any treatment from me and was in fact directly enrolled in a formal treatment program elsewhere. We provided a supervised residence, which the court agreed to continue.
As to the issue of my not having a license: a Doctor of Psychology does not need a license unless he is receiving third part payments for instance from an insurance company or an agency. I never intended to receive any pay doing psychological counseling or spiritual direction, so I never bothered about a license. In fact I have never been paid a cent for my services that Mr. Egerton refers to as business. It is not uncommon for professors of psychology not to obtain licenses to practice, because clinical practice is not our principal vocation.
I stand by what I have written in From Scandal to Hope.
Mr. Egertons article is a prime example of the hostility, distortion and planned attack on the Catholic Church in the United States by certain segments of the media.
I also wish to acknowledge the support and encouragement of countless numbers of people whom I meet in my preaching travels and who only recognize me as a Catholic priest and religious. People when they warmly greet me they are at least four times more friendly than they were two years ago. The American people have a sense of fair play and many of them, including many clergymen of other denominations have indicated to me that they believe Catholic priests are being victimized by an abuse of the power of the media.
Of course I will keep Mr. Egerton in my prayers for himself and his personal intentions. This is required by the gospel. Hes also done me a favor proving the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In the Sermon On The Mount, (Matthew 5:11) Jesus reassures us when He says, Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is very great in heaven.
Well, it appears that Groeschel's compassion did evolve, though it is puzzling to me why a psychologist would not know that sexual abuse was hurtful to the victim and would generate a great deal of anger.
I would think that being a Catholic priest who had interaction with an alcoholic priest who abused a child in the past and who was truly, honestly repentant and then meeting the victim later (after knowing the priest) would be torn with sympathy for both... you know, the forgiveness thing with us. However, the forgiveness cannot be given to the abusing priest by anyone except the abuse victim.
It would be a hard line to walk - I couldn't do it. However, with additional years of experience, Fr. G. now understands the victims and the anger they have within them. Which is something that I am working on at times --- it's hard to have a lot of sympathy for folks who yell and scream obscenities at you (and your children) when you are trying to enter a church in order to attend Mass. This happens in one particular parish here week after week. Even with Cardinal Law gone. They still verbally abuse and intimidate parishioners who had nothing to do with any of this. In fact, it happened again yesterday at the Lenten Mass. Two dozen protesters outside yelling and screaming and two inside --- stood up and faced backwards while the new bishop gave his homily and when the bishop was done, they left. Tripped leaving the pew, though.
Is this VOTF? That kind of stuff is ridiculous. As you say, the parishioners had nothing to do with what Law did, and Law's gone anyway.
They're not going to gain any additional converts with tactics like this.
They don't like the interim bishop, Archbishop Lennon because he hasn't aquiesed to their wishes. First they were almost obsequious to him and now, a few months later, since he hasn't given them carte blanche, they are excoriating him.
Here's one of the e-mails from VOTF to other VOTF members:
* Why don't we combine an action at each of Lennon's regional meetings with Mike's idea of a weekly theme? I think we want to be in his face at those regional things, and having a theme each week will give the press something more interesting to cover than the repetitive goings-on inside. I also think we should have a few people inside, in case the format allows us to get near a mike.
* I like the chancery action because it reminds me of Steve Lynch's 40 days, and it also brings us into Lennon's neighborhood. But I think we should do something secular, not churchy. I think each week at the chancery could be coordinated with Mike's idea of a theme.
* Note that Lennon opens his "Lenten Program -- Towards Healing and Holiness" ("initiative" is the Globe's word, not Lennon's) on Ash Wednesday at noon and ends it on 4/17 at 1:00, both at the Cathedral. I think we should there for both.
* Good Friday among Catholics is often marked by Stations of the Cross. Why don't we hire a bus (or do a motorcade) and have a Survivors' Stations, going to 14 scenes of abuse all over Boston, with reporters invited along and media opportunities, ending with a press conference in front of the chancery?
* Since VOTF Central hasn't reacted, is it time to put individual activist VOTF groups like Mike's and Steve's in the media contacts? In the "Why" section, bring the SNAP item up in the list, and say "VOTF members," not "VOTF."
A ridiculous overstatement.
It is an overstatement. But you are the one covering up your own words. In post 27, you said ``The media has "distorted" nothing..'' You said it.
Nick, I have a hard time following your thought processes some times.
I'm not "beating up" on anybody. I just want everybody to be up front, take responsibility, stop placing blame.
I don't disagree with Fr. Groeschel. But he comes across as very naive in his rebuttal letter. A priest his age has seen everything and knows what's going on.
Enough of the "I just didn't know" nonsense.
I have heard Michael Savage say the same thing on several occasions.
This is the stupidest part of this whole scandal, to me.
Paedophiles and Pederasts DON'T just stop "working with minors." You might as well ask a mongoose to leave the snakes alone.
These people are SICK. They are COMPULSIVE and they WILL be compelled to seek out these children even if they have to do it clandestinely.
The only thing to do is REMOVE THEM FROM ANY POSSIBILITY OF CONTACT.
To me, the R/C hierarchy is, at the very least, guilty of gross stupidity in the handling of these people.
Do you REALLY not understand that the REAL scandal here is NOT that a few priests were "bad apples," but that the hierarchy continued to cover for them, move them from one assignment to another without dealing with them as they should have, and attempted to cover everything up and deny everything.
Even now, they seem far more concerned about their "fraternity brothers" than they do the victims of the abuse.
So yes, you're right: Probably 1%, maybe LESS. But how many times were each of those individuals allowed to continue their outrages while the hierarchy covered for them, hoping they could figure out how to "make them change" next time?
How many times were laws broken when these people weren't turned over to the authorities as the law requires?
It is not a minor point that the focus has been on people like Cardinal Law, rather than the perps themselves.
I know you don't like me, and I'm growing to despise you.
So, before I come to hate you completely, I'm putting you on ignore.
Civility is not in you.
These goofballs, VOTF, aren't Catholic and no Catholic bishop should recognize them as being so.