Prominent priest, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, blames sex victims, says first-time abusers shouldn’t face jail

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RNS photo courtesy Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

RNS photo courtesy Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

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NEW YORK (RNS) The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a prominent author and speaker who is especially popular with conservative Catholics and bishops, has sparked outrage by saying that priests who sexually abuse children "on their first offense" should not go to jail. He added that in “a lot of cases” the child is “the seducer.” By David Gibson and Daniel Burke.

  • Todd Flowerday

    There always some hope that some good can come out of this. Perhaps the NCReg will help put to rest the myth that the so-called conservatives, traditionalists, and “orthodox” are somehow more moral than liberals, progressives, and envelope-pushers. That permissiveness is somehow a fault exclusively of the Left.

    It points to the problem that nearly all human beings have of an exaggerated sympathy for “people like me” and a more critical eye and intolerance to “people not like me.” It’s a special problem for celebrities, bishops, and people who choose to insulate themselves in leadership. Bishops, especially might get the message that its healthier to surround themselves with people who disagree with them, who will shake up that tendency to ideological narcissism.

    I don’t think Fr Groeschel is a bad man for uttering the sentiments he did. He clearly indentifies more closely with clergy rather than with victims. But he’s not unlike a lot of people who find safety in congregating with people like himself.

  • John Bernadyn

    *I once had a lot of respect for Fr. Groeschel until I learned of this. Shame on him!

    Memoir Details Sexual Assault by Defrocked Clergy Member

    (CHICAGO) – In a newly released memoir, Betrayed By The State: A Ward of the State Speaks Out, Illinois-based author John Bernadyn describes his struggle growing up as a youth ward of the state. “My goal is to get the word out that youth are experiencing struggles that even grown-ups are unable to cope with,” Bernadyn said.
    After detailing, often graphically, a troubled childhood experience with a dysfunctional home, Bernadyn spends time discussing his experience being sexually assaulted in a state facility. He alleges that the perpetrator was John Woulfe, a former religious brother as part of the Marianists.
    Bernadyn doesn’t stop there, though. In Chapter 8 of his book, what can only be described as heart-wrenching and graphically depicted, he lays a visual and emotional scene for the reader as to his experiences.
    After being removed from the Marianist order because of allegations of sexual assaults by numerous young men at a school overseen by Woulfe he relocated to the small town of Onarga, Illinois. As the Catholic Church historically did not publicize or pursue justice for victims of clergymen, Woulfe was never formally charged with a crime. He was able to secure employment working with troubled teenagers after passing the state-required criminal background check. This is where Bernadyn would come in to contact with the man he would later refer to as a ‘monster’.
    Although Bernadyn left the facility prior to Woulfe’s departure, he would later learn that Woulfe was given the opportunity to be a school counselor in the Kankakee, Illinois area where he would once again victimize another youth. It would be no small consolation to learn of Woulfe’s failing health and residence in a nursing home.
    Woulfe had already died and Bernadyn felt robbed of the chance to say, “I forgive you but I will never forget.”
    John Bernadyn is the managing partner for United Advocacy Group, Inc., lectures widely throughout the country, and manages training and strategic planning for healthcare organizations.