Priest called victims seducers, apologizes

Sept. 1, 2012 at 1:44 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A U.S. Catholic priest has apologized for saying victims of clergy abuse were seducers and says he did not intend to put blame on victims.

The Rev. Benedict Groeschel of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, in an opinion piece in the National Catholic Register, a conservative publication, said victims of sexual abuse are looking for father figures.

"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to -- a psychopath. But that's not the case," he said. "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."

In an apology posted Thursday on his organization's Web site, Groeschel -- who has worked with priests accused of abuse as head of Trinity Retreat House -- said he regretted "any harm I have caused anyone."

"A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible," he said.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal also apologized, calling Groeschel's characterization of victims as seducers "inappropriate and untrue."

"Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such," the organization said. "We are sorry for any pain his comments may have caused."

The group's apology said Groeschel's "health, memory and cognitive ability" have been fading since he was in a serious car crash seven years ago that put him in a coma for a month.

"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," the statement said.

In the National Catholic Register opinion piece, Groeschel asked why none of the boys abused by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had come forward and said first-time sexual offenders should not get prison sentences.

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