Fr. Benedict Groeschel makes a big mistake . . .

by stating an intelligent statement and a statement of basic Christian compassion in a published article.

The other day, the National Catholic Register published an interview with Fr. Groeschel about the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Unfortunately, due to public backlash, the Register has pulled the article and replaced it with statements from the Register itself, the CFRs and Fr. Groeschel himself, apologizing for the article. The party line is that Groeschel’s comments were the result of senility. I’m sad to hear that.

The original article contained two key points that have garnered attention (amidst a lot of other stuff about his ministry and his Order that have nothing to do with clerical sex abuse).
1) In a statement that has been taken out of context, he noted that the teenagers in these cases are often the “seducers.” Noting that the teenagers in these situations are often psychologically vulnerable themselves, and the priests are often on the verge of breakdowns, the two meet up in a situation of mutual vulnerability and get involved in a relationship that starts out innocent but goes where it shouldn’t. That’s all he said, and I don’t see why that requires clarification or rebuttal, as the Register claims.

The sickos at the Huffington Post–who approve of this behavior if it happens at a gay nightclub–tried to tie this to the Register’s former ownership by the Legion of Christ (the Register is now owned by EWTN). The mainstream media, who normally wouldn’t be bothered to count as news the many wonderful things Fr. Groeschel has done in his life, are in a feeding frenzy–probably to distract from all the minorities speaking at the Republican Convention–and demanding for Fr. Groeschel to be punished.

Yet it baffles me what is wrong with what he said. The vast majority of teen pregnancies involve a teenaged girl with a man over 20. Almost every teen pregnancy is statutory rape, yet Planned Parenthood gets away with ignoring it. Hang around any group of teenaged girls, and you’ll hear talk of their older boyfriends. Hang around any public school, and you’ll see male teachers ogling female students, touching female students inappropriately *in public*, flirting with female students and having long private “counseling sessions” with female students. Yet somehow people insist this is a problem restricted to Catholic priests and resulting from clerical celibacy.

If news hits about a teenaged boy having an affair with an older woman, people say, “Eww” and privately say “Way to go”. Lifetime movies and TV dramas and sitcoms romanticize it. Same with heterosexual relationships between teenaged girls and adult men. In most cultures, 13 or 14, certainly 15, is old enough to marry. Indeed, Canon Law permits marriage within the Church as early as 16. The argument in our culture is that teenagers aren’t “mature enough” to marry, yet these days we have 30-somethings acting like what used to be considered teenagers. And certainly our society now approves of teenagers having sex with each other.

And then we have the Obama administration, with poster feminazi Sandra Fluke, arguing that colleges should be forced to provide birth control for their students, which includes 17 year olds and younger (I was 16 when I started college). We know Obama has talked about providing contraceptives to elementary school students.

It just burns me up that liberals, who endorse just about every form of sexual perversion there is, just jump the bandwagon for any potential “scandal” involving Catholic priests and do everything they can to tear down the Catholic Church–in this case attacking and 80 year old friar who deserves canonization merely for stating the facts he has observed in his professional work dealing with these cases.

When this “Scandal” supposedly broke in 2002, Michael Novak pointed out how the “victim” in one of the cases was 17 years old. Novak observed that he was in the Navy at age 17, and if any man, priest or not, had laid a hand on him at that age, he’d have thrashed him.

And some of the victims in the more prominent cases–such as the cases of Archbishop Weakland and the late Cardinal Bernardin–insisted the relationships were consentual at some level, and they only came back and claimed anything different when the prelate in question spurned them.

In 1998, the news broke (overshadowing JPII’s visit to Cuba) that the president of the United States had had an affair with an intern young enough to be his daughter. The Left, as they did with all Bill Clinton’s affairs, blamed it on Monica Lewinsky.

Yet now Fr. Groeschel is in trouble for “blaming the victim.” Then there’s part two:

2) Fr. Groeschel refers to Jerry Sandusky as “that poor man” and asks why no one turned him in years ago: with the answer that even a lot of parents and victims. The fact that people are outraged by this comment shows what’s wrong with our culture. Jesus said we will be forgiven in proportion to our capacity to forgive. A few years ago, people started attacking theology of the body speaker Christopher West for making a similar statement about Hugh Hefner, even though he was clearly expression compassion for someone who he acknowledged as a sinner but recognized how easily any of us can fall into Hefner’s sins.

This should be a no-brainer. As Leon Bloy famously said, popularized by Jacques Maritain, “There is only one tragedy: not to be a saint.” Jesus told the parable of the unforgiving steward who begged his king to forgive his debt rather than sell him and his family into slavery–a debt that was worth millions of dollars in modern equivalancy–and the king forgave him completely–but then the steward turned around and demanded money from someone who owed him a few hundred dollars, and when he took that man to the authorities, they recognized the accuser as the man the king had just forgiven–and put him in prison “till he paid the last penny.”

The condition of Christian forgiveness is our ability to forgive others.

A trademark of Fr. Groeschel’s ministry has always been his ability to show compassion for sinners–something he often gets criticized for by traditionalists and ultra-conservative Catholics. That’s all he’s doing in regard to Sandusky, and he was trying to answer the rhetorical questions of why no one turned him in: simple answer was that most people didn’t think what he was doing was wrong or illegal. That isn’t a statement of *his* beliefs; it’s a statement of his beliefs about what other people think.

And it just outrages me to see the people who are attacking Fr. Groeschel when they look the other way about Bill Clinton and so much else. It outrages me that a man who could very well be deserving of canonization is being treated this way over comments that were just too nuanced for our sound-bite culture: I’m especially annoyed at how the Register has distanced itself from his comments. What’s next? EWTN cancels _Sunday Night Live_?

And then to see the perverse comments from people calumniating Fr. Groeschel and saying he probably has abused people himself. They know nothing about him! From having had the honor of maing him a few years ago, especially compared to certain other “celebrity priests,” Fr. Groeschel is one of the LAST people in the world I would suspect of doing anything, and I know he makes a point of avoiding the appearance or opportunity of scandal as best as possible for someone whose primary work is psychological and spiritual counseling.
He gets criticized for going into Jewish synagogues and Protestant “churches,” but he goes into them and tells them about the Catholic faith. When he came to Columbia 3 or 4 years ago, for example, he talked about speaking before an audience of Baptists and explaining that Mary is the Mother of God.

It seems from a perusal that all sides are hanging him out to dry. I have only seen one piece defending Fr. Groeschel’s comments, and that’s from the Catholic League. Otherwise, everyone’s saying his comments were inexcusable. I don’t get it.

I don’t get why we have a culture where a 15 year old male is a) given condoms by his teachers, b) exposed to all sorts of sexual temptation on TV, c) encouraged by all parties–often including his parents–to have at it with others his own age–yet suddenly that 15 year old is a “child” if he happens to be molested by a priest. I don’t get how a 15 year old goes to a gay bar and hooks up with a gay man, and that’s “Man-boy love” and heralded by the “Huffington Post” types, but it’s suddenly an unconscionable evil if the other gay party is a Catholic priest.

I’m not saying any of that is right–I find it all equally wrong. But the singling out of Catholic priests is hypocritical, and the attacks on a priest

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5 responses to “Fr. Benedict Groeschel makes a big mistake . . .

  1. Canon law 16?

    I think the latest legislations are 16 for male and 14 for female party of a marriage. Equals age where biologically 95% of each sex is physically mature.

    Earlier it was 14/12. Equals age at which about 50% of each sex is physically mature. Like: if you are still not, it is your responsibility not to marry yet.

    Mental maturity was assumed to go along with most cases of physical maturity. God is not a tempter.

    He does not create us such that for years we are too immature to be able to follow the council “it is better for a man to marry than to burn”, all while physically in that sense burning pretty much. That men as breadwinners are in some lines of business socially forced to wait beyond that is not God’s fault and should not be the Church’s.

    Funnily enough I am a former teacher, I was teaching for one term. During it I restrained as best I could tendencies to falling in love with pupils – till I knew the term would not be renewed. After that I did fall in love with a FORMER pupil aged nearly 14 at the time of my declaration of love. And I would have married her, not abused her, had she said some kind of yes. Seven years later nearly I tried to get in touch with her again – and the other year I tried to get in touch with her via FB.

    And that has upset my life ever since (i e since she was 14), seeing that this hypocrisy is very rampant in Sweden too. I am now out of the country.

    Alas I think some Orthodox Bishops and Monks are abusing their spiritual powers, since by bending to Communism they are now Heterodox on this one.

  2. Exactly. Emotional maturity and even ability to be a bread winner have little to do with sexual maturity. I am a lot more “mature” at 35 than I was at 16 or 22, but that’s *because* of 12 years of marriage.
    As far as your story goes, I think another factor that people need to consider as far as *heterosexual* infatuations is the nature of pheromones and women’s fertility cycles, as I’ve posted about before. I think a lot of confusion, whether same-age or otherwise, would be alleviated if everyone were taught NFP/fertility awareness. I never understood as a teenager and college student why there were girls whom I didn’t otherwise consider mentally or physically attractive, but every now and then I found them irresistible–when I married and learned about NFP and the signals a fertile woman sends out, I understood. When I started teaching, both at the high school and adult levels, and my body would start sending signals about some female student–or colleague–I just told my self, “Oh! She must be ovulating!” And I left it at that.

    Another problem I think is the nature of being “on the hunt.” I was still in graduate school when I married. It took me over a year after marrying to get myself out of the habit of purposely being on the lookout for attractive girls around campus.

    • Mental maturity in question is by St Thomas Aquinas’ account not equal to “emotional maturity” in the sense of near immunity to stupidity, it is more like “knowing one’s taste”.

      Obviously someone who never had the slightest symptom of the physical maturity yet cannot know what it will do to his or her taste about the other sex.

      One year and your wife patient about your being “on the hunt”? Then I think she was very tolerant and hope the other eleven years have been rewarding for her!

  3. Dymphna's Dish-washer

    Anyone with a rightly formed conscience will embrace his statement about Sandusky and likely already thought that he was a “poor man.” He also probably won’t change anyone’s mind that’s already made up. Yes, it’s indicative of our culture to reject what a priest says on this matter, but they’d also reject anything else he’d say on almost any other matter. We’re Christians, and we’ll always be subjected to unfair standards. That said, we shouldn’t ask for any unnecessary suffering, and publishing super-controversial comments without double-checking with him that that’s what he meant (I think you can trust what he said in the apology was true as well) is putting the church and future souls it could rescue in unnecessary danger.

    But go to any public school and you’ll see groping of female students? Don’t think so. That’s an extreme accusation. There exists a problem in public schools too and the double standards are unfair, but without the data to back up those provocative illustrations, it becomes sensationalistic and disingenuous.

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