Because of the controversy it sparked, his interview (sadly) is no longer available, but the url now features a statement by the newspaper, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, an amazing religious order Fr. Groeschel not only belongs to, but helped to found, and a humble statement from this humble friar, priest/psychologist:
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 anyoneThe reason I wrote that it is sad the interview was taken down is because now people cannot judge for themselves, but are at the mercy(lessness?) of commentators to make a judgment. I understand that this does nothing to diminish the pain and broken-ness, the heartbreaking loss of innocence, experienced by those who suffered abuse, especially at the hands of a priest or religious. We all do well to tread lightly when discussing this deeply disturbing issue.
I don't have anything terribly insightful to add, or new to say. I do want to publicly express how much I love Fr. Groeschel, express my appreciation for his amazing ministry and that of his wonderful friars, and assure him of my prayers. I echo the sentiments of Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who put it plainly by situating his remarks in context:
In a recent interview, [Fr. Groeschel] hypothesized how a young person (14, 16 or 18, as he put it) could conceivably take advantage of a priest who was having a nervous breakdown. He also referred to Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced Penn State football coach, as “this poor guy.” For these remarks, and related comments, he is now being labeled as a defender of child abuse.Have we really reached the point that a priest cannot publicly express a little compassion for a person, like Sandusky, who has done something egregious without being accused of blessing his sins? If so, we're in worse shape than I thought.
The accusation is scurrilous. In the same interview, Groeschel emphatically said that priests who are sexual abusers “have to leave.” His reference to Sandusky was exactly the way a priest-psychologist might be expected to speak: “poor guy” conveys sympathy for his maladies—it is not a defense of his behavior! Indeed, Groeschel asked, “Why didn’t anyone say anything?”
I stand with Mark Shea, who, on his blog, Catholic and Enjoying It, wrote:
All I know of the man is that he has lived a lifetime of compassion for the weak, of charity, mercy, fidelity, and holiness. I pray for him in this hour of terrible trial and thank him for his life of goodness to so many people as I thank God for the gift of Fr. Benedict. May God bless him through Jesus Christ our Lord. Mother Mary, pray for your son Benedict.