Father Groeschel being seduced? (photo: patsw / flickr)

When I write blog posts, I usually try to stay away from certain hot button issues. I try to write about things that have a somewhat global impact such as the (execrable) state of the economy. But every now and again, I see an article or series of articles where the claims made are so egregious and the conduct so reprehensible, that I have to respond, even if it means burning a bridge. An example of this is this diary I wrote over at MyFDL 2 1/2 years ago after the Archdiocese of Denver banned a child from enrolling in one of their schools because his parents were lesbians.

Today, I have had another one of those moments when I saw this article from Huffington Post. The headline alone was enough to cause my blood pressure to spike:

Father Benedict Groeschel, American Friar, Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse Cases

WHAT THE FCK?!?!? How do we even respond to shite of this nature? This goes way beyond “blame the victim.” The HuffPo article quotes from the original article at National Catholic Register but it appears the original has been taken down. The link in the HuffPo article now goes to a dead comments page and though a search on the NCR site looks to bring up the original interview, clicking the links also goes to the same dead comments page.

Even without the original, just the pieces that HuffPo has, has me shaking I am so angry:

Pressed for clarification, the New York State-based religious leader explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill an emotional hole in their lives.

Furthermore, Groeschel expressed a belief that most of these “relationships” are heterosexual in nature, and that historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes.

“If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way… And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest's] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”

What fucking universe does this man inhabit? “Their intention was not committing a crime?” So what? Children were sexually abused and the Catholic Church hierarchy across the world condoned and covered it up by shipping offending priests to a new parish. Treating these acts as a “civil crime” is part of the damn problem.

If this rant comes across as a bit incoherent then forgive me but in my world, there are certain crimes that I find unforgivable and sexual abuse of a child is right at the top of the list. I studied Sociology my first time through college but recognized that I did not have the temperament to be a good social worker. One of my earliest posts here was on how I consider Child Welfare workers to have one of the most thankless jobs going. I spent a good part of the time in the late ’90s and early ’00s testing child welfare systems and became quite conversant with the federal reporting. This link will take you to the HHS/Administration for Children and Families page where you can access a PDF for the 2010 report National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems report if you care to delve into the statistics on child abuse and neglect.

I usually end a post with some music but not today.

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor