In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal said ‘People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. 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.’

The 78 yr old priest, who has a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1971, is an influential figure in the American Dioceses who appears weekly on Catholic TV channel EWTN, and has written several books.

Many readers of the National Catholic Register were dismayed to read his comments published without comment, especially as the publication has an affiliation with disgraced Legion of Christ religious order. This clerical order were rocked by scandal when its previous leader, the very high profile Rev Marcial Maciel was accused of sexual abuse. It was also part of a group of investors who saved the National Catholic Registar from closing in 1995.

Greoschel went on to tell the reporter that a large proportion of the [abusive] 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.”

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