‘I Can’t Believe Bill Donohue Said Something So Awful!’ Said No One Ever

Over the last couple of weeks, we have found The Line that even conservative conservatives won’t cross.

When Todd Akin tried to explain Female Anatomy for Psychopaths, a fair chunk of his own party was all “Dude… cool it!”  There are some things that you really just shouldn’t try to defend or justify.

Another one of those Lines that you shouldn’t cross?  Raping kids.  You really shouldn’t try to spin that.

Apparently Bill Donohue (head of the Catholic League) did not get that particular memo.

You may have heard that Friar Benedict Groeschel said some stupid things about priests who rape kids.  You may have heard that he defended the rapists by saying that “it’s the 14 year-olds who are seducing the crap out of  the priests!  Totally not the priests’ fault that they are having sex with kids!”  And you may have felt a certain element of disgust creep through your body.

Raise your hand if I am describing you right now!

Congratulations!  You are a reasonable person with a conscience!  Hooray for you!

Now, let’s look at an example of someone who does not share those characteristics.

“You rang?”

A quarter century ago, Father Groeschel and seven other priests broke away from a religious community to found the Franciscan Friars of Renewal. His service to the Church over the past half-century has been nothing less than heroic. His ministry to the least among us is especially noteworthy.

Father Groeschel holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University, and has put his training to work by counseling some of the most mentally and socially challenged people in our society. In addition, for the past four decades he has been screening men for the priesthood, weeding out those who should not be ordained. His record is impressive.

In a recent interview, he 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.

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?”

Groeschel is nearly 80 years old. A few years back, he was almost killed in an auto accident that left him disabled; it has definitely taken a toll on him. I have known him for two decades, and recently spent an afternoon with him. I’ve read his books, listened to his tapes—on sexual abuse—and have come to know a great priest. To condemn him for one part of one interview is wholly unjust.

I am completely out of words that I can use to express the utter disgust I have for these idiots.

Stop defending rapists.  Stop defending people who are defending rapists.  I don’t doubt that adult men who rape small children have a host of psychological issues. That doesn’t make it okay.

And even if Groeschel said that they “have to leave,” he still said specifically that they shouldn’t go to jail on a first offense.

Stop treating this man as some sort of victim, Donohue.  The victims of this whole thing are the children who were molested by men to whom they were entrusted, the men who the Catholic Church are fighting tooth and nail to protect, while the children are ignored or — we now find out — blamed. There are no two sides to this story, so stop acting like there are.

(Thanks to TheGoodAtheist.net for the link)

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.