Sadness, As a Saint Says Goodbye: Father Groeschel Steps Down

Thank you, Father Groeschel.  Through the years, your steadfast teaching has kept us on a steady course in our Christian walk.  By your humility and your love, you have taught us how to embrace Christ in the people we meet along life’s journey.  Through your wise counsel, you have helped us to grow in understanding of the Catholic faith. May God bless you for your faithful service, and may He comfort you as you seek to do His will in the seclusion of monastic life.

This is a sad day for people who have listened spellbound to the no-frills message of a great man of God, Father Benedict Groeschel.  Today Father Groeschel, age 79, has stepped down as host of EWTN’s “Sunday Night Prime” television show. 

You probably know why:  The Internet has been a-flurry with news of his recent inflammatory comment regarding children who have been abused by Catholic priests.  In an interview which was published August 27 in the National Catholic Register, Father Groeschel opined, “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.”

Almost immediately, the Internet was ablaze with criticism.  The New York Times called it a case of “blaming the victim.”  Bloggers and reporters alike jumped to the defense of abused children.  The Archdiocese of New York and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal each issued apologies and clarifications.  Father Groeschel himself apologized publicly, explaining that in his advanced years, he is not always able to express himself well.

The New York Times summarized the situation in an article on August 31: 

For the past 38 years, Father Groeschel has counseled priests at the Trinity Retreat House in theNew Yorksuburb of Larchmont; he founded the retreat at the direction of the archbishop at the time, Cardinal Terence J. Cooke. The retreat is a place of treatment and reflection, and the archdiocese has sent priests credibly accused of sexual abuse to live there, but not since 2006, Mr. Zwilling said.

More recently, priests struggling with problems like alcoholism have been sent there for counseling. Father Groeschel, who has a doctorate in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University, has also taught pastoral counseling for more than 40 years at the archdiocesan seminary, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

But though he told The Catholic Register that he continued to teach at the seminary, the archdiocese said that the previous academic year had been his last because of what it described as advancing senility and other health problems. The Rev. Glenn Sudano, another founder of the Friars of the Renewal, whose adherents take vows of poverty and work extensively with the poor, said the remarks might have been the result of Father Groeschel’s advancing age and failing health, as well as the aftereffect of a near-fatal 2004 car accident in Orlando, Fla.

“Poor Father Benedict,” he said. “It is painful for us, seeing someone who was so much an advocate and a defender for the underdog, say that.”

In an official statement on the website of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, they explain: 

About seven years ago, Fr. Benedict was struck by a car and was in a coma for over a month.  In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing.  He has been in and out of the hospital.  Due to his declining health and inability to care for himself, Fr. Benedict had moved to a location where he could rest and be relieved of his responsibilities.  Although these factors do not excuse his comments, they help us understand how such a compassionate man could have said something so wrong, so insensitive, and so out of character.  Our prayers are with all those who have been hurt by his comments, especially victims of sexual abuse.

In announcing Father Groeschel’s departure from his television show, Michael Warsaw, president and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, said of the beloved Franciscan friar, “Father Benedict has led a life of tremendous compassion and service to others, and his spiritual insights have been a great gift to the EWTN family for many years. We are profoundly grateful to him and assure him of our prayers.  At the same time, we ask our EWTN family to pray for all those who have been affected by this painful situation and in particular those who have been victims of sexual abuse.”

*     *     *     *     *

On the heels of the firestorm, Father Groeschel’s apology—explaining that in his advanced years, he finds it difficult to communicate clearly, but that it was not his intent to blame youngsters for the actions of their abusers—is important; but it is not enough.

Yes, sadly, I agree that it was time for Father Groeschel to retire and to focus on prayer, as his age and his physical frailty have impacted his verbal acuity.  I’m sorry that he, EWTN or his religious community had not recognized the problem two weeks ago, before his reputation was sullied by his misstatement on this critical issue.  I’m sorry that the National Catholic Register didn’t anticipate the firestorm that would follow the friar’s incendiary remarks and edit the interview to reflect more kindly on this gentle soul. 

I don’t always sit and watch television on Sunday evenings; but I did catch a little of his show about two weeks ago.  Talking about it later that evening with my husband, I had expressed dismay that he seemed so much older and more frail, and seemed several times to be stumbling in search of a familiar phrase.  I had commented then that perhaps it was time to consider retirement.

If only that had happened.

In the past, it has been my privilege on several occasions to meet Father Groeschel—and once, to greet him at the airport and drive him to his destination for a speaking engagement.  He was a fearless purveyor of truth:  That meant that when he spoke to members of Legatus, the organization of Catholic CEOs, he told that group of wealthy business leaders that they should give more to the poor, that they should feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, dine with the common man, and give freely of their wealth for the sake of the Gospel.  When he spoke to addiction professionals at Guest House’s summer conference, he issued a clarion call for honesty in protecting victims of abuse.  He had no interest in acquiring wealth or building a name for himself; his prayer was for the people who were served by his four community centers in New York City.

It is painful to realize that his long career as a teacher and helper of souls has ended so ignominously, that readers and viewers may disregard his wise counsel because of a single lapse in judgment.  Even if it was compassion that drove him to defend the priests whom he has guided through addiction and personal failure, the issue of clerical abuse is a flashpoint for Americans, and the public enforcement of a “zero tolerance” policy is universal. 

So I’m certain that Father Groeschel will recede into his cell, avoiding any potential pitfalls and praying for souls.  I hope that in his general prayer, he remembers sinners like me; for I’m sure Jesus and His Mother Mary look with great love toward this humble servant who has served so well and given so much in his long lifetime. 

Dear Father Groeschel, may the Divine Healer comfort you as you enter this new phase of life; and when your work here on earth is finished, may He welcome you to the place He has prepared and may you, in the company of the angels and the saints, enjoy the blessed companionship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

*     *     *     *     *

There is one group to whom I’d like to address a specific request.  That group is SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.  This organization has frequently focused on shaming the Church and the priesthood, demanding remuneration for past offenses, and generally keeping the pot stirred.  It seems to matter little to them that the cases about which they protest date back to the 1960s and ‘70s; they are professional complainers.  Please give it a rest.  This is not to belittle the serious nature of the abuses which occurred; but please, fellows, respect this holy man and permit him to retire with dignity and in peace.

  • Francine

    What a beautiful article and AMEN on the last paragraph.

  • Pam

    I am very sad to hear the news regarding Fr Groeschel. He is a saintly man and I understand the context of his statements and believe he spoke the truth. Troubled youth often act in a seductive manner towards adult mentors. This does not condone an adult acting on this seductiveness. But Fr. Groeschel was merely stating a truth which many adults in counseling positions encounter. I pray for him because I certainly do not believe that he was condoning child molestation but merely stating a fact that does exist. Teens do act in a seductive manner at times and a sick, troubled priest may be vulnerable. The prevalence of child abuse of any kind is a terrible problem in all professions and it must be punished appropriately. But I do not believe Fr. Groeschel meant that this was okay. God bless him. I will miss his inspiring TV show even though I often disagreed with some of his more conservative views.

    • Catherine Alexander

      “Troubled youth often act in a seductive manner towards adult mentors.”
      That might be true, as far as “troubled youth” are concerned, but from what I have read and heard, most of the boys who were abused by priests were not “troubled.” They were not juvenile delinquents; they were members of parishes. To endorse the erroneous belief that these kids seduced the priests, instead of the other way around, is shockingly ignorant.

    • Wow…

      You’re despicable.

  • Ruth Ann Pilney

    Thank you for writing this. I concur with you.

  • True Catholic

    Whats the big deal ? He was just expressing his honest opinion. We should return to happier times. Like 20 years ago, when troll, hypricrite, priests, like him, could do whatever they wanted to helpless children, with pure immunity. Through the good ole ‘Brotherhood Of Silence’.

    • bill bannon

      True etc..
      Then why is there no record of any offense by him against children. You do not use your real family name and this allows you a moral holiday in your case. If you are in fact what scripture calls an evil tongue and it seems so, you are on a path to eternal loss and darkness and you may be near forever the very priests who perdure in darkness on this issue. Groeschel was opining on a very rare possibility but he did it outloud. The NY does it too whenever it points to poverty as an excuse for drug dealing by ghetto youth…but that’s ok.

      • bill bannon

        That should read: ” The NY Times does it too….”

  • http://ewtn clare gray

    Bless you Father Groeschel. You have brought many souls back to God
    You met Mother Teresa of Calcutta and I am sure now on the anniversary of her death
    she is helping you from Heaven.
    Do not worry what people say, you have always been
    faithful to your vocation.
    In this day and age we live in, people are so quick to criticise
    and take things out of context

    Remembering you in my prayers and masses


  • Steve in Cleveland

    Madam, I was starting to give it, (Fr. Groeschel) a rest until I saw your last paragraph.
    GIVE IT A REST? Are you serious? These people did unspeakable horrors to children and up to the 2000′s madam, if you read past the 1970′s. If one of your children were to be molested, I am absolutely, positively sure you would not be writing the garbage that you just wrote. My “clarion call” to you is to stop writing and pray that you never are placed in that situation. GO TO CONFESSION AND TAKE billy, and ruthie and pammy with you, since they have childish opinions like you.

    • Jane

      Agreed. That last paragraph is revolting. Kathy would be angry too if she was abused by priests, emotionally abused by more priests, and her original abuse was allowed by yet more priests. The Church is in trouble if so many people are really this incapable of sympathizing with the victims.

    • bill bannon

      Since we are childish, aren’t you as a Bible man mandated by God to not shout toward us the childish per 2 Tim.
      24 “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

      • http://patheos Steve in Cleveland

        Quote the Bible all you want. What if your child, if you have any, was molested? Would you “give it a rest?” Should we have protected the pedophile priest? Let bygones be bygones? What’s the harm…it was the 1970′s and you know how those young boys were back then.
        Got a Bible verse for you…tell me if you agree…” But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Care to comment Billy-boy? Jesus said that…I await your reply….

        • Beverly

          Jesus would have forgiven them and then counseled them. Do good to those who hurt you.
          That was Father Groeschel’s duty.

        • bill bannon

          You depend on reducing people with their nick name alot. You must be onerous to those in your real life off internet. Or do you restrict your use of abuse to the net. You’re an abusive personality protesting more serious abuse. I suspect we agree with your protest but not with your personality

          • Steve in Cleveland

            Sent a question to you about the bible. Care to respond?
            ” But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Care to respond Bill Bannon? Care to respond? Is child abuse by a religious ever excusable? I find it absolutely unbelievable that any of you posters including the woman who wrote this blog could blame anyone but the religious person.
            It is quite apparent that if anyone of you would have had some child or family member abused, you would be quoting more vengeful bible verses.

    • roberta

      How naive you are to believe that such abuses have stopped occurring, and how erroneous Fr. Benedict’s statement–not mentioned in your article– that priest pedophiles who abuse young men are automatically removed from the priesthood. Just think of Bishop Rembert Weakland, who still has an office and so many perks years after he admitted his abuse of a seminarian. You seem to imply that the seriousness of such acts decreases over time–I don’t believe that’s true for the victims. And the tired excuses of our hierarchy (and Fr. Benedict) that the Church is being persecuted by the publication of such charges by the media miss the point of the hierarchy’s enabling and protecting the pederasts.
      Fr. Benedict’s book “Travelers Along the Way,” published in 2010, has a chapter that indicates his thought was deteriorating even then. In this chapter, he naively upgrades a former postulant to “a member” of a religious order; after she left, she underwent sex change surgery, and he presents uncritically her claim that she intends to lead a chaste life (p. 70) Fr. Benedict states that he is convinced of this woman’s sincerity and love of God, while he condemns those who would label her as “sinful.” (When informed that the woman had the sex-change operation, two lay people had the same response: why would she go to such extremes to then remain chaste?) In his excellent 1985 book “The Courage to Be Chaste,” written when he was in his prime. Fr. Benedict writes that surgery is not the answer for would-be transsexuals (p. 52); in 2010 he reverses this view, calling it “glib.”
      As one of Fr. Benedict’s thousands of students, I pray he will have a peaceful and holy retirement without any more public statements or public ministry.

  • David Lorenz

    The wake of devastation this man has left because of his attitude toward the abused is incalculable

  • Jim Harter

    Even though his comments were inappropriate and insensitive to sexual abuse victims, I do not think that father Groeschel meant them that way. We should take into consideration that, he was seriously injured in 2004, and sustained head trauma. Maybe he cannot communicate the way he would want to, like Mother Angelica atfer she had several storkes. We also have to understand, that we, as Catholics, are under close scrutiny, and have to carefully watch the what we say, and the way we say things.

  • betty

    I do not believe ‘victims” who come out many years later in hope to get money. I fully agree with Father Groeschel’s original statement. It is a shame that Father is persecuted for his views. I will not watch EWTN any more.

    • http://patheos Steve in Cleveland

      They should have come out right then and there, right Betty? Remember, in your day, to question a priest was close to heresy. Would a child be believed or the priest. Think Betty. Think. Knowing that you are a “Betty,” you are older and brought up to take the church’s line hook, line and sinker.

      • Dan Sheffield

        “They should have come out right then and there, right Betty? Remember, in your day, to question a priest was close to heresy. Would a child be believed or the priest. Think Betty. Think. Knowing that you are a “Betty,” you are older and brought up to take the church’s line hook, line and sinker.”

        Steve in Cleveand: Your arrogant presumption disqualifies any point you attempt to make. Granted…. that was September, this is March…. but you really need to check the passive-aggressive B.S. at the door, and use a little more fact and a lot more tact. Do you really even know Betty??
        Fr. Groeschel left behind an enormous “wake” of good over the decades. In this era of screaming foul at the slightest provocation, he deserves the benefit of the doubt regarding a misplaced comment in old age and frail health.
        I’ve attached here the summary findings of the John Jay Institute on the priest abuse issues in this hort article by George Weigel. Factual and non-histrionic. The Church is actually a safer environment for minors by a large stretch compared to schools and families. You’d do well to read it, as would ayone else on this thread:

  • Dave N.

    Kathy, sorry but I’m frankly left wondering whether you actually read the original interview. It seems Fr. Groeschel’s fans wish us to excuse his words as inarticulate ramblings of a frail old man. Some have even gone so far as to suggest senility. But if this is the case, how did Fr. Groeschel maintain a busy speaking schedule, work for the Archdiocese, teach at the Archdiocesean seminary (again, please read the interview itself, not the backpedaling from the Archdiocese in the NYT) and host a weekly television program? In addition, the man has devoted a huge chunk of his life coddling priest abusers in the order’s retreat house (Trinity Retreat) in Larchmont, NY until the City of Larchmont had finally had enough of his shenanigans. His very life’s work signaled to priests that if you are caught abusing children in the Archdiocese of New York, “don’t worry, we have a place of prayer and penance for you where you can retire, be taken care of on the faithful’s dime, and live out your years.” It is his historical stance toward sex abuse (help the perpetrator, forget the victim) that make his remarks in the interview so believable and consistent with his past actions.

    And what about the sex abuse that occurred even within his OWN ORDER, crimes for which there has been absolutely no sense of culpability or contrition on the part of the CFR or Fr. Groeschel? Consider the particularly heinous case of Dominic Bokulich “Br. Leopold” who raped four boys within the SAME FAMILY. And the best the order can come up with is “poor Father Benedict…”? Put yourself in the place of the mother whose four children were abused by this priest. How do you think you feel about his remarks? I’m guessing it probably wouldn’t be “poor Father Benedict….”

    It’s also sadly apparent that EWTN (which owns the National Catholic Register) initially saw absolutely no problems with his remarks and only panicked AFTER the blowback they received from the public. It is this constant drumbeat of Catholic tonedeafness in the face of open displays of banality toward evil that has entirely undermined the moral credibility of the Church. And for all its many, many faults, SNAP seems to be the only organized group calling the Church to account.

    • http://patheos Steve in Cleveland

      Thank you David. I wrote to NCR to complain. This is the garbage we are getting from that generation who believes the priest can’t do anything wrong.

  • Rondre

    Benedict has a PhD in Psychology and is not a psychologist. Has never had any training in counseling. He has lived in Larchmont NY, far from the inner city for over 30 years. He might have done some good but has also done much hard to many who went to him for direction. One religious community suffered greatly from his advise.

    He was never humble, many of his teachings were with great errors. Mostly on the theme of gloom and doom. He always thought of himself to above the law and superiors. I think he knew exactly what he was saying when he blamed victims. Don’t let yourself be fooled.

    Please God no advocates for children ever GIVE IT UP. Too bad the church doesn’t get into the business of being advocates for abused victims.

    • John C. Hathaway, OCDS

      Please explain what you mean by “gloom and doom.” Seems to me if there were more “gloom and doom,” Catholics wouldn’t think they could “get away” with stuff like sodomy, birth control, abortion, etc. People like you complain about modernist bishops being overly forgiving of sodomite priests then you turn around and condemn the Church for having had the Inquisition–part of the job of which was to punish priests for offenses like this. Pope St. Pius V said any priest guilty of sodomy was to be laicized, stripped of all titles and property, then burnt at the stake.
      I guess you’re not aware that *ALL* priests are technically considered valid counselors in most states. and a PhD in psychology is not just valid for a counseling license but makes him a psychologist. You’re apparently totally clueless about what the words mean (as well as how the word “advice” is spelled). Now, he may not have gone to the trouble of getting (or renewing) a license to practice clinically, but that’s just like “Dr. Laura,” who *had* a clinical license but allowed it to expire because she turned to full time radio hosting and writing, and then people tried to say she was never a “licensed therapist.”

      What do you mean “above the law and superiors”? A man who speaks humbly of the times he’s been arrested for protesting outside abortuaries? And, yes, every Catholic priest IS above the law, unless the Church says otherwise, because the Catholic Church is above the law. The State is obligated to listen to the Church: if you believe otherwise, you are not a Catholic.

      Finally, the other comment you make is about “superiors.” Yes, Fr. Groeschel and his colleagues separated themselves from the Capuchin order because it had fallen into modernism, and the other Capuchins were too materialistic. Back in the 1600s, people complained that Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross thought themselves “above their superiors” as well.

      I am sick to death of the groundless calumny and detraction being levied against Fr. Groeschel.

      • Rondre

        Gee I never mentioned anything about his former community. Interesting you did. Gee I never mentioned modernist bishops, but you did.

        You said his former community was too materialistic. Living is plush neighborhood as he does sound pretty materialistic while the rest of the bros live in the inner city. Interesting.

        • Harry Kemp

          He lived in a cell like room in the garage. That ain’t plush BRO

  • John C. Hathaway, OCDS

    The key issue was phrasing. The *content* of what he said is what he has expressed, more articulately, in numerous past interviews, trying to explain both how these things happen and why they were not dealt with appropriately-and, yes, he has consistently disagreed with a zero tolerance approach, which is consistent with the compassionate approach he has used in dealing with other issues, such as abortion and ecumenism. I don’t 100% agree with his views on this topic (i.e., he insisted that chaste men with same sex attraction should be ordained, even after the Vatican declared otherwise), but I hate that his reputation for holiness and his professional qualifications have been besmirched by this controversy.

    As for an account of his personal holiness, please see this post I wrote about my brief meeting with Fr. Groeschel in 2009:

  • John Thompson

    Child abuse lasts for ever. It is the Catholic Church that is the professional complainer. From the first instance of child abuse a child’s life becomes a life of pain forever. This is while child abuse is Soul Murder. The rest of the child’s life is one of self hate and blight because the Catholic Church, the professional complainer, refuses to take responsibility for it’s horrific actions. We put the blame back where it belongs on the Catholic Church and its laity who are the new Hitler’s Willing Executioners.

    • John C. Hathaway, OCDS

      John Thompson,
      What do you think “the Catholic Church” is? The Catholic Church is the body of Jesus Christ on earth. No individual, no group of individuals, is the “Catholic Church”. The Catholic Church is the presence of the Holy Spirit working throw flawed human beings to dispense God’s grace to other flawed human beings.
      We are all sinners, and child abuse happens all over the place.
      And the majority of the sexual abuse cases by Catholic priests may have been abuse, they may have been rape, and they may have been legally “child abuse,” but they were NOT “pedophilia,” since most of the victims were over age 13. They were acts of homosexual molestation and rape by homosexuals.
      Fr. Groeschel may have fallen into the therapist’s problem of sympathizing too much with his patients. Or he may be right about what he described as SOME cases–not all, just SOME. He may have been wrong in his personal judgement on this situation, but that’s precisely why Jesus forbids us from judging. It’s not our place to judge souls. It’s not right for Fr. Groeschel to overly excuse people for what they did, and it’s not right for other people to overly condemn them. It’s not right for people to make judgements about Fr. Groeschel’s soul or intentions for comments he made.
      Yes, he has made similar comments in the past, and with far more articulation, but it was ALWAYS clear in context that he was not trying to justify anything but merely explain why people screwed up in the past in dealing with these cases. He has repeatedly pointed out, which no one else seems willing to do, that NO ONE, before the past few decades, seemed to care much.

      When the case broke in Ireland a few years ago, an elderly Irish politician spoke of when the great Fr. Flanagan, founder of Boys’ Town, came to Ireland and toured its orphanages. Before leaving Ireland, Fr. Flanagan railed against the rampant abuse and corruption he found there, and this politician said that everyone–priests, bishops, laity and government officials–dismissed him as a nutjob and thought it could not possibly be as bad as he described. That was Fr. Groeschel’s point. In many cases that have made the news from decades ago, the Church officials of the time *did* go to the police and were told no crime had been committed, or there was not enough evidence, or whatever.

      These are simple facts that people refuse to acknowledge in the rush to judge the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, sexual abuse goes on rampantly in public schools, and no one gives a darn. No one talks about how the public schools are dens of corruption because teachers who try to report sexual misconduct by their colleagues are told they’ll be fired if they go to the police. No one talks about how practically every coach in every school is a little Jerry Sandusky, particularly where female athletes are concerned. No one talks about sexual abuse among Protestant ministers or rabbis. No one talks about sexual abuse by doctors and psychiatrists. Nobody talks about sexual abuse by abortionists, even as case after case is covered up by the mainstream media of abortionists being arrested on multiple accounts of rape.
      Then you go and throw in your anti-Catholic reference to Hitler, as if the secularist, occultist regime of the Nazis did anything but persecute the Church, as the deaths of Catholics in concentration camps and workcamps is covered up in the “official” version of history, or as the murders of Catholics like Fr. James Coyne by the KKK are totally ignored in the history books.

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  • Gabrielle Azzaro

    For all these years Father Groeschel has been excusing sexually abusive priests and sending them back to ministry. Now we are to excuse his comments, which probably were honest comments that he wouldn’t have had the courage to say before? Sorry, no can do. His twisted theology and philosophy have tainted Catholicism for too long. He has been the suporter of the underdog? Again, sexually predatory priests are the underdogs???!!! Wow!! I, for one, am only sad that he didn’t retire about 45 years ago!

    • Rondre


  • John C. Hathaway, OCDS

    Gabrielle Azzaro,

    Would you like to explain what you mean by “twisted philosophy and theology”? This person says he’s too liberal; that person says he’s too conservative. Funny, that.
    And as I noted already, he’s said this *plenty* of times, just far more articulately. He’s the only person who’s *had* the courage to speak this truth.

  • http://patheos Steve in Cleveland

    C’mon Kathy. Let’s hear from you. Would you like to respond again to your last paragraph? Any diocese spokespeople out there to comment? Does Patheos management share your feelings? Not seeing anything from them or the other “Catholic” bloggers makes me wonder.

  • Mark Hermann

    Of course I could not possibly excuse that statement!!!
    I am 75 and unfortunately know first hand what begins to happen to one’s mind. I am noticing it in my own life, so I have voluntarily stopped before hurting any more than I may already have. He should have been stopped a long time ago. But powers used him up because his charisma and the pitiful lack of other inspiring figures. It is not only he who said this. The ones who provided the means, in my view are more to blame. In either event, too bad for us all. We NEED better.
    I have not had much liking for the father in question for many years, and I told him so, to his face.
    He suggested that my wife of over 30 years leave me, because at the time with 2 ivy league college payments every year, money was tight and she was very unhappy.
    I left the room and cried for hours. As God would have it, my wife RIP, was diagnosed with
    Cancer and I cared for her for seventeen years more. In total celibacy and after the ivy colleges were completed, cared for her 24/7, until she died. A total of fifty years. So I looked inside and knew where my wisdom comes from.
    Upon her death I confronted him again.
    You know what, we all are human and if you find yourself among those who do not need to use a bathroom, write me. I will be impressed. Until then, okay it’s extremely distressing, but keep your internal eyes focused on The Holy Trinity, and go on trying to do some good to those around you.
    When you find yourself in the bathroom, please remember we are all messed up and pray for help for all of us, we need that better than criticism. We all make horrible mistakes, so are you different?
    From one who has suffered all this, I beg you, forgive and pray for help for ALL OF US!!!

    • Mark Hermann


  • Jae

    I watched Father Benedict’s TV show for the past two years. He is a man of compassion, honor and integrity. His comments which have caused such a stir were out of character for this Christ-centered man. We have all said things that we regret and his words of apology reflect his sorrow. I believe that God will judge Father Groeschel with great love, mercy and compassion. I hope that God will do the same for me. I will keep Father Groeschel in prayer.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      I appreciate your compassion. That’s what I had hoped to elicit with my post–not the firestorm that followed.
      Yes, Father Groeschel is a great man of God, who has led many to Christ. Even he recognizes that this was a serious misstatement; but I’m sure God will judge him more gently than many out here in the blogosphere.

  • Lillie Palmer

    Thank you for your beautiful thoughts … Father Groeshel was and continues to be via his books a spiritual guide.
    I know … Give it a rest will also be misconstrued and held against you. It seems people are obsessed with their own personal traumas to the extent of wanting to being down the whole church. Horrible me generation we are…. Sexual abuse is criminal in all categories of course! It should be stopped of course! I do not believe though it should become the platform for church-hating trolls which is has become.


  • Eleanor Cranmer

    I miss you so much on Sunday Night Live. I met you when you came to Ft Wayne IN. It was such a special gift to me to meet you. God bless you!

  • gloria kavanagh

    How happy the devil that he has all the nasty remarks against Frs Groeschel and Corapi!!!!!
    Since EWTN started, more souls have been saved than you can imagine.
    Whose soul does the devil want the most??? The soul of a Catholic priest!! Why are the priests of Ewtn being accused of wrong doing, Fr. Groeschel being the 3rd one. Because they save souls, they
    consecrate bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity of JESUS CHRIST. WHO does the devil hate the most. JESUS CHRIST! Fr. Frank Pavone saved babies in the womb with his ministy. He was accused of stealing. We have been priviledged to see and hear these 3 saints and we are poorer for the loss.

  • Mike D’Amelio San Jose, Ca

    Dear Father Groeschel, I and my mother are truly saddened of the said happenings, we had just begun to watch your wonderful show a couple of years ago, and were faithful watchers, we will truly miss you, as you are and always will be a true man of GOD !
    This world is of the internet is a true evil, and Father Groeschel called us out on it, that is all he did, speak the truth.
    God Bless you Father !

    Mike & Italia,

    San Jose, CA

  • Wandriaan

    I have seen the monstrous hypocrisy of sexual libertines towards the Catholic Church during the scandals. People who actually promoted sex with minors suddenly turned around and acted as if they were the most holy of puritans. This whole society is sick as sick can be. It is deeply tragical that a rarely saintly men in a society as dark as Sodom and Gomorra was thrown to the wolves so cruelly because of one unfortunate expression. But again , all these Pharasees, all these throwers of stones, against this saintly man, is what is to be expected in this dark, dark age, where almost everything is a lie…Go gently in the Night, Father Groeschel, and pray for us sinners when you are in Heaven…

  • Kim Gloria

    Fr. Groeschel I miss you very much. May God bless you. I will think of you, and keep you in prayers. Fr Groeschel lived his entire life serving God. Should he be judged so harshly. For he without sin cast the first stone. Lets remember those words from Jesus.

  • Joan T.

    Fr. Groeschel has been an inspiration to me through his program on EWTN over the years and his influence has helped me in becoming a catholic in my late 60′s.

    Don’t we all say things that come out wrong, or mistakenly even say the opposite of what we mean sometimes? For a man who has done such good for most of his life; a person who knew as a child he was to be a priest, there must be forgiveness and understanding that the human condition is never perfect. I offer him my prayers and thanksgiving for how he has shared his spiritual gifts with me and so many others.His
    critics might first look in a mirror to see if they find a log in their own eyes instead of the speck in someone else’s.

  • Joan T.

    I have been very blessed over the last few years to watch Fr. Groeschel’s program on EWTN, and it has been in part an inspiration that led me to become a Catholic after I have been a protestant most of my life.

    The human condition is never perfect, and haven’t we all said something that came out wrong. Luckily all of us are not in the public eye! I thank Fr. Groeshel for helping me with his spiritual insights on his program and in his books. People need to take the log out of their own eyes before confronting the specks they see in the eyes of others. Bless you Fr. G., and I am praying for you.

  • Peter

    Frankly, I have nothing but contempt for the way EWTN and Mr. Warsaw expunged the body of audio work made by Fr. Benedict from EWTN’s audio library. The idea that an EWTN publication would print such things rather than protect an aged infirm man from his own foibles is disgusting. Fr. Groeschel is a living saint. Mr. Warsaw and the editor who allowed the piece should get themselves to confession and then ask forgiveness from Fr. Groeschel. Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeir would have never allowed such against a man who was a prime mover in the success of EWTN. Shame on them.

  • http://www.osffranciscanscom Br Alan

    I’ll miss watching Father Groeschel. As a protestant franciscan brother I didn’t agree with many of his views but I do enjoy watching the show and will continue to do so. Thanks for shaking the tree up now and then Fr Groeschel.

  • Brian

    I am upset to hear that Father is no longer on EWTN.
    I always found him a fair and amazing man with such remarkable character,i loved how earthy he is and his stories of his youth were always such a joy to hear.
    I think it was a huge mistake to extract Father from EWTN like they have,they could have let him still be a co host on the show.
    I can’t watch Sunday Night Live anymore without Father Groeschel, i miss him very much and i think the whole issue could have been handled with much more compassion on EWTN’s part.
    One more thing i have to say is that i truly believe many of the so called abuse cases are false and just made to target the Catholic religion,the ones that are legit are very unfortunate i admit and sad, but there is another side to all the cases reported …some are just not True, and i think we all think that but may be afraid to say it.I do feel badly for all the real victims.

  • norma

    Thank you for writing this article, Faher Groeschel is a beautifuk soul who did soo much good. I miss him in his program and hope that he knows many love him and pray for him.

  • Terry Fenwick

    Any of us who have ever heard Fr Groeschel speak or teach -who have been wiped out by the power of his love for the Lord – know that Fr Groeschel would never condone abuse of children and/or anyone!!! It is true we have watched him since the last stroke struggle to express himself and it is good for him to have time to rest and write and stay out of the public for a time. He is precious to all of us.

    I do want to add that I am 80 now and a woman – but I do agree young girls do seduce. We really do seduce. We fall in love with our teachers, our counselors and men who will give attention – sometimes because we want an older man in our lives to fill a need. I can remember doing that in Junior High School. I was “in love” with a driving instructor, a counselor for Student Council, fluttered my eyelashes a lot with that one, and a teacher. Not all the same. We mature too young and we have romance in our hearts a little too young, too. The boys our age are way too young for us when we are 13 – 16. I do not excuse any man who would take advantage of a child or a younger person but I do know I could have seduced and I shudder to think of it. BTW – nothing ever happened!

  • Christopher

    I too feel incredibly for Fr. Groeschel. His life has been such a witness of Christ, and how could anyone condemn him over this one comment at this stage of his life and his condition.
    And I must mention that I am a member od SNAP. I am still very active in the Church, in fact I am on the Parish Council.
    As a survivor of sexual abuse (our ordained Deacon) I know that not all members of SNAP are so ‘down’ on the Church. Some are, but not all.
    Please know that SNAP offers a place of refuge to many that they would not find elsewhere.
    Christopher M.

  • Linda Schaefer

    I had the pleasure of interviewing Father Groeschel in 2004 only months after his car accident. Most of the taped interview focused on his 33 years working with Mother Teresa. He made several references to the priest scandals. I will be publishing this conversation in the form of a mini book. “Conversation with a nearly saintly priest”. It will be available in February 2013. Based on my four hours with Father Groeschel, I discovered a man who is devoutly committed to his faith and in his calling as a priest. He is honest to a fault which is why he connected so well to Mother Teresa. Despite his celebrated status on EWTN, I found in Father Groeschel a humble man of faith who accepted the imperfections in himself and in others.

  • http://GODBLESSFR,GROESCHEL john cavalieri


  • Korou

    I’m very pleased to see from the comments that this post has also been “ablaze with criticism.”
    A saintly man? SNAP should “give it a rest?”
    Shame on you!

  • Gabriella Valente

    I miss Father Groeschel so much. I have been buying his lectures from His kind, thoughtful and caring lectures have been helping me cope with my cancer battle. I wish there were some way we could get him back, maybe through a podcast.

  • Joseph A

    LIKE EVERTHING ELSE RE; SEX ABUSE COMMMENTS; Fr. Ben Groeschel has become a pot shot; its like no one can say anything about sex abuse that doesn’t side with the victims; the PRIESTS are automatically pre-judged, judged, trialized and juried; THEY ARE ALWAYS in the WRONG and the Victims are always in the right. It could have been some other priest that made the same or like comment as Fr. Groeschel did, and again, he would be blockaded. Our wonderful media, and of course, SNAP not only stirs the pot, but puts more wood in the fire. There is nothing wrong with Father Groeschel; He spoke his sincerity from years of experi-
    ence as a priest, psychologist, and spiritual counselor. It seems more than SNAP need counseling here.

    joseph A.

  • Monty Ehrich

    Fr. Groeschel said, basically, that, sometimes, underage people can try and seduce an adult. Is that true or false?
    Anybody with any experience as a counselor knows that it is true. For this he was crucified?!

    • Betty Draper

      I know a woman who, when she was 16 years old, devised a scheme for sexually blackmailing several of her male high-school teachers. The teachers would have been fired or prosecuted if they had become involved with her (and as adults, they should supposedly know better), but the fact remains that this woman thought of this scheme on her own, as a teenager, and was ready to implement it until her mother got wind of it and notified the school. Absolutely true.

    • JB

      He said “child sex abusers are often seduced by teenage boys and should not go to jail on a first offense.” And no, he is not being crucified, hes being called out for his repugnant remark. And regardless if someone younger than you seduces you, does that mean you give in to temptation? You christians claim to be moral, but morality is far from your reach…

  • mikelyn crawford

    Amen, amen and again amen. What were they up to…trying to suppress the life’s contribution of a saintly man…

  • Lenny

    I love Fr Benedict. He truly lives a life of saint. My prayer is always for him. My prayer is alsol for the Catholic Church and those priests wrongly accused because of the media, selfish, ignorant people (i.e. the devil, Satan).

  • Frank Allegro

    Brother Alan Z , you are still my mentor, 46 years after graduation. Frank A

  • Monty Ehrich

    There were literally hundreds of hours of Fr. Groeschel’s programs on EWTN’s website in the audio/visual library, until this business with the interview, and POOF! It all disappears! There is nothing left with Fr. Groeschel that I know of. ind you, last Lent, they had Father’s daily comment, and the decision to remove all the Retreat Teachings, Sunday Night Prime with Fr. Groeschel, etc. may have been Father’s order’s so…
    Anyhow, I would like to notify all who love Fr. Groeschel that there are many, many wonderful videos with him at: .
    I myself have ordered some really good DVDs and CDs from there.
    It is because of Mother Angelica, EWTN, and Fr. Groeschel that I went from being Catholic in Name Only to attending daily Mass. I thank them, and I thank God.

  • jules

    The measure of a man, at the end of his years should not be formulated upon a sentence or a few paragraphs!
    Looking at the whole, the entirety, of Father Benedict would lead to only one conclusion…he was … he is…a man of God…. a gift to our generation!

  • Joseph

    I regret that EWTN caved to the howling mob who can’t wait wait for the slightest excuse to do their damage. I cannot in good ćonscience any longer donate to EWTN. Father Groeschel has done more good in a day than his detractors could collectively muster up in a lifetime. Since when is the Church going not going to support this wonderful man…would the Church turn it’s back on Christ because of his many enemies throughout time? I fear the Church is showing a spinelessness consistent with a society that is intimated by the political correctiveness climate. Come on, EWTN….stand firm! Until you do, I can no longer support your being my spokesperson for my faith any longer.

  • schmidlap

    We will ALL say something clumsily or mis-speak, if we have any ministry at all. No forgiveness in the world of GOTCHA! May Fr. Groeschel feel the grace of REAL forgiveness!

  • Peter

    The lapse in judgment was on the part of the imbecilic editor at National Catholic Review who let the, obviously incontinent answer of an old. sick man be printed like it was. That is simply inexcusable and deserving off termination. Secondly, the cowardly deletion of the entire body of Fr. Groeschel’s audio and video material, which was in large part responsible for the success of EWTN, by Mr. Warsaw, is nauseating. Mother Angelica would never countenance such crass PC behavior.