The fallout continues over comments made by Father Benedict Groeschel to the National Catholic Register last week in which he suggested that minors often seduce priests in sex abuse cases, with the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) announcing that Father Groeschel will step down as host of Sunday Night Prime.
EWTN president Michael Warsaw published a statement asking for forgiveness after the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register published an interview with Father Groeschel in which he expressed his belief that priests are often seduced by minors in sex abuse cases and that first offenders should not necessarily be sent to jail. Father Groeschel later apologized for the remarks, saying that he did not intend to “blame the victim” and affirmed that a priest or anyone else who abuses a minor is “always always wrong” and “always responsible.”
In his statement, Warsaw said Father’s comments do not reflect the views of EWTN or the paper and should never have been published.
“It should have been obvious to the editor that Father Benedict’s physical condition and mental clarity have deteriorated and that the comments were completely inconsistent with his life’s work and witness,” Warsaw said. “We apologize that these remarks were published and ask for forgiveness for this error.”
He goes on to say that regular viewers of EWTN can see that Father Groeschel’s health has been declining.
“For more than a year, the Network has been in discussions with both Father and his Community about his capacity to continue hosting Sunday Night Prime. This is the reason that the program moved from a live to a pre-recorded format last year. In more recent months Father Benedict’s decline has accelerated.
“After consultation with EWTN and the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Father Benedict has decided that it is now time to step away from the program. The Sunday Night Prime program will continue and will be hosted by other priests of the CFR community.”
Warsaw expressed only praise for Father Groeschel’s lifetime of service to God’s people.
“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.”
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