September 4th, 2012Blaming the Victimby Dena Hunt
Father Benedict Groeschel made a comparatively innocuous remark on the subject of the scandal in the Church during an interview by the National Catholic Register. The remark resulted in negative publicity, but that was not its only effect; it also caused Fr. Groeschel to step down from the show he has hosted on EWTN for many years. NCR has apologized for publishing the remark, as well they should—it was inexcusably poor editing, but what troubles me more is the nature of the apology and all those that followed.
A lot of predictable breast-beating went on, calling the remark “insensitive,” etc. It seemed that NCR, EWTN, and the Franciscan Friars couldn’t get on the denial bandwagon fast enough. True, they granted Fr. Groeschel the condescension of citing his advanced age as a cause of ‘unclear’ articulation of his thoughts, but in their haste to distance themselves from his remark, their apologies do exactly that which they so righteously condemn—blame the victim. In this case, a victim of overzealous concern with appearances.
The editing that should have been done by the secular media (and never was) is part of the problem: The vast majority of the abuse victims were not children; in other words, this was not “child abuse.” Most victims were post-pubescent teenage boys. The real source of the crisis wasn’t pedophilia as much as it was homosexuality. I acknowledge and accept that the secular media may have their own motives for the lack of editing that resulted in misrepresention. It’s the damage done by the Catholic media’s reactionary defensiveness that concerns me more.
This entire subject, from its genesis, has been replete with injustices and half-truths; one wouldn’t think there’d be room for more, but apparently there is. Thus we have Fr. Groeschel’s needless apology, along with the unjustified blemish on a lifetime of service to others. But we also have these apologies emanating from the obsessive concern with “image,” and isn’t that the same concern that caused the scandalous cover-up in the first place?
I’m sure that Fr. Groeschel, EWTN, and NCR would all agree that the less said about the incident now, the better. It’s the reason for the damage done to this holy man’s reputation that is so troubling. The victims, their families, the clergy, and the entire Church have all suffered enough from this very same cause: obeisance to self-protection over fidelity to truth.
It’s good that Fr. Groeschel should step down, because he’s old and frail and not able to withstand undeserved defamation, but that he should be made to feel apologetic is unforgivable. I’m not canceling my subscription, but I know that I will read my newspaper now with incomplete confidence in its integrity—not so much because they didn’t edit the interview with Fr. Groeschel as because they didn’t thereafter edit themselves….