Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Offload Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Friend, Teacher, and Supporter
By Daithi Go Liath
Fr. Groeschel, long time darling of millions of American Catholics and of the Legion of Christ just became even more famous; but for the wrong reasons. In August 2012 during an interview published in the National Catholic Register, once owned by the Legion of Christ- he openly blamed victims for their sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. His statements were quickly disavowed by the Archdiocese of New York (1) and by the Register. He then lost his Sunday evening show on Eternal World Television Network (2) where he had been a spiritual teacher for decades. As the NCR was acquired by EWTN after the Maciel scandal this writer wonders about the Legion-EWTN connection .
Rod Dreyer explains the Groeschel debacle this way:
The Catholic cable giant EWTN has retired Father Benedict Groeschel in the wake of his controversial comments about the sex abuse scandal, which included the following:
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.
Some Groeschel defenders have said that this is a case in which a 79 year old man who survived a terrible car accident a few years back is mentally off his game, and saying things he doesn’t really mean. Possibly. I think it’s more plausible, however, to believe that Groeschel was in fact less guarded than he normally would be, and said what he actually believes.
In the same article Dreher goes on to accuse Fr. Groeschel of even worse judgment in recycling a pedophile priest to run an orphanage Latin America:
That’s the view of a traditionalist Catholic friend of mine who passes along information about Fr. Groeschel’s role in recycling an accused sexual abuser, a priest now running an orphanage in South America. I had lost track of Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity after covering the Society of St. John scandal in Pennsylvania for National Review back in 2002 (links to those stories are no longer available, I’ve discovered this morning). Urrutigoity and the Society stood accused in lawsuits and by others of running a kind of ultraconservative Catholic cult in which boys at a Catholic boarding school served by the Society were sexually abused or at least exposed to extremely inappropriate
Back in 2003 a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, Brooks Egerton, had
gone after Groeschel on the issue of minimizing clergy sexual abuse. His work was dismissed by many at that time as an attack on the Church: In the world according to Father Benedict Groeschel, the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal is largely the stuff of fiction. Reporters
doing the work of Satanare driven to lie, the New York priest says, because they hate the church’s moral teachings.
Ben, to his friends, charismatic and conservative, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal is on the board (3) of the Legion’s Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, VA. He has been involved in assessment, training, spiritual guidance and damage control for the Legion and its Regnum Christi lay movement. Another source states that Fr. Groeschel visited the Legion house in Cheshire CT with LC damage control expert, Fr. Raymond Cosgrave, at the height of the Maciel scandals.
He conducted a two-week course entitled
Integration of Psychology and Spirituality, at the Legion’s Institute for Psychological Sciences campus in DC from June 7 – 18, 2010 (4). Two years previously the Regnum Christi announced another presentation:
Fr. Benedict Groeschel Teaches IPS Students about Stress, Psychology, and Faith. (5)
In March, 2009, Fr. Groeschel visited the Legion of Christ house of formation in Thornwood, CT, celebrated mass and gave a homily (6) encouraging them to be strong in this time of trial: the good are tested by God with trials and tribulations. The Legion rejoiced in the support of their mentor and teacher:
FATHER GROESCHEL TO THE LEGION OF CHRIST
This Is Not the Legion of Anybody Except of Christ
THORNWOOD, New York, MARCH 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a homily given Feb. 20 by Father Benedict Groeschel, one of the founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, when he concelebrated Mass at the formation center of the Legionaries of Christ in Thornwood.
Father Groeschel hosts Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel on EWTN, directs the Office for Spiritual Development for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and teaches pastoral psychology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York and at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia.
A friendly blogger, Abbey Roads, entitled his comment:
Fr. Groeschel consoles the Legion of Christ. / (7)
Later in 2009, the year that revelations linked Fr. Maciel to having children with lovers, Fr. Benedict demonstrated his support for the Legion’s Institute for Psychological Sciences. A Google search produced: Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Helps IPS … – Regnum Christi Click Here
Oct 12, 2009 – The Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) welcomed one of its long-time supporters on October 1, 2009. Father Benedict Groeschel …
In May, 2011, canon lawyer Michael Dunnigan wrote cogently in Cloaking Maciel in a Capuchin Hood (8), that the Legion was seeking in the sinful Capuchin founders a model for the Legion to survive despite their sinful founder, Marcial Maciel
Today, however, the link to the above referenced Regnum Christi 2009 article is not working. It appears that the Legion/Regnum has hastened to try to cover its relationship with Fr. Groeschel by disabling links to articles.
This may mean that the Legion is dropping Fr. Groeschel and his Capuchins whom for a time they had used as a model for the survival of the Legion. Will they abandon the Capuchin paradigm? Will they turn their backs on their friend, mentor and teacher? Who or what will be the next instrument used to prop up the Legion/Regnum of Christ.
Returning to Fr. Groeschel, many commentators have attributed his error to his being embedded in the Catholic clerical culture. He certainly has some kind of a blind spot. For my part, I ask myself what is it with some Conservative Catholic leaders that they seem to have the same blind spot: excuse the clerical abuser and blame the victim. A blind spot I pointed out in none other than the late great Richard J. Neuhaus, duped by Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ And that link does work!