Prominent priest, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, blames sex victims, says first-time abusers shouldn’t face jail

David Gibson and Daniel Burke |

NEW YORK (RNS) The Rev. Benedict Groeschel, a prominent author and speaker who is especially popular with conservative Catholics and bishops, has sparked outrage by saying that priests who sexually abuse children “on their first offense” should not go to jail. He added that in “a lot of cases” the child is “the seducer.” By David Gibson and Daniel Burke.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s GOP convention blessing prompts debate

(RNS) The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee. But the move has promoted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP. By David Gibson.