Father Benedict Groeschel has apologized for saying that child victims of sexual abuse often initiate such encounters and that a first-time offender should not go to jail.

Groeschel, a prominent Franciscan priest, made his comments in an interview published Monday in the National Catholic Register. The publication has since removed the item and replaced it with an apology.

“I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible,” Groeschel said. “My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.”

In the interview, Groeschel described convicted child sex abuser and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky as “this poor guy.”

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to – a psychopath. But that's not the case. 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. … It's not so hard to see – a kid looking for a father and didn't have his own – and they won't be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.”

“It's an understandable thing … there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor,” Groeschel said.

Groeschel, 79, is the author of The Courage to be Chaste, which calls on gay men to honor God by leading a life of celibacy, and a co-founder of the Catholic support group Courage, which also claims gay people should lead chaste lives, according to a report on Box Turtle Bulletin.