Postcards Grein Theodore McCarrick
Title: In his own words: Ex-Cardinal’s letters to abuse victims
Author: Nicole Winfield
Publisher: ABC News via Associated Press
Correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he sexually abused show how a globe-trotting bishop made vulnerable men feel special _ and then took advantage of them.
VATICAN CITY — At first glance, the handwritten postcards and letters look innocuous, even warm, sometimes signed off by “Uncle T.” or “Your uncle, Father Ted.”
But taken in context, the correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he is accused of sexually abusing or harassing is a window into the way a predator grooms his prey, according to two abuse prevention experts who reviewed it for The Associated Press.
Full of flattery, familiarity and boasts about his own power, the letters provide visceral evidence of how a globe-trotting bishop made young, vulnerable men feel special — and then allegedly took advantage of them.
The AP is exclusively publishing correspondence McCarrick wrote to three men ahead of the promised release of the Vatican’s own report into who knew what and when about his efforts to bed would-be priests. Access to an archbishop for young men seeking to become priests “is a key piece of the grooming process here,” said one of the experts, Monica Applewhite.
Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick, 89, in February after a church investigation determined he sexually abused minors as well as adult seminarians. The case has created a credibility crisis for the Catholic hierarchy , since McCarrick’s misconduct was reported to some U.S. and Vatican higher-ups, but he nevertheless remained an influential cardinal until his downfall last year.
McCarrick has declined to comment on his case, except to say in an initial statement last year that he was innocent but accepted the Holy See’s decision to remove him from ministry. McCarrick lawyer J. Michael Ritty declined to comment on the correspondence.
The testimony of James Grein, 61, the first child McCarrick baptized, was key to the Vatican case. The son of close family friends, Grein told church investigators that McCarrick began sexually abusing him when he was 11, including during confession and at family weddings and holiday celebrations.
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