Newly Published McCarrick Letters: Inside the Mind of a Clerical Predator

News: US News
by Church Militant  •  •  August 6, 2019   

James Grein explains classic abuser strategies

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VATICAN CITY ( - The Associated Press (AP) published an article Tuesday featuring disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's letters to three of his victims that reveal the classic moves of a predator.

Church Militant spoke with James Grein, the first of McCarrick's victims to come forward in July 2018 after the archdiocese of New York announced there was a credible allegation against McCarrick.

"This article defines the predator so that all vulnerable men and women across the world can read, learn and recognize what was going on in his or her life. It's important that this article is written to lay the groundwork and define a predator," said Grein.

McCarrick used postcards to give the appearance he was being open.
Theodore McCarrick

McCarrick is the textbook case of a sexual predator, one who used universally recognized strategies and classic moves to groom his victims, Grein said.

"McCarrick is the definition of a predator," he said. "His mode of operation was taught to every predator in the Catholic Church. Experts across the world recognize the characteristics used by McCarrick — as classic moves."

One of those classic moves was referring to his young victims as "nephews" and insisting they call him "Uncle Ted."

According to Monica Applewhite, an abuse prevention expert, using the language of "uncle" and "nephew" established a family relationship that would make it difficult for any of the victims to report McCarrick's abuse.

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Another predatory move involved McCarrick sending postcards.

One of McCarrick's letters

"Using the postcards stuffed in a personal letter to my dad appears to be innocent enough for my dad to let down his guard," said Grein.

McCarrick used postcards to give the appearance he was being open.

"To send it in a postcard says 'I have nothing to hide,'" said Applewhite.

McCarrick used this mirage of openness and familiarity to manipulate his victims as well as his victims' families.

"Families across the world let down their guard to trust the priest-predator and let them into the very center of family life — share family secrets in and out of confession," said Grein.

McCarrick also used his position of authority and power to manipulate his victims, telling them of his important assignments and special privileges.

He wrote to one seminarian in the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, mentioning his travels to Russia and Poland in 1987. McCarrick wrote that same seminarian later in the year to talk about how he accompanied John Paul II during his trip to the United States.

"It's reminding him of his position of power, that he has all this access to special privilege," said Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor and expert in sexual violence prevention at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The message to the seminarian, according to Jeglic, is: "You stay with me, you get access to that."

McCarrick serves as a model for the classic sexual predator, but he is not an isolated case.

"The AP article uses McCarrick as the center for this definition; but predators are everywhere in all walks of life. We are all vulnerable to a predator who has been trained to use us," said Grein.

McCarrick serves as a model for the classic sexual predator, but he is not an isolated case.
McCarrick signs off "Love, Uncle Ted"

Though abusers like McCarrick prey on individual victims, everybody is a victim in some way, according to Grein.

"McCarrick and all the other predators across the world have been wreaking havoc on everyone. Yes, victims are singled out but all of us are victims," he said. "We are lied to, abused, used and coerced by these evil men for years, all for their own gain."

Exposing McCarrick has opened a conversation that can lead to action in the Church and in the world, and everybody needs to play their part, according to Grein.

"This is the holy gift we have received from Jesus Christ. The world is talking about this, finally. Rise up and help all victims to rid the world of all evil," he said.

Some of McCarrick's newly published letters can be accessed here, here and here.

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