The handwritten missives, many signed simply “Uncle T.,” were sent to aspiring young priests as part of defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s perverse wooing of his victims, according to a pair of abuse prevention experts.
Several postcards and letters sent by McCarrick to his sexual targets were made public Tuesday by The Associated Press, with experts saying the correspondence offers insights into the grooming process used by the creepy cleric as he pursued the young men.
McCarrick, now 89, flaunted his top-echelon position in the Catholic Church, referred to the young men as his “nephews” and even sent a thank-you note to a seminarian groped by the priest during a 1987 overnight stay in Manhattan.
While the victim recalled vomiting afterward in McCarrick’s apartment, Uncle Ted instead sent him a note: “I Just want to say thanks for coming on Friday evening. I really enjoyed our visit.”
The Rev. Desmond Rossi was studying for the priesthood at the Immaculate Conception seminary when McCarrick was named Archbishop of Newark. Rossi recalled getting a letter from McCarrick urging him to return from a 1987 sabbatical and complete his work.
McCarrick mentioned a recent meeting with the Pope John Paul, and advised him that “you’re still very much part of the family.”
Rossi eventually left for a different diocese after a 1989 meeting where McCarrick rolled up on a chair and touched the young man’s leg as he spoke.
“At that moment, pretty much in my mind I thought, ‘I’m leaving this diocese,’ because it was that uncomfortable,” Rossi recalled.
Victim James Grein, whose allegations against McCarrick eventually led to the cardinal’s shocking dismissal, recalled the priest’s postcards angling for a get-together on weekends when the younger man was back in New Jersey from a California boarding school.
“Time is getting close for your visit back east,” read one McCarrick letter to Grein. “I’ll be calling him one of these days to check in on arrangements. Love to all, Your uncle Fr. Ted.”
Grein recalls how McCarrick sent some of the postcards inside letters to his father, adding additional pressure for him to meet with the priest.
“If I didn’t go see Theodore I was always going to be asked by my brothers and sister, or my dad, ‘Why didn’t you go see him?’ ” said Grein, 61, the first child ever baptized by McCarrick.
Grein testified before the New Jersey state Senate that the abuse began when he was just 11 years old, and continued for another 18 years.
The AP printed the letters ahead of the Vatican’s release of its own report into McCarrick’s reported sexual relationships with aspiring Catholic priests.
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