McCarrick Letters Underscore the Importance of Education about Grooming

By Zach Hiner
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
August 6, 2019

Letters released by the Associated Press today show how one powerful church official was not only able to groom children and adults for abuse but was able to do so openly. We hope that the publication of these letters will lead to both healing for the survivors and new opportunities for parents and the public to become educated about grooming.

The letters sent by disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick are textbook examples of grooming behavior. With his intimate personal communication, he was able to build relationships with boys and men that would eventually turn abusive. The Cardinal also ingratiated himself into the families of his victims. Grooming can be a key part of abuse, as it allows the perpetrator to get close to the target, allowing him/her to gain trust and familiarity that can be used to victimize the young and vulnerable.

We hope that these letters will encourage parents as well as members of the public, particularly those who work with children, to learn more about this subtle process. An excellent resource can be found here. The more informed that people are about behaviors like this, the better able they are to intervene in relationships that are inappropriate and to prevent future cases of abuse from occurring.

Similarly, the release of these letters shows that it is time for every church official who knows former Cardinal McCarrick to call and write him, urging him to admit guilt and make reparations so his victims can feel some closure and healing. It is also time for the Vatican to finally release their report into who knew what and when regarding this situation and to discipline any and all church officials who knew of the Cardinal’s wrongdoing but stayed silent.



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