Alleged priest sex abuse victim claims he told Pope John Paul II about ordeal in confession

By Michael Gartland
New York Daily News
August 14, 2019

(L) Archbishop Theodore McCarrick / (R) James Grein (AP)

The rot reaches all the way to the top.

That was the message James Grein delivered about the Catholic Church Wednesday outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral when he detailed the lawsuits he’s filing against the church and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked earlier this year.

Grein claims that not only did McCarrick sexually abuse him for years, but that he reported the abuse to Pope John Paul II during a dramatic Vatican confession. The pope, he said, did nothing.

“He blessed me. He put his hands on my head. He dismissed me,” Grein told reporters outside the cathedral in midtown.

Grein, 60, of Virginia, has accused McCarrick of sexually abusing him since he was an 11-year-old boy growing up in New Jersey. Over the course of his church career, McCarrick served as bishop of the Metuchen and archbishop of both Newark and Washington D.C. He resigned last year from the College of Cardinals and moved to a monastery in Kansas. McCarrick, 88, was officially defrocked by church leaders in February.

Grein’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, is among hundreds filed Wednesday as the state Child Victims Act went into effect.

McCarrick maintained contact with Grein and his family over the course of decades. Grein claims he demanded McCarrick take him on a trip to see Pope John Paul II in 1988 when McCarrick was serving as the archbishop of Newark.

“I said to McCarrick: ‘You’ve got to got to get me in there now,’” Grein recalled Wednesday. “He flew in first class. I flew in the back.”

Pope John Paul II was accompanied by the Vatican secretary of state and his personal secretary when McCarrick dropped him off, Grein recalled.

“It was in a private room,” he recalled. “I told him these words: ‘McCarrick has been abusing me since I was young.’”

Grein said the pontiff responded with a blank stare and then absolved him of his sins.

His claims are outlined in a 14-page complaint filed against the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Manhattan, where McCarrick served as parochial vicar, and the New York Archdiocese, where he worked as Secretary to Terence Cardinal Cooke. McCarrick is not named in that lawsuit.

Grein’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said they plan to file a separate lawsuit against McCarrick in New Jersey because the laws there are broader and will afford Grein a better chance at victory.

New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling noted that despite all the lawsuits, the archdiocese is continuing “to invite people to consider our successful program to bring compensation quickly to qualified claimants through the archdiocesan Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.”

“We ask that people pray for peace and healing for all those who have suffered from the sin and crime of the sexual abuse of minors, wherever it occurred, particularly victim-survivors and their families,” he said.


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