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Theodore McCarrick at a US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting before details of his predation were made public Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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McCarrick breaks his silence: ‘I’m not as bad as they paint me’

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VICTORIA, Kansas, September 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Ted McCarrick has broken his year-long silence. 

Disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has granted an interview to a reporter and denied the accusations that have been made against him. 

Several men have complained that McCarrick made unwelcome sexual advances to them when they were seminarians, and there have been two “credible allegations” that McCarrick also sexually assaulted two minors, a 16-year-old altar server and an 11-year-old family friend named James Grein. Grein alleges that the cardinal abused him for years. 

McCarrick, who has been dismissed from the clerical state, was sent to live in a Capuchin friary in the small Kansas town where reporter Ruth Graham, whose story appeared today in the online Slate magazine, asked him to talk.    

It was almost time for lunch, McCarrick told me, but we could talk for a bit. He showed me to a small meeting room, and we began to talk about his life in Victoria, his defrocking, and the accusations against him.

All his answers to my questions were short and steady. McCarrick said he never leaves the friary, not even to enter the basilica next door. He is grateful for the company of the other men who live at the friary, and he participates in the daily routine: Mass at 7 a.m., a communal breakfast, evening prayers. He spends much of his time in the chapel, he said, and in the library. “They’ve really treated me as a brother,” he said.

Graham asked the former cardinal “if he had done it.”

“I’m not as bad as they paint me,” McCarrick replied. “I do not believe that I did the things that they accuse me of.”  

McCarrick would discuss only one of the accusations and, in fact, brought it up himself: James Grein’s allegation that the older man had groped him in the confessional. 

“The thing about the confession, it’s a horrible thing,” he said, sounding suddenly more urgent. “I was a priest for 60 years, and I would never have done anything like that. … That was horrible, to take the holy sacrament and to make it a sinful thing.” 

The former cardinal stated that he thought the seminarians who accused him of groping them at his Jersey Shore beach house were encouraged to do it. 

“I think that they were encouraged to do that,” he told Graham. “There were many [seminarians] who were in that situation who had never had any problems like that.”

Graham, however, was unconvinced. 

This was a point he made several times: that plenty of young men had come to the beach house and had no problems there. He couldn’t have done it, in other words, because look at all the people he didn’t harass. As for who would have orchestrated such a campaign, he declined to name names, but referred vaguely to “enemies.”

Meanwhile, McCarrick had an accusation of his own to make – against Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Bizarrely, the former prelate purported to believe that the former papal nuncio is a “representative of the far right.”

“He was talking as a representative of the far right, I [think],” McCarrick said of Viganò. “I don’t want to say he’s a liar, but I think some of the bishops have said that he was not telling the truth.”  

Archbishop Viganò is material to the McCarrick case, for he testified that a number of high-ranking prelates, Pope Francis among them, knew that McCarrick had been accused for many years of having sexually harassed priests and seminarians. Viganò’s testimony intensified the light that was already shining on McCarrick, leading to his eventual defrocking.   

Graham painted McCarrick as a small, stooped, pathetic, and lonely individual who does not get much mail – only, ironically enough, Catholic fundraising appeals. She stressed that McCarrick is very well known in the town where he now lives for his reputation as an abuser and that he is unlikely ever to leave it. 

A priest comes to the friary to hear confession once a week, and McCarrick participates. Confessionals—and the Catholic Church—are places where both honesty and secrecy are holy. It is impossible for me not to wonder what he says there, when he has the sacred freedom to tell the truth about his life, now winding to a close in lonesome notoriety. He reminded me several times in our conversation that he was a priest for 60 years, but no matter what he sees when he looks backward, he must know that he will not be remembered as a shepherd. In this small town in western Kansas, he’s a living icon of both the crime of clerical sexual abuse and the church’s toxic willingness to cover it up. He’s not optimistic about having the chance to move back east. “I don’t know how many years are in my calendar,” he said. “One tries one’s best to accept where one is.”

LifeSiteNews has reached out to James Grein, who indicated that he had not yet finished reading the Slate interview. 

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