Cardinal Theodore McCarrick made news this week when he spoke with Ruth Graham of Slate, his first such interview since he was defrocked for sexual abuse allegations.
McCarrick, who was initially suspended from ministry in June 2018 by the Vatican, before being defrocked in February, was once a very influential Catholic clergyman in the United States. He served as the archbishop of Washington until 2006, before serving the Vatican as a diplomat and fundraiser.
McCarrick is accused of fondling an altar boy decades ago, sexually abusing James Grein, a family friend, beginning when Grein was only 11, and inappropriately touching several young priests.
McCarrick now lives in Victoria, Kansas, at the St. Fidelis Friary. The church moved him there following news of his suspension. The friary, incidentally, is adjacent to a school, which caused a fair amount of outrage when it was first announced McCarrick had moved in, although that has mostly quieted down now.
Graham knocked on McCarrick's door after being told McCarrick was not available for an interview. She was surprised when he actually answered the door and agreed to speak for a bit.
When Graham asked McCarrick if he had indeed committed the abuse he was accused of, he replied, “I’m not as bad as they paint me. I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.”
After Graham said that McCarrick's language made it sound like he thought it was possible, focusing on the fact that he said “I do not believe” makes it sound as if he thought it could be possible. McCarrick shot that down, though.
Speaking specifically about the allegation regarding Grein, who was allegedly groped during confession, McCarrick said, “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.”
Grein has announced that he is filing a lawsuit in New York against the New York Archdiocese, where McCarrick served as auxiliary bishop in the 1970's.
When asked why so many people would falsely accuse him, McCarrick said, “I think that they were encouraged to do that. There were many who were in that situation who never had any problems like that.”
So, basically he is saying that since he did not molest everyone we should believe that he never molested anyone. Riiiiight...
In Graham's piece, near the end she sums up the situation with McCarrick like this: "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."
That sure seems right to me.