Missouri and Vatican City Priests accused of child abuse.

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Conception, Mo — The Conception Abbey, 95 miles north of Kansas City, removed eight priests from its ministry for sexually abusing children. Priests and brothers who served at the abbey in the past seven years did not provide information on the allegations according to personnel files from the FBI.

According to the AP, David Clohessy, volunteer leader of Missouri Survivors Network, says he doubts the list is complete and hopes the victims come forward and give details before putting other innocent children and adults in harm’s way. The abbey added that in 2011 policies were made to protect visitors, guests, and children – even hiring a victim advocate to investigate all allegations of abuse.

As the church continues to deal with this issue locally, it has been globally dealt in the past as well. The AP reported sexual misconduct in Vatican City, earlier this week on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

James Grein, 61, at his house in Sterling, Va., Friday, July 26, 2019, holds a Florida postcard sent to him when he was 15 years old by now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Letters and postcards from McCarrick wrote to three men he allegedly sexually abused and harassed show how he groomed his victims, experts say. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — At first glance, the handwritten postcards and letters look innocuous, even warm, sometimes signed off by “Uncle T.” or “Your uncle, Father Ted.”

But taken in context, the correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he is accused of sexually abusing or harassing is a window into the way a predator grooms his prey, according to two abuse prevention experts who reviewed it for The Associated Press. Full of flattery, familiarity and boasts about his own power, the letters provide visceral evidence of how a globe-trotting bishop made young, vulnerable men feel special — and then allegedly took advantage of them.

The AP is exclusively publishing correspondence McCarrick wrote to three men ahead of the promised release of the Vatican’s own report into who knew what and when about his efforts to bed would-be priests. Access to an archbishop for young men seeking to become priests “is a key piece of the grooming process here,” said one of the experts, Monica Applewhite.

Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick, 89, in February after a church investigation determined he sexually abused minors as well as adult seminarians. The case has created a credibility crisis for the Catholic hierarchy since McCarrick’s misconduct was reported to some U.S. and Vatican higher-ups, but he nevertheless remained an influential cardinal until his downfall last year.

McCarrick has declined to comment on his case, except to say in an initial statement last year that he was innocent but accepted the Holy See’s decision to remove him from ministry. McCarrick lawyer J. Michael Ritty declined to comment on the correspondence.

The testimony of James Grein, 61, the first child McCarrick baptized, was key to the Vatican case. The son of close family friends, Grein told church investigators that McCarrick began sexually abusing him when he was 11, including during confession and at family weddings and holiday celebrations.

In an interview with AP, Grein said McCarrick’s exalted place in the family over three generations created pressure on him to visit with McCarrick during weekends away from boarding school and visits when he would be molested.

“If I didn’t go to see Theodore I was always going to be asked by my brothers and sisters or my dad, ‘Why didn’t you go see him?'”

That family dynamic is present in the postcards McCarrick sent to Grein – notes without postmarks that were included in letters McCarrick sent to his father.

“Time is getting close for your visit back east,” McCarrick wrote to Grein while he was at boarding school at the Woodside Priory School in California in the 1970s. “I’ll be calling home one of these days to check on arrangements.” He signed the note “Love to all, Your uncle, Fr. Ted.”

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