This is a fairly educational piece, because the notes, on the surface, don’t seem all that abnormal. But as the article says:
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.
I’d suggest going to read the article and consider what we see in the letters and postcards in terms of how a predator can use societal pressure to both keep his victims silent, but also continue the abuse.
I also found it interesting to consider the power dynamics at play, not just for the children, but also the young adult-aged students. We tend to forget that there are plenty of victims who were not necessarily children when the sexual assaults took place, but they were very similarly overpowered. The constant reminders of how important he was only served to remind the victims how a bad word from him would ruin any chance they had of reaching their goal of becoming a priest.
It’s very similar to what we see with young athletes and performers, above and below the legal age of consent. Someone with the power to help you reach your dream, and the power to crush it. That kind of power over people is going to attract some predators. It’s irresistible.
Perhaps most of all though, the article should serve to remind us that predators are skilled manipulators. They will not come looking like a suspicious person, but rather one of the most seemingly generous and charming people we’ve met.
If they looked and acted like we suspect, they wouldn’t get away with it for years.