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Lawsuit charges US Presiding Bishop knowingly ordained a paedophile: The Church of England Newspaper, June 29, 2011 June 29, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has declined to respond to questions concerning her ordination to the priesthood of a paedophile.  Her silence has prompted questions from liberals and conservatives in the church about what she knew of the Rev. Bede Parry’s confessed abuse of boys, and when she knew it.

Last week Fr. Parry resigned as an assistant priest on the staff of All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas.  On June 23 he was named as a sexual predator in a lawsuit filed by a Missouri man against Conception Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery and seminary in Missouri.

Fr. Parry admitted he had abused the victim in 1987 in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Kansas City Star, but told both newspapers he had not reoffended since that time.

The lawsuit, filed in Nodaway County Circuit Court in Missouri, alleges that Parry joined the Benedictine order in 1973, leaving the abbey from 1979 to 1982 to study at St. John’s University School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota.  Upon his return to the abbey, Br. Parry was appointed secretary to the abbot and director of the choir.  In 1983 he was ordained to the priesthood.

The lawsuit contends that between 1973 and 1979, Br. Parry confessed to abusing three boys, and in 1981 confessed to having had sexual contact with a student at St. John’s.  Br. Parry allegedly confessed his actions to his ecclesial superiors at Conception Abbey and St John’s College, but was permitted to remain in the order if he underwent psychological counseling.

The 1987 abuse case was the fifth reported to the abbey, the lawsuit said.  After learning of their son’s abuse at the hands of Fr. Parry, the parents of the choir boy demanded the abbot, Fr. Jerome Hanus, take action.

Fr. Hanus, who now serves as Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, told the parents Fr. Parry had had a “mental breakdown” and would undergo psychiatric counseling.  The abbey sent Parry to church-run clinic for abusers at the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico. After he completed his stay, he was suspended for three years and forbidden to return to the abbey.  Fr. Parry found work in the Southwest at Lutheran and Catholic parishes as a music director.

In 2000, the lawsuit states, Fr. Parry underwent psychological testing after he applied for admission to another monastery.  “The results of this testing revealed that Fr. Parry was a sexual abuser who had the proclivity to reoffend with minors,” the lawsuit stated, adding this information was shared with the abbey, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada.

Fr. Parry acknowledged the truth of these allegations, but said the Episcopal Diocese had not been informed of his history in 2000, when he began working as music director  at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Las Vegas.

However, he told the Episcopal Bishop of Nevada, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori of the 1987 incident when he applied to be received as priest in the Episcopal Church in 2002.

In an interview with The Star, Fr. Parry stated the allegations in the lawsuit were true.  “When I left Conception Abbey in ’87, it was for sexual misconduct,” he said. “But that was all that was ever said or known.”

After serving as music director for two years at All Saints, Parry said he noticed “they needed clergy, and I felt called. I talked to the bishop, and she accepted me. And I told her at the time that there was an incident of sexual misconduct at Conception Abbey in ’87. The Episcopal Church doesn’t have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy, so it didn’t seem like I was any particular threat. She said she’d have to check the canons, and she did.”

On June 23, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a rally outside of All Saints Church to demand the Episcopal Church “come clean about why they hired [Parry] despite clear ‘red flags’ in his past,” and to “aggressively seek out others he hurt and prod them to call police and prosecutors.”

“The reason that this is so horrific is that the Episcopal Church authorities knew about Father Parry’s history, and yet they still allowed him to come and work here,” SNAP president Barbara Blaine told reporters.

Joelle Casteix, the western regional director of SNAP asked church officials not to “split hairs, make excuses, and be silent.”

“Shepherds have a duty to protect [their] flock, help law enforcement, warn unsuspecting families and work hard to find and help others who’ve been wounded,” she said.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop told The Church of England Newspaper, “We do not comment on lawsuits or allegations” and referred questions to the Diocese of Nevada.  The Diocese of Nevada did not respond to questions as of our going to press.

In comments on the initial press accounts of the lawsuit printed on the liberal church blog, Episcopal Café, hitherto stalwart supporters of the Presiding Bishop urged her to explain her actions.

The Bishop of Bethlehem, (Pennsylvania), the Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall, was not surprised by the church’s response.  When lawyers for the national church “threaten and cajole diocesan bishops not to reveal multiple sex-abuse cover-ups at the highest level lest former leaders be embarrassed, what can we expect?” he wrote on the Episcopal Café website.

“On paper, we are a one-strike church, but in reality, too many people are walked. [The national church] refused comment on this story with principled-sounding obfuscation, which essentially tells it all, doesn’t it?” Bishop Marshall said.


1. mcadey - June 29, 2011

I have written about sexual abuse of a kids,at the episcopalian church in chicago,back in 1997.It all fell on deaf hear.They did know how to stonewall,and pretend as if nothing was wrong,or i was lieing.This church is called the church of the atonement,it is on the 57th hundred block of North Kenmore st.I wasnt suprised when Rev Johnson suddenly quit.The basement of that church was a turture chamber.All members of that church only come to church on sundays,so as to sexually molest those kids.I was offered the opportunity to pick and choose,which of the kids i was interested in,by the XXX who was in charge of the youth ministry.I once discribed the basement of that church as a dungeonThe nuns that were affiliated with that church,was able to realise that i was not a pedophile,she quickly dissociated herself from that church.She claimed to belong to a religious order called companion of st luke.Based on what i witnessed there.It is a sad story,that nobody in chicago,was interested,to follow up on the allegation.This was during the time when Griswould was,then, the bishop of chicago.Now you see what his succeesor did?I hope that this will be the begining of the end of episcopal church.I hope that they are sued to their last dollar,so that they will have no money left to further their sodomaniac agenda.

2. richardlund - June 29, 2011

Hopefully, she will be open and honest about this. We certainly do not need another church leader hiding in her ivory tower. And we need the Diocese to also be forthcoming. Can American Christians be disappointed yet again by church leaders?

3. fatherleenelson - June 29, 2011

That headline could not be more wrong on so many different levels.

First – she has no ability to “ordain” anyone, since she is not a bishop, and could not possibly be.

Second – Parry was simply received into TEC as a priest.

Lastly – the whole thing stinks to high heaven.

C. McCallion-Davies - July 6, 2011

Your first two points are completely irrelevant. No matter what the context, or the position of the person who had the contact, anyone within a church who has knowledge of ;sexual misconduct’ involving someone seeking to work in a position which involves contact with children should immediately investigate the circumstances. If it involves abuse of children, they should not be allowed to be in a position of (actual or even apparent) trust. The phrase ‘sexual misconduct’ is misleading – it could be anything from a large collection of pornorgraphy, to flashing, to an affair with an adult, to child abuse …. bit the bullet and add the words ‘with a minor’.

As for the last comment – it doesn’t stink high enough, obviously or it would never have come to this.

4. dan davis - July 1, 2011

from dan davis concerned episcopalion
which of these replies are correct and which are just
political rederic? (could not find spell check)

audre myers - July 1, 2011

The only thing to do is as much research as possible to ensure that the information in the article is correct and accurate. After that, unforunately, one has to ask one’s self if they can stay in a denomination which clearly supports their own agenda and ignores Jesus’s agenda.

I pray for all Episcopalians as they examine their hearts and listen for the Lord’s instruction.

audre myers

5. Treading Grain » Post Topic » Lawsuit Charges Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop of Knowingly Ordaining a Pedophile - July 5, 2011

[…] Read the rest. […]

6. H. B. Winn - July 5, 2011

There is a link to the full text legal petition at http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19

Item 28, pps 4-5 states the Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts-Shori received a copy of the psychiatric examination stating Parry was likely to re-offend and he had told her of one offense, yet she ordained him.

The Anglican Curmudgeon has outlined the violations of church canons that she committed in ordaining Parry: http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2011/06/troubling-questions-raised-by-bishops.html

While in Nevada, Shori also invited John Spong to Nevada to share his sexual and theological garbage.

It is obvious she has no respect for God’s moral law, church law or national law.

7. discerningone - July 6, 2011

As an Episcopalian I am concerned about this story, but as a lawyer I also know that the story may be far more complicated than as stated in this article. Perhaps solutions lie in all Chrisitian churches creating a data base regarding their priests and ministers where they can openly submit information as to existence of such allegations and the outcomes of their investigations into them. Clearly there will be false allegations occasionally made for a variety of reasons (financial motiviations, psychaiatrically unbalanced individuals, etc…) the obligation the church has is to conduct an inquiry, similar to what other authorities do, to determine the validity of the charges.

The fact that certain pedophiles have found used their “wearing the cloth” to commit heinous acts of child abuse cannot be tolerated. However, due process rights also exist for the accused.

C. McCallion-Davies - July 6, 2011

Absolutely spot on – a thorough investigation and a register to prevent anyone found guilty of having the same opportunity elsewhere.

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