Allegations made that TEC Presiding Bishop knew former Benedictine monk was a pedophile when he joined TEC
Bethlehem Bishop says Jefferts Schori threatens bishops not to reveal multiple sexual abuse cover-ups
By David W. Virtue
June 27, 2011
A former Benedictine monk, who sexually abused students at a Roman Catholic Abbey, was allowed to join the Episcopal Church by Katharine Jefferts Schori while she was the Bishop of Nevada, according to reports VOL has received.
According to lawsuit papers filed last week by one of the abused boys known as John Doe 181, Fr. Bede Parry, 69, has admitted that he had inappropriate sexual relations with several members of the group at the northwest Missouri abbey in the 1980s.
In 2000, Fr. Parry underwent psychological testing relating to the possibility of entering another monastery. The results of this testing revealed that Fr. Parry is a sexual abuser who has the proclivity to reoffend with minors.
The test results were then provided to the Abbey, the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Episcopal Bishop for the Diocese of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Parry converted to The Episcopal Church under Jefferts Schori in 2004. The record shows that from 2000 to the present, All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas has employed Parry as a Music Director. He was made an assisting priest at All Saints in 2004 after Jefferts Schori received him into The Episcopal Church acknowledging his Catholic priesthood.
Fr. Parry, who led the Abbey Boy Choir of Conception Abbey from 1982 to 1987, told "The Kansas City Star" that he had sexual contact with five or six of the choir members as well as a student at a Minnesota university.
Many of the monks at St. John's abbey knew about Br. Parry's misconduct. On one occasion, Fr. Bob Koopmann made a joke about "blowing a student" that was clearly directed at Br. Parry.
A prominent clergy abuse attorney filed a lawsuit last week in the Circuit Court of Nodaway County claiming that, in 1987, the Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri, exposed a minor child to a priest who they knew had previously had sexual contact with minors, which resulted in the sexual abuse of the child. The child, now an adult and the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is identified in the complaint as John Doe 181 and lives in Missouri.
"This is a grave institutional failure," said Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who represents the plaintiff. "Bede Parry wasn't able to control himself, but it was the abbot and the top officials who knew that and made the choice to protect themselves at the peril of many kids and young adults."
Anderson noted that the cover-up of Parry's actions continues. "This guy is in a position as a choir director, in ministry with all the officials' knowledge, all of them keeping the secrets."
Anderson revealed that the plaintiff recently came forward because he had learned that Parry was still in active ministry.
"He was led to believe Parry was out of the ministry," Anderson stated. "He was told that they would take care of it. He just thought everything had been dealt with and that other kids couldn't get hurt. Now, he learns that the guy is in Las Vegas and in good standing and nobody knows."
Jon Haden, a Kansas City attorney who represents Conception Abbey, declined comment.
Conception Abbey is a Benedictine Monastery with a 30-acre campus. It is home to one of the largest Roman Catholic college seminaries in the nation and the largest priest training center in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Conception Seminary College draws students from about two dozen dioceses in the United States. The college is run by the monks of Conception Abbey.
Bishop Dan Edwards of the Nevada diocese says the church is considering further discipline because Parry is still a priest. Parry insists he's had no incidents since the one alleged in the suit. He says he has asked to be relieved of duty at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Las Vegas.
The Sr. Warden of All Saints said his resignation has been accepted with much sadness. "We hold no opinion to the allegations, and have assured Father Bede of that."
Last Thursday afternoon, Parry posted a note to friends and family members on his Facebook page alerting them about the lawsuit.
"At this time, I am deeply sorry for any pain that I have caused by my acts, and especially betraying your trust and friendship," he wrote.
When VOL wrote to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, we received the following response from her Communications Director at the Episcopal Church's national office, "We do not comment on lawsuits or allegations." All questions were referred to the diocese in Nevada.
Bishop Paul Marshall of the Diocese of Bethlehem commented about the Bede Parry affair, "Now let's be serious. When 815-level lawyers 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, and why do we look down on the RCC?
"As a rector I had to follow a priest who was simply passed along by another bishop, and as a bishop have had the same experience with a staff member who was protected by his bishop, with catastrophic results here.
"On paper, we are a one-strike church, but in reality, too many people have walked. 815(national church headquarters) refused comment on this story with principled-sounding obfuscation, which essentially tells it all, doesn't it? There is no more transparency at 815 than previously, as some commentators know to their pain."
In an e-mail to VOL, Marshall wrote, "The anger has subsided for the moment, and I come to the office incredibly sad. As you know, I think we are doomed as a church unless our life is vigorously centered in the Gospel and see our mission in only those terms that are consistent with it." The bishop said he and his staff are planning on writing a full-length piece (and eventually a book) on this subject.
SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) officials blasted the revelation. "Church officials - both Episcopalian and Catholic - owe their parishioners and the public an explanation and an apology for recklessly giving him access to children. They must also publicly and aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered Parry's crimes. To stay silent or do nothing is irresponsible.
"To current and former Las Vegas Catholics and Episcopalians, we say: If you have knowledge or suspicions - however old, small or seemingly insignificant - about Parry's crimes, it is your moral and civic duty to call police. Please summon the courage to do what's right, call law enforcement and hopefully prevent more devastated lives." SNAP is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
Fr. Bede Parry did not answer phone calls to his home or cell.
The following pictures reveal Bede Parry being received into the Episcopal Church in 2004 by then Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the 2004 Nevada Diocesan Convention. Bede Parry pictured during formal part of service.
The Rev. Bede James Parry is welcomed as a priest of the Episcopal Church.
Br. Bede Parry takes his vows
This photo shows Jefferts Schori celebrating in the middle with Parry on the far right, as part of the welcome ceremony.
These photos were taken at the 2004 Nevada Diocesan Convention:
The following is the sex abuse policy manual for All Saints Episcopal Church, Las Vegas where Bede Parry was employed.
Posted by David W. Virtue
June 28, 2011
"All Employees, will be screened during an interview for Specific characteristics which are seen as possible indicators of risk pertaining to child sexual abuse prior to employment.
Prospective employees who appear to be "at risk" under the Child sexual abuse factors will not be allowed to work with children. Any such determination will be held in strict confidence. and from attachment 1: "Person with some of the following characteristics may be at risk.
1. "Personal history as a victim of child sexual abuse or as an offender against children; including accusation, complaints, arrest, and/or conviction pertaining to child sexual abuse."
AS VOL reads it this church could decide to employ a convicted child abuse offender (it appears that the priest in this case had not been convicted, but under this policy it would have made no difference if he had been), and no one is allowed to know about it ("will be held in strict confidence"), as long as they do not work with children. How then can that be a safe church? The Episcopal safe church policy doesn't seem to be worth the paper it is written on.
----VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller contributed to this story.
FOOTNOTE: The Kansas City Star reports that Parry has resigned his position and has begun the process of renouncing his orders after admitting to committing sexual abuse against boys while serving as music director at a Roman Catholic monastery. Read story here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=14550
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