Offending priest handled “by the book” by Episcopal Church leader
The Episcopal Church’s diocese of Nevada sought to calm an uproar over a former Benedictine monk who admitted sexual indiscretions with a parishioner before he was ordained an Episcopal priest by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now leader of the 2.3 million member U.S. church.
“It looks to me like she handled the situation by the book,” Bishop Dan Edwards said of Jefferts Schori’s actions regarding Fr. Bede Parry, a church organist and former Episcopal priest.
Jefferts Schori became the 450-year-old church’s first female leader when she was appointed presiding bishop in 2006.
Parry, 69, is a defendant in a Missouri lawsuit filed last month over his admitted sexual relationship with a male parishioner at a summer camp run by a Roman Catholic monastery. He has since resigned from the priesthood and from All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas, Edwards said.
Jefferts Schori ordained Parry in 2004, aware that he had offended while a Benedictine monk at Conception Abbey, which runs a large monastery in Northwest Missouri.
Jefferts Schori and a committee of clergy and lay people were also aware that Parry went for treatment, but that a subsequent psychological examination in 2000 found he was a sexual abuser who had a proclivity to reoffend with minors.
Jefferts Schori forbade Parry from having contact with minors, under the church’s decade-old policy, “Safeguarding God’s Children,” that requires windows on all doors and does not allow children to go somewhere with a single adult.
The Episcopal Church has declined comment, referring all inquiries to the Nevada diocese.
“It’s deeply upsetting, deeply upsetting,” Edwards said of the situation surrounding Parry. “A situation like this gives rise to a lot of feelings, and sometimes a lot of fantasies of things that have not happened.”
There was no evidence that Parry had offended again since the 1987 incident, though the lawsuit brought by “John Doe” said there had been other prior incidents of which the Abbot at Conception Abbey was aware.
“As I review what was done from 2002 to 2004, I find no fault with the actions of any of our people, lay or ordained. The bishop, priests, and lay people of Nevada kept children safe and they were true to our belief that people can be redeemed,” Edwards said in a statement.
“It is ironic that some have taken this incident as a pretext to attack Bishop Katharine for laxity in enforcing rules for the safety of children. Bishop Katharine introduced Safeguarding God’s Children standards and training here. No bishop has ever done so much to rid our diocese of clergy misconduct or to establish and enforce rules to preserve healthy boundaries.”
Parry suffers from congestive heart failure, and has virtually no pension, Edwards said.
According to the lawsuit filed by Jeff Anderson’s Minneapolis law firm, Parry joined the monastic community in Missouri in 1973. He was secretary to the abbot and taught, while directing the choir. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1983. He received treatment at Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico, remaining in the southwest at various churches, before switching to the Episcopal Church.
(this changes subsequent references to Jefferts Schori)