BREAKING: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issues statement on Bede Parry

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issues statement

[November 16, 2011] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement concerning Bede Parry.

____________________________________________________________________

Bede James Parry was serving as organist and music director at All Saints Church, Las Vegas, when I became aware of him. His arrival preceded my own in the Diocese of Nevada.

He approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time, he told me of being dismissed from the monastery in 1987 for a sexual encounter with an older teenager, and indicated that it was a single incident of very poor judgment. The incident was reported to civil authorities, who did not charge him. He told of being sent to a facility in New Mexico, serving as a priest thereafter both in New Mexico and in Nevada, and recently (2002) being asked to formalize his separation from the monastery.

In consultation with other diocesan leadership and the chancellor, we explored the possibilities and liabilities of receiving him. I wrote to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Santa Fe, receiving brief responses from each bishop, who indicated no problematic behavior. I wrote to Conception Abbey, from whom I received only an acknowledgement that he had served there, been sent for treatment to a facility in New Mexico, and had been dismissed for this incident of misconduct. Neither then nor later did I receive a copy of any report of a psychological examination in connection with his service in the Roman Catholic Church. His departure from the Roman Catholic priesthood had to do with his desire to take up secular employment.

Parry was required to fulfill all the expectations of the canons regarding reception of a priest from another communion in historic succession. He did undergo a psychological exam in the Diocese of Nevada, was forthcoming about the incident he had reported to me, and did not receive a negative evaluation. His background check showed no more than what he had already told us. He was forthcoming about the previous incident in his interviews with the Commission on Ministry and with the Standing Committee.

I made the decision to receive him, believing that he demonstrated repentance and amendment of life and that his current state did not represent a bar to his reception. I was clear that his ministry would be limited to an assisting role, under the supervision of another priest, and like any other diocesan leader, he would not be permitted to work alone with children. Since that time, as far as I am aware, he has served faithfully and effectively as a minister of the gospel and priest of this Church.

The records of his reception are retained by the Diocese of Nevada, and further questions should be directed to Bishop Dan Edwards.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Comments (9)

Knowing that the PB is a person of great personal integrity, I accept what she has said as fact. I only wish the statement had been made sooner.

Thank you for your comment, but please leave your name in the future.

Kurt Wiesner

There now. That wasn't so hard, was it? Why not in July?

What's missing and what I'd like to have seen in the letter is an offer to make amends to anyone who has experienced abuse from Bede Parry or anyone serving in the Episcopal Church and an invitation to them to step forward with their stories, along with a promise of confidentiality and compassionate treatment from the church. As I see it, Bishop Katharine missed an opportunity to reinforce the message that all accusations of abuse will be taken seriously by the Episcopal Church.

Was Bede Parry not permitted to work with children at all, or was he under only the ordinary constraints of any adult member of the church not to work alone with children?

Bishop Dan Edwards' letter states:

Nonetheless, the bishop added the restriction that he should not have contact with minors.

I can almost hear the accusations of nit-picking already. I greatly admire Bishop Katharine, too, but bear with me as I take my place as somewhat of a devil's advocate here. I doubt that I will be the only person thinking and stating what I've said here.

June Butler

In spite of my esteem for the PB, the fact that this statement wasn't offered earlier raises suspicion that something is being left out. I'm not trying to suggest that this is the case. I'm merely pointing out that the PB's hesitation makes it appear this way and that is troublesome.

-Cullin R. Schooley

I am very glad to have this statement. I take the Presiding Bishop at her word. Previously, there had been no word at which to take her. Now there is, and I find it persuasive.

I, too, will take her at her word. However much we are a people of forgiveness and restoration, I do not think we are allowed to put innocents at risk unbeknownst to them.

Parry should have been welcomed as a member, but told he could not be a priest based on his admission. However slight the chance was of his re-offending, it was not a chance worth taking. Having crossed the line once as a steward of the well being of a person placed in his care he forfeited any future place in the ordered ministry.

Thank you, Bishop Katharine. Thank you EC for publishing this.

I confess, now I'm intensely curious why this statement came out now, specifically, and not months ago.

That said, in itself the statement is clear, explanatory and seems conclusive.

I will rest better re TEC, and TEC's Presiding Bishop, because of its publication.

Onward and upward, following Christ...

JC Fisher

One ‘incident’ with one 'older teenage' victim and yet treatment at the now infamous Servants of the Paraclete treatment centers?

Reads like the same evasiveness which bishop enablers & their legal teams in other churches have used to mollify their flocks.

Not buying it.

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