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Episcopal Church provides Fact Sheet on Nevada story

Episcopal Church provides Fact Sheet on Nevada story

From The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs, reportedly available since yesterday although we first read about it here at ENS. There is no permalink given to the following, just the general http://episcopalchurch.org/perspectives/.


Up until now TEC’s national office spokesperson “we do not comment on lawsuits or allegations” and had referred reporters to the diocese of Nevada. However, ENS reports

A day before Edwards’ most recent statement [yesterday/today – ed.], the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs posted a fact sheet, which said in part that “Edwards and his staff have reviewed the records and shared with appropriate commissions and the diocesan chancellor, and they confirmed there were no departures from established policies and procedures.” The fact sheet referred further questions to the diocese.

While Church Center may have “posted” the Fact Sheet, the source is not made clear. One of the statements is, “Fr. Bede has resigned from his duties at All Saints and tendered to me his resignation as a priest.” That would imply the Fact Sheet is from the Diocese of Nevada, not Church Center. The Presiding Bishop remains silent.

__________

Facts about the lawsuit concerning the Rev. Bede Parry

July 6th, 2011

  • A lawsuit has been filed against a Roman Catholic monastery in Missouri
  • In it, the Rev. Bede Parry, now an Episcopal priest at All Saints, Las Vegas, NV allegedly engaged in inappropriate relationships with youth in their late teens.
  • Parry served All Saints for 11 years as organist and assisting priest. In response to these allegations, Fr. Bede has resigned from his duties at All Saints and tendered to me his resignation as a priest.
  • Parry is not accused of any misconduct in Nevada, in the Episcopal Church, or in any context since the 1980’s.
  • The legal action is not a criminal prosecution but a civil suit for money damages.
  • All Saints, the Diocese of Nevada, the Episcopal Church and Parry are not parties to the law suit.
  • Parry was received in thee Episcopal Church in 2004 by then Bishop of Nevada, now Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.
  • Parry went to the Bishop of Nevada to talk about being received as a priest in the Episcopal Church which initiated a process as required in the Canons.
  • A required background check was initiated and completed.
  • Parry was forthcoming about the 1987 incident at Conception Abbey in the background check.
  • The Interim rector of All Saints’ and the senior warden were informed and aware. Parry went through interviews with the Commission on Ministry and was forthcoming about the 1987 event.
  • Parry was examined by the Commission on Ministry as required by the Canons and was recommended by the Commission on Ministry.
  • Parry’s reception as an Episcopal Priest was approved by the Standing Committee as per the canons.
  • As Bishop of Nevada, the Presiding Bishop followed all policies, procedures and practices. She insured that Safeguarding God’s Children, a program for preventing and responding to sexual abuse in children, was standard practice and was an integral part of parish work and ministry.
  • Diocese of Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards and his staff have reviewed the records and shared with appropriate commissions and the diocesan chancellor, and they confirmed there were no departures from established policies and procedures. As in all Diocese of Nevada workings, all canons were followed; all policies and procedures were followed, and continue to be followed.

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Cyberia Rune

"The Plaintiff claims..." and "No, we can't confirm that," and "You can sue a ham sandwich."

In court, the plaintiff will be expected to produce either a reliable witness who will testify that they personally sent a copy of an RC-ordered psych exam of Bede Parry to the Diocese of Nevada and confirm that it contains precisely what the plaintiff has claimed, or a certified copy of the report itself and a verified copy of the dated, signed letter that accompanied it on that journey, or... "Game Over."

Until then, I am reminded that the Holy Bible is a very large book, the Book of Common Prayer is not a pamphlet, the Canons weigh about as much as their namesakes, and all of them contain sections that refer to such difficult situations either directly or by inference. Yet it is the Gospel of John that's stuck in my mind, right now.

The woman taken in adultery: there was a mob, very irate, exceedingly demanding and quite forthright with their demand, and they asked Jesus to decide her fate. As John tells it, Jesus sat writing in the dust, and after a while, the irate mob dispersed. He then bid the woman to leave freely.

Without the information that will only be revealed in court, and only then if the case goes to trial, and only then if the judge allows its' disclosure, we don't know anything worth knowing about Bede Parry except that a plaintiff has said many nasty things about him, he's supposedly admitted something and whatever it was allegedly led to a restriction upon his parish duties which he never got anywhere near breaching, and the whole thing's very probably too weak and far too old to ever get a court docketing, let alone see trial.

So, until those points of fairness and truth come due for address in God's own good time, I'm left wondering... what did Jesus write?

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Benedict Varnum

I'm willing to answer Pete Haynsworth's rhetorical question earnestly: Yes, Pete, it is too harsh to interpret the authority of lay members of church structures as mere sycophancy. I feel it's inappropriate to speculate so dramatically about a topic that is clearly sensitive not only in its content, but to a number of the other posters. I also found it difficult to tell when you were being serious and when you were being rhetorical, and I feel this is a good opportunity in the midst of a charged set of topics to remember that patience, grace, and listening are key to good conversation -- especially during challenges.

I also want to offer that I've appreciated the tone in general. It's rare to find people willing to apologize to one another in electronic media, and this topic is certainly charged enough -- both in the topics it falls near to and in the various confusions about roles and responsibilities -- for there to have been significantly more "trolling" "flamebaiting" etc.

I do wonder if any of the hopes expressed here have been presented in other ways. Has there been a petition to the Diocese of Nevada?

I'm also struck that it's been noted that the presiding bishop has multiple roles in this situation, but we haven't acknowledged that those roles might interfere with one another. This can happen in their duties (as an institutional leader, she may have legal responsibilities; as a pastoral leader, those may differ -- previous comments have offered advice about which they feel take primacy). It can also happen in how her statements are received (for example, if she seeks a way forward for the church as its "presiding bishop," some perspectives might perceive that as the "bishop involved" is trying to deflect attention).

Speaking for myself, I'm becoming persuaded that an independent review might be very helpful, if only so as to be clear and public.

As for our fears about "just following process," I can only note in wonder that we always follow our best processes, and it is to be hoped that they continue to improve. I do hope the attention being given to programs like Keeping God's People Safe will result in better attention, funding of church improvements such as windowed-doors, etc.

I appreciate our continuing conversations here. I have read quite a bit without responding, because it really is confusing and challenging and it's difficult for me to find clarity in my own thoughts about what "should" be done. Truly a time for prayer, continued conversation and listening.

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Jim Naughton

If I may, Pete, whatever one thinks of Jim McGreevey, the issues in his case have nothing to do with sexual abuse. So the business about keeping one's hands to one's self seems out of line.

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IT

I do not think it is fair to say this is on par with the RC church coverups. As far as I can see, there is no accusation that the fmr Rev Mr Parry had any inappropriate contact with anyone while in an Episcopal collar. In fact, it appears that scrupulous efforts were taken to ensure no opportunity so presented itself.

Indeed, one might even speculate that freed of the oppression of the RC view of sex, he was able to find appropriate outlets for his sexual expression and was at lesser risk.

As David pointed out, the DioNev apparently knew of only one "inappropriate event" with a late teenager that was not found worthy of criminal prosecution. They considered this and decided that Parry was potentially redeemable. They decided he could be forgiven, in part also based on his ongoing service in DioNev. That decided, they still erred on the side of caution to eliminate any opportunities.

Again, was this the wrong decision? Hindsight is 20/20, but given what we think they knew at the time, and given what appears to have happened since, it appears that Mr Parry served faithfully.

And, when it came out, so to speak, that there were more than the one case in his history, and that he had presumably misled the DioNv, he resigned.

We don't know the facts of his "inappropriate interactions", do we? Perhaps he told them that the one case he admitted, was a consensual interaction (16 is age of consent in many states). Perhaps he told them that it was a youth angry at him for some reason and making a false claim. We don't know.

And that's the problem. As Paige pointed out, the bumbling nature of the response from the higher ups is what's causing the problem here. Full transparency from the get-go is how to handle a crisis of this sort. Admit mistakes, and move on. And THAT is the only parallel to the disaster in the RC church, and a lesson that a smart woman like the PB should have learned.

Because really, there isn't anything here from the TEC standpoint-- assuming their statement is correct.

I think she must be plagued with lawyers.

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Pete Haynsworth

At whatever pace the investigation of this unfortunate matter proceeds, perhaps the following issues can be considered:

* Parry very likely had strong advocacy for his reception as a priest, often a highly political process. From whom did this advocacy come and what was its basis? Was it because he had a strong command of and could articulate particularly well what it means to be part of the church Catholic universal? Was he a especially fine organist and choirmaster? Was he willing to 'take' the least convenient services? Something else?

Is it known whether Parry approached, say, the Lutherans, who took a pass on him?

* In his continuing research, Bishop Edwards might extract and and disclose the number of applicants to clerical ministry in the Nevada diocese during the presiding bishop's tenure there. How many were in fact received/ordained? How many were turned away? What were, in general, the reasons for applicant failure?

Just because the many folks of the diocese's Standing Committee and Commission on Ministry were involved in Parry's acceptance doesn't mean that it was a 'good' process. Is it too harsh to percieve that such governing bodies are often populated by sycophants who are wholly informed by whatever leadership in place (here, the bishop), good or bad?

More broadly, among the sweltering mass of pewsitters are many who have managed to keep their hands to themselves but still consider themselves to be unworthy for ordained ministry. And they might be now wondering how gents like Parry - and McGreeley in Newark - do-or-might pass muster. Is the Episcopal Church _that_ hard up for priests?

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