The Kansas City Star reports that a former Benedictine monk and Catholic priest who is now an Episcopal priest 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.
Bede Parry, 69, served All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas since 2000 and was received in 2004. The abuse — which took place between 1973 and 1979 at Conception Abbey, in Missouri — affected “five or six” separate victims, one of whom recently filed suit against the Abbey and the Benedictine Order. The suit alleges that he also has “inappropriate sexual contact” with a student at St. John’s University in Minnesota in 1982 and again at the Abbey in 1987.
Parry joined the monastic community at Conception Abbey in 1973 and lived there through 1979. In 1978 and 1979, Parry assisted with the Abbey Boy Choir as an accompanist.
From 1979 through 1982, Parry attended the St. John’s University School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn. He returned to Conception Abbey in 1982 and served as secretary to the abbot. He also taught classes at the seminary and directed the choir, made up of males ages 7 to 18. Parry was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1983.
The plaintiff attended a residential choir camp at the abbey in summer 1987, when Parry directed the choir. Parry had sexual contact with him there, according to the lawsuit….
…After the plaintiff reported the abuse in 1987, Parry was sent for three months of treatment at Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico. Then he stayed in the Southwest, working at Lutheran and Catholic parishes.
Parry admitted the abuse to the newspaper but the whole story began to come out when he was confronted by a survivor of sexual abuse, also a former student at St. John’s.
Parry said he first opened up about his sexual misconduct last fall, when a Seattle area man named Pat Marker showed up at his doorstep. Marker, a sex abuse victim who had attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Minnesota, had learned about Parry while researching other cases from St. John’s.
“I confronted Bede with the allegations … that took place at St. John’s, and he admitted to the misconduct and expressed remorse but did not disclose any information about the (Conception Abbey) boys choir at that time,” Marker said. “After learning he directed the choir, I confronted him again. At first he denied anything but later admitted to misconduct.”
When he sought ordination in the Episcopal Church, he told the truth about the 1987 incident but did not disclose the other incidents. The diocesan bishop at the time was now Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
After serving about two years as the music director at All Saints, Parry 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.”
Parry has resigned his position and has begun the process of renouncing his orders. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:
He said he told the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada of his resignation as the Missouri lawsuit became public Thursday morning.
Bishop Dan Edwards, who heads the Nevada diocese, confirmed the resignation and said that because Parry remains a priest, the diocese is investigating internally to determine whether any further action needs to be taken against him.
“Certainly we regard this situation with grave concern,” Edwards said. “We will need to be sure we are following the right process to be fair to all concerned.”
Parry said he also asked the diocese to relieve him of his priest duties.
A spokeswoman at the Episcopal Church’s national office said Thursday that “we do not comment on lawsuits or allegations” and referred questions to the diocese in Nevada.
UPDATE: Nevada priest admits abuse