WASHINGTON (RNS) The Episcopal Church is rejecting charges that its top leader, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, mishandled the ordination of a former priest who is now accused of sexual abuse.Capello tip to Deacon Kandra at The Deacon's Bench.
Jefferts Schori has remained silent on the matter, which surfaced after an alleged victim filed suit last month [why is this only now in the news?] against a Benedictine monastery in Missouri where the priest, the Rev. Bede Parry, once lived.
Parry, a former Catholic monk, was ordained as an Episcopal priest in Nevada in 2004, when Jefferts Schori was the local bishop before her 2006 election as presiding bishop.
Her successor in Nevada, Bishop Dan Edwards, said Tuesday (July 5) that a thorough review of church records shows that Jefferts Schori "handled the situation perfectly appropriately."
"The spin on this, that Bishop Katharine failed to follow the rules to protect children, is highly ironic," said Edwards, who noted that the Diocese of Nevada has wrestled with problems of clergy misconduct. "She has done more to clean up this diocese than anybody." [similar claims have been made - falsely - against Pope Benedict XVI when he did more clean up the Church than anybody]
While the Roman Catholic Church has weathered years of allegations from victims and lawyers of mishandling abuse cases, the issue has not similarly roiled the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church, or Jefferts Schori's leadership [in no small part because the lawyers and the media haven't worked together against the Episcopal Church to get at the scandal present there, too. Why? If their concern is with the victims, where is their outrage about this case?].
Edwards said the process that accepted Parry as an Episcopal priest was careful and long, stretching from 2002 until 2004. Parry told church leaders, including Jefferts Schori, that in 1987 he had inappropriately touched an adolescent in Missouri, and that the police had been called but charges had not been filed [Where is the editorial outrage? At the same time, where is the background on his status as a Catholic monk? Was he a monk at that time?] . He also disclosed that he had gone to counseling.
Episcopal leaders found that there had been no other incidents involving Parry, and subjected Parry to their own, routine psychological testing, Edwards said. They concluded that he did not fit the profile of a pedophile.
"Nonetheless, Bishop Katharine directed that Bede Parry would not be allowed to have contact with minors in the ministry," Edwards told Religion News Service. "She gave that directive to people who oversaw him in the ministry."
A statement issued by the Nevada diocese after the lawsuit was filed raised more questions than it answered [such as? Had this been a Catholic matter, these questions certainly would have been raised in the article. Again, where is the outrage and the demand for transparency and a policy of permanent removal from ministry?], according to victims' advocates, and said nothing of Jefferts Schori's role in the matter.
"Parishioners deserve the whole truth about why (she) kept silent about Parry's crimes and why she ordained him," said David Clohessy, national director the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) [At least SNAP isn't focused solely on Catholics].
"Many church officials, not just Catholic bishops, fixate on self-preservation rather than on preventing abuse and healing victims and exposing the truth," he said [It's as the Church has said for years: this not just a Catholic problem, but a societal problem that must be addressed in and by society].
Requests for comment from Episcopal Church headquarters in New York were referred to the Nevada diocese, which Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem, Pa., called "obfuscation" and a failure of leadership.
"On paper, we are a one-strike church, but in reality, too many people have walked," Marshall wrote on Episcopal Cafe, an independent liberal-leaning website [one might think that would go without saying].
The lawsuit does not name Parry, the Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Nevada but instead targets the Conception Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery and seminary in northwestern Missouri where the alleged abuse occurred [What? I suppose then he was a monk at the time of the abuse. Why it goes without saying in the article is a good question. Again, where the outrage at the failure to enforce the Episcopal Church's one-strick policy?].
The civil suit also contends that the results of psychological testing in 2000 showed that Parry was a serial abuser who was likely to offend again [against children, but why mention that here? If the article were directed against the Catholic Church you can be certain it would be in the article (and at the beginning of it, too, and on the front page and everywhere in the news)], and that this information was shared with the Episcopal Church prior to his ordination [and they ordained him anyway].
"I'm really skeptical that the report ever existed. But if it did, we've never seen it," said Edwards. [Where is the editorial doubt and indignation?]
After the suit was filed last month, Parry resigned from the priesthood, Edwards said. He had worked as an organist at All Saints' Church in Las Vegas and his pastoral care mostly involved senior citizens.
Writing on this story at Get Religion, Mollie wonders - as do I - why this story is getting little media attention. I would maintain it is a subtle proof of the anti-Catholic sentiments of most secular news agencies. Is there a better, more acceptable explanation?
Mollie provides a link to the initial story in the Kansas City Star and provides this little and insightful summary, again with my emphases and comments:
It seems that a former Roman Catholic monk, a Benedictine, who directed a boys choir in Missouri admitted he’d had “inappropriate” sexual relations with members of the group. I’m not really sure what would make for appropriate sexual relations, but there you go. One of the “five or six” members of the choir that Bede Parry admitted being involved with filed a lawsuit against Conception Abbey, alleging that the abbey knew that Parry had abused others but covered it up [why did the Huffinghton Post article wait to mention the abuse was done against minors until the middle of the article when many readers may well have stopped reading? And why did this not matter to Jefferts Schori? And where is the outrage?]. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.But - as you might expect - that's not all. Mollie brings in this little bit of information the Huffington Post does not, again with my emphases:
Rest assured, however, that Episcopalians and Anglicans are discussing this case, though, and there’s even a bishop in Pennsylvania who says this is just the tip of the iceberg and that Jefferts Schori threatens bishops not to reveal multiple sexual abuse cover-ups [where is the outrage?!]. For those interested in that angle, there’s more on him here.Let me echo again Mollie's final question, with my emphases:
So help me out here. What prevents this from being a mainstream news story? Why aren’t the major media outlets interested in this story about the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church’s role in a sex abuse scandal? Isn’t the Episcopal Church based in New York City?Yes, why, indeed?
Whatever the reason, it's probably the same why these stories have also not gone public first published in October of 2007: