Why did the Episcopal Church knowingly ordain a man accused of sex abuse?

That’s a question a lot of people are asking.

But the Episcopal Church is now defending the bishop at the center of this storm.


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.

Jefferts Schori has remained silent on the matter, which surfaced after an alleged victim filed suit last month 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.”

Read on for more details and background.

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17 responses to “Why did the Episcopal Church knowingly ordain a man accused of sex abuse?”

  1. It doesn’t matter to the media , they are not the Roman Catholic Church, so therefore, not in the radar for scandal (in the media sense of the word).

  2. This stinks. It stinks when a bishop in the Catholic church overlooks an abuser’s offense, and it stinks just as much when it happens in another denomination. Sad situation.

  3. I don’t know if it’s unseemly. A thing is what it is, and we are certainly in a long season of penance and must look squarely at what has occurred in our church. But that shouldn’t preclude us from being able to acknowledge a story in another church. Predators, though, are often slick manipulators who know how to work a system, and a bishop’s office does not automatically mean he (or in this case she) is able to spot every red flag. But hadn’t his background been thoroughly checked? I am sickened to know the guy was a Catholic monk, first. It’s all very troubling.

  4. “She has done more to clean up this diocese than anybody.”

    So what needed to be cleaned up? Details?

  5. Sounds like she knowingly hired an abuser with a poor psychological profile and just planned to keep him away from kids. Abusers are just like most criminals. Assume they didn’t get caught on their first offense and there are more crimes than you know about. Are these church leaders just stupid or desperate or arrogant?

  6. @Elizabeth Scalia, when put that way, I do have to agree with you to a certain extent. While predators are often slick manipulators, they are just as often hidden in plain sight and for whatever reason, others choose not to see them. This happens in homes, schools, churches – so I am not singling any one institution out.

    As for not being able to acknowledge – true enough, but perhaps it is the headline, with all due respect to Deacon Greg, is a bit off the mark for me.

    Ultimately Steve, comment #3, put it very well, but rather than say it stinks, I say it is a tragedy.

    FWIW, I do know that there are women clergy in TEC who have labored long and hard to reveal and heal sexual abuse in that denomination. In fact I know someone who has been involved in that work and there is something to be said about the overall way in which it was done. (Even if this case occurred.)

  7. i am pretty sure that this man was a professed monk/priest at Conception Abbey for many years and now a victim is suing the Abbey, so there is much more to all this. Perhaps a google search will give more information with his past as a Benedictine monk of the Abbey if one is interested in “the more to the story.”

  8. The Presiding Bishop has demonstrated an appalling lack of respect for tradition, orthodoxy and even the Canons of the Church during her tenure. It comes as no surprise that the Canons which specifically relate to the welcoming of clergy from another denomination were apparently violated in a rather flagrant manner in this case.

    Fr. Michael+

  9. I detest Bishop Schori, who is frequently hypocritical, but consider the known facts.

    Fran, this man wasn’t a known pedophile when professed and ordained. I don’t know how old he is, but 24 years ago he “inappropriately touched” an adolescent, i.e., someone anywhere from 12 to 19 years old. In this climate, it is easier to adopt the Chinese Communist trial outcome: Self-abasement, “confession,” and acceptance of humiliating punishment.

    DEFINE “inappropriately touched,” please. One US bishop claims he was sexually abused, because his parish priest hugged him on stage at his high school graduation!

    Schori ran the man through psychological profiling, in addition to the counseling he received before he left the Catholic Church, and assigned him to geriatric parishioners. She minimized temptation, and made him useful.

    Frankly, I would not be surprised to learn he is now geriatric himself! Many accusations are much older than 24 years; dead priests are not able to defend themselves against either the truth OR the fantasies of the mentally ill half a century later. And frequently accusations come from pathetic people, not ruined by abuse, but by illness, substance abuse, fantasies.

    There was real sexual abuse by a handful of vile men steeped in the Freudian idea that children want to be sexually active. There is also real abuse of the legal system by lawyers “working” on a contingency basis and collecting up to 70% of the awards made to victims.

  10. From the article:

    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. He also disclosed that he had gone to counseling.

    So. To sum up. At the height of the sex abuse crisis roiling the United States, within months after the Dallas Charter was enacted, when the religious news around the world was dominated by this scandal, a former Catholic priest with an admitted history of “inappropriate touching” — so inappropriate, police were summoned — was ordained to become an Episcopal priest.

    Sure. Makes perfect sense.

  11. Wait a minute, I thought that part of the problem in the Catholic Church was it was an old boys club and that if women had been priests, there would not have been a scandal….

  12. Schori cleaned up the Diocese of Nevada? Have you not looked at what she has done to the Episcopal Church? Since she became the Presiding Bishop, SHE has single handedly done more to destroy the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion than any person in its history!

    Dc. Michael

  13. The media doesn’t care about this because it isn’t a Catholic Bishop. Have you seen any news on the matter? I haven’t… If it happened In A Catholic setting, you bet it would be a National news so sure…Episcopal Bishops know this and cover up for each other… Sad.

  14. Fran Rossi Szypylczyn,

    As the TEC Bishop of Bethlehem Pa indicted just a week ago this is sadly common in the TEC. His remarks are a bombshell in this whole story.

    For good or for bad there are two different standards. A TEC Bishop now deceased went to a temp leave of absence last decade after he admitting having a improper sexual relationship with a teenage boy in his flock. After a year the community wanted him back and so he became Bishop of Navajoland again. Of course in the background this a a major theme with Congregations and yes very manipulative child abusers. Maybe it was the right call but its a different standard and no one batted a eye

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