October 30, 2011


Abbey Covered Up Abuse After Shooting

After a shooter killed two monks at Conception Abbey in June of 2002, the leadership at the abbey had to decide whether to disclose that they had knowledge of sexual misconduct by at least one member of its monastic community.  Instead of doing the right thing, Abbot Gregory Polan and Mr. Daniel Madden misled the authorities.

They withheld information that could have shed light on the shooting… that credible allegations of sexual misconduct had been made before 1979, in 1981 and again in 1987.

Daniel Madden would later brag about his ability “to manage national media coverage.” View ]

Madden and Abbot Polan did just that.

Below are some of the quotes taken from news coverage in the days following the shooting.


“Officials at the abbey and the seminary college connected to it said they have not found a link between Jeffress and the sex scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, but they left open the possibility of one … The abbey and seminary have been only indirectly connected to the scandal.

Abbey Rampage a Mystery
Lois Romano
Washington Post
June 11, 2002


“Rebecca Summers, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which includes Conception, said church authorities had no reason to think the shootings were related to the sex abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.”

The Washington Post
Lois Romano and Annie Gowen
June 11, 2002
Gunman Kills 2 Monks, Wounds 2 at Missouri Abbey


“Investigators said they have no evidence connecting the shootings to the sex scandal in which Catholic priests have been accused of molesting youngsters.”

Mo. Abbey Gunman Is ‘Mystery Man’
AP Online
June 11, 2002


“Polan said the worst trouble the monks — who lead a simple life of work and prayer — had faced until Monday was a few dollars missing from an outdoor collection box.”

Monastery locked up as killings are probed
Associated Press
June 11, 2002
By Connie Farrow


“This afternoon, the gunman’s daughter told Missouri detectives that in Mr. Jeffress’s youth he was a devout Catholic but that in recent years, he had occasionally attended a Methodist church. Why and when Mr. Jeffress left the Catholic Church remained a mystery, Sergeant Lyon said. That left equally unclear whether there was any tie between the killings and the American Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis.”

Monastery Gunman Ignored Pleas for Mercy From Monk
New York Times
Sam Dillon
June 12, 2002


“Abbey officials said they had found nothing in their guest, seminary and employment records to link Jeffress to Conception Abbey. Investigators said they had no evidence connecting the shootings to the sex abuse scandal in which Catholic priests have been accused of molesting children”

Abbey killer was upset with church about his divorce
USA Today
June 12, 2002


“Conception’s ninth abbot tries to make sense of the shootings. In an effort to understand and help authorities, the abbey staff went through press files, employment records, seminary rosters and guest registries looking for any tie between Mr. Jeffress and Conception.”

Peace, forgiveness ease monks’ pain
St. Joseph News-Press
Alanzo Weston and Ken Newton
June 8, 2003″