Disturbing new charges have surfaced about a cover-up concerning just how much Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, when she was the diocesan of Nevada, knew about the past sexual abuses committed by Father Bede Parry, a former Catholic priest whom she canonically received into her diocese as a priest in 2004.
The allegations stem from telephone conversations and emails exchanged between Abbot Gregory Polan, the current ordinary of Conception Abbey in Missouri, where Father Parry was only a novice when his sexual abuses of young men originally came to light in the 1970s, and a certain Patrick J. Marker. Until recently, Mr. Marker had remained anonymous as another victim of sexual abuse, who had been molested by a different Catholic priest, while a student at a preparatory school operated by a different Catholic abbey in Minnesota (St. John’s).
Bede Parry, before being ordained at Conception Abbey, had taken courses from 1979-1982 at the School of Theology also run by St. John’s in Minnesota, and had admitted to his then Abbot in Missouri that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a teen-aged student there. The Abbot required him to undergo “psychological treatment”, but kept him on as a priest. Notwithstanding his treatment, Fr. Parry continued to molest young men in contact with him at the Abbey, and who had been enlisted to sing in its choir. It was during a summer camp for that choir in 1987 that Fr. Parry made the sexual advances which resulted in the current lawsuit on file in Missouri, and which the Circuit Court just ruled could proceed, over objections by the Abbey that the offenses alleged were outside the statute of limitations.
Patrick Marker, as a victim with ties to St. John’s, where there were already a number of lawsuits pending on account of apparently widespread sexual abuse of minors there, became aware of the allegations concerning the molestations which Fr. Parry now admits he committed while at St. John’s. As a result, Mr. Marker began investigating alleged abuses by the monks of Conception Abbey, and found credible charges concerning at least three of its members — including Father Parry. He contacted Abbot Polan, as noted, and attempted to persuade him to approach the prior choristers and students at the Abbey who could still be found, in an effort to allow the ones who were willing to come forward to reach closure with regard to sexual abuses which they had suffered there so long ago.
After Abbot Polan, on his attorneys’ advice, declined to try to make contact between the Abbey and other potential victims of its predator monks, Mr. Marker opened up a Website for the purpose of creating a point of contact for other victims of abuse at Conception Abbey. Frustrated by his inability to get anywhere with Abbot Polan, Mr. Marker put up a post on his Website last month which reproduced detailed contemporary notes of his conversations with the Abbot, both singly and in the presence of others, in order to document his efforts.
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