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Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church just as Rampant in Church of England

Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church just as Rampant in Church of England
Episcopal Church also concealed sex abuse, says former bishop
Why can't the Church cleanse its own temple?

By David W. Virtue, DD
August 19, 2019

A prominent Church of England blogger has gone on the offensive saying that the Roman Catholic Church's chronic sex abuse has parallels in The Church of England that cannot be ignored.

Writing under the pseudonym Archbishop Cranmer, he writes; "The gross evil of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy would have gone unexposed had it not been for three principal agencies, all secular," he says, citing The Tablet, an International Catholic news weekly.

As with the Roman Catholic Church, so it is with the Church of England, he declared.

"There are a number of serving bishops who stand accused of turning a blind eye to chronic sexual abuse by other members of the clergy. There are allegations of collusion, manipulation and complicity in cover-up for reputational preservation, and even of cover-up of the cover-up. And the evidence is persuasive and damning. Why is a long-dead bishop like George Bell so readily thrown under a bus over one single, uncorroborated allegation, while living and serving bishops are shielded by a 'one-year rule' for a complaint to be made against them? What possible incentive do they have for consenting to dispense with that arbitrary rule when it would mean a discomfiting investigation into their failures and shortcomings? How may one hold diocesan bishops to account during their term of office when the relevant metropolitan bishop refuses to act?"

"The answer, of course, is that one cannot: they are kings in their dioceses, masters of their parishes, overseers of all boards and councils responsible for ministry and mission. They are immune from external investigation, shielded from the arrows of oversight, and guarded by the episcopal sword of sanctity. And this is apparently immutable, as a recent to the General Synod by the National Safeguarding Steering Group makes clear:

"Whatever changes may be made in safeguarding operational structures now and in the future, the accountabilities and responsibilities of bishops, priests and Church officers will remain unchanged. No safeguarding structure, whether internal or external, can take over the core role in mission and ministry of bishops and priests. They need to continue to carry out these duties safely and ensure that others do so too (GS 2092, June 2018, para.71)."

"The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, was asked by the BBC in October 2017: "If a bishop urged a member of the clergy who was in contact with a victim of abuse to stay quiet and not go to the police or the media, would you consider that to be cover-up?" The Bishop responded: "Yes I would -- by today's standards, in terms of our practice today, that would immediately be the trigger for disciplinary action."

"Which raises the question of why yesterday's standards -- just 15 or 20 years ago -- were so deficient. We are talking about the rape and abuse of children and the systematic cover-up of that abuse. When in two millennia of Church history was that ever acceptable? What manner of bishop is more concerned with institutional reputation than with justice for the vulnerable and oppressed? Do they feel more for the sadistic abuser than the raped child? Do they have more respect for clergy who gratify themselves with children than they have for their wounded victims?"

The Episcopal Church is also not immune from cover-ups.

In 2004, the then Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori, received a former Roman Catholic priest, Bede Parry, as a priest into the Episcopal Church. What made this issue explode in Jefferts Schori's face and into the Episcopal Church is that Parry had sexually abused minors under his care as a Catholic priest. As a result, he had been barred from exercising his ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, and this was known to the Bishop of Nevada when she received Parry into TEC.

How was it possible that a former Roman Catholic priest who had admitted to repeated abuse of minors under his care and who agreed to be laicized, could have been received into TEC as a priest was startling. Furthermore, the Diocese of Nevada acknowledged that it was aware of his past misconduct, including a police report, prior to his reception, but offered up reassurances that the bishop and Commission on Ministry had decided that he did not pose a risk to children.

A later psychological evaluation made by the Roman Catholic Church shortly before Parry began his process of reception into TEC, found that Parry had a "proclivity to re-offend with minors!" Once his past conduct became public knowledge, Parry immediately tendered his resignation as a priest in TEC. This resignation was characterized by the Episcopal News Service as Parry's "renouncing his orders"!

TEC and the Diocese of Nevada's bishop Dan Edwards tried to spin it that the diocese and national church had "followed the applicable canons..." but that was too disingenuous by half. Parry later died.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley concluded otherwise and wrote that there were indeed canonical violations in this process.

That the Diocese of Nevada and the Office of Public Affairs could knowingly receive into TEC's priesthood a child abuser while complying "meticulously" with all canons, policies and procedures was hard enough to take. At the same time, the Presiding Bishop was pushing out the front door orthodox priests and bishops, but allowing a known child sex abuser to be priested coming in by the backdoor was mind blowing.

At one point, Bethlehem Bishop Paul Marshall weighed in and said Jefferts Schori threatened bishops not to reveal multiple sexual abuse cover-ups.

Commenting on the Bede Parry affair, Marshall said, "Now let's be serious. When 815-level lawyers threaten and cajole diocesan bishops not to reveal multiple sex-abuse cover-ups at the highest level lest former leaders be embarrassed, what can we expect, and why do we look down on the Roman Catholic Church?

"As a rector I had to follow a priest who was simply passed along by another bishop, and as a bishop have had the same experience with a staff member who was protected by his bishop, with catastrophic results here.

"On paper, we are a one-strike church, but in reality, too many people have walked. 815 (national church headquarters) refused comment on this story with principled-sounding obfuscation. There is no more transparency at 815 than previously, as some commentators know to their pain."

In an e-mail to Virtueonline, Marshall wrote, "The anger has subsided for the moment, and I come to the office incredibly sad. As you know, I think we are doomed as a church unless our life is vigorously centered in the Gospel and see our mission in only those terms that are consistent with it." The bishop said he and his staff were planning on writing a full-length piece (and eventually a book) on this subject. To date, the book has never been written.

The deeper truth is that the Church always matters more than the lives of those sexually abused. In the case of The Episcopal Church beating up on orthodox priests and bishops, inhibiting and deposing them, takes a higher priority, as bishops like Albany Bishop William Love pose a major threat to the status quo and must be dealt with as harshly as possible.


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