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CONCEPTION, MO: Eight Catholic priests credibly accused of abusing children includes former Episcopal priest, Bede Parry

CONCEPTION, MO: Eight Catholic priests credibly accused of abusing children includes former Episcopal priest, Bede Parry

By David W. Virtue, DD
August 6, 2019

A Benedictine monastery in Conception, northwestern Missouri, has released the names of eight priests or brothers who, it says, face credible allegations of having sexually abused children during the last seven decades. Included among the seven is the late Bede Parry, who was ordained into the Episcopal Church by former Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

In 2004, the then Bishop of Nevada, Jefferts Schori, received the former Roman Catholic priest, Bede Parry, as a priest into the Episcopal Church. Schori knew 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.

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 he 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. The Episcopal News Service characterized the resignation as Parry's "renouncing his orders"!

At the time, 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.

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, while 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."

Commenting on the Bede Parry affair, the former Bishop of Bethlehem, Paul 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."

Bede Parry died on Nov. 27, 2013.

The Conception Abbey said on its website Monday that seven of the priests are dead and the eighth had been removed from the ministry, according to an AP report.

"On behalf of the monks of Conception Abbey, I offer my unconditional apology to all victims and their families affected by the evil of clergy sexual abuse," the Rt. Rev. Benedict Neenan, the Roman Catholic monastery's abbot, said in a statement on its website. "It is my prayer and hope that publishing this list will aid in the healing of victims and will serve as a lasting reminder of our responsibility to do everything in our power to protect all minors and vulnerable adults from abuse."

Many Catholic dioceses and religious orders have released similar lists recently, and the abbey said it was releasing its list with the goal of providing transparency and accountability.

FBI agents reviewed personnel files of priests and brothers who served at the abbey in the past 70 years to compile the list, which provides no information on the allegations.

David Clohessy, volunteer leader of Missouri Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the group doubts that the abbey's list is complete. He said he hopes that it will prompt other victims or whistleblowers to come forward.

"And we hope Abbey officials will give more helpful information, such as the last known whereabouts of these potentially dangerous men, along with their photos and full work histories," he said. "Finally, Catholics should ask all church officials, 'How on earth do you justify keeping these predators' names hidden for years and needlessly putting innocent kids and vulnerable adults in harm's way?'"

The abbey said that in 2011, it implemented policies designed to protect guests, children and other visitors. It also hired a victim advocate and has a board comprised of lay people to investigate all allegations of abuse.

The priests on the list are Vincent Barsch, who was ordained in 1945, left religious life in 1973 and died in 2010; Bede Parry, ordained in 1983, dismissed from religious life in 2002 and died in 2013; Edgar Probstfield, ordained in 1952 and died in 2007; Regis Probstfield, ordained in 1957 and died in 2008; Gilbert Stack, ordained in 1939 and died in 2007; Hugh Tasch, ordained in 1957 and died in 2017; Paschal Thomas, ordained in 1959 and died in 2015; and Isaac True, ordained in 1966 and removed from ministry.

In 2017, the abbey settled a lawsuit accusing it of covering up abuse by Parry for $415,000.


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