|Nevada Bishop Spins Presiding Bishop's Role in Receiving Pederast Monk into the Episcopal Church
By David W. Virtue
August 1, 2011
The issue refuses to go away. Questions remain, answers are few and what answers there are, are ambiguous, clouded in mystery and cloaked in deception.
The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori steadfastly refuses to say anything or take any responsibility for her role in receiving a pederast monk into the Episcopal Church when she was Bishop of Nevada, knowing that he had a history of sexual abuse, by his own confession, of at least seven young men.
It is a silence so deafening that even her most sycophantic followers on the liberal HOB/D listserv are raising questions as to why she refuses to answer.
She has allowed the present Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, to take the fall for her.
One liberal Episcopal blogger, John Chilton, wrote, "We remain flummoxed as to why she has had nothing to say about her role, while Bishop of Nevada, of receiving as a priest a man who had admitted to inappropriate touching. The one case turns out to have been in the public record, so it was in the man's interest to reveal it. It turns out there were many more earlier instances of inappropriate sexual behavior by the man. Two current civil suits against the Catholic Church allege a psychological test by a Catholic institution showed he was prone to continue the behavior, and the results of this test was made available to the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada.
"Just as perplexing, the presiding bishop shifted the task of addressing questions to the current bishop of Nevada. His response was to disparage the questioners, say the man's record as an Episcopal priest was unblemished, and to allow him to resign his orders without deposing him (for being dishonest during the reception process).
"Each one of these actions discourages people, victims and otherwise, from speaking out. It is behavior consistent of a church that seeks first to avoid bringing scandal on the church or its bishops. That's behavior that led the Catholic Church astray, the kind of behavior we had hoped The Episcopal Church had turned its back on."
Clearly not. Her own behavior is exactly reminiscent of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison who covered up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor. In his case, he was found guilty, by a jury of his peers, but later beat the rap because of the statute of limitations. Charges of conduct unbecoming a priest still hangs over his head. Efforts by the Standing Committee and others to get Jefferts Schori to get rid of him have failed. The Presiding Bishop is either unable or unwilling to act against him even though she now has enhanced ecclesiastical powers.
This is not the only case.
In February, 2010 VOL wrote that Central NY Bishop Gladstone (Skip) Adams should be investigated following the arrest and ultimate imprisonment of a pedophile priest, Ralph E. Johnson, then rector of St. Paul's in Oswego.
Bishop Adams tried to conceal the priest's behavior and, in the process, attempted to depose a godly priest for being a whistleblower.
In 2006, the now former rector of St. Paul's Church in Oswego, Fr. David G. Bollinger, claimed in a lawsuit that Bishop Gladstone Adams retaliated against him for raising allegations against Johnson.
Fr. Bollinger, now retired, said he was punished by the church for being a whistleblower and removed from his position. The bishop inhibited Bollinger six times and drew up Presentment charges against him. Fr. Bollinger prevailed in an ecclesiastical court when the charges were thrown out.
The truth is the national church should investigate the bishop. He should face the same charges brought against Bennison. Johnson finally went to jail.
The lawsuit alleged the local Episcopal Diocese failed to act on an accusation of sexual abuse and retaliated against the former rector who brought up the complaint. The courts vindicated Bollinger. Bollinger suffered a serious heart attack at the time and retired. Adams shot the messenger. He still keeps his job.
Why has there been no investigation and appropriate charges brought against Bishop Adams similar to those brought against Bishop Bennison?
Then there is the long contorted history of the Rev. John Bennison, Charles Bennison's younger brother.
At the time this blew up, there was ample evidence that Los Angeles Bishop Fred Borsch knew of John Bennison's sexual misbehavior and did nothing about it. In letters from two SNAP (Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests) leaders sent to California law enforcement, school officials and Episcopal Church leaders, they charged that Bennison, who was rector of St. John's Parish in Clayton, California (Contra Costa County), was a "potential threat to your community." They also included a copy of a 1993 letter from then Los Angeles Episcopal bishop Frederick Borsch that confirmed Bennison had molested a teen in Upland.
Bishop William E. Swing who followed Borsch tried to cover it up.
When John Bennison's behavior finally blew up under the ecclesiastical reign of Bishop Swing, he dodged the bullet, saying at first that Bennison had had an exemplary career to date and should be left alone. No deal said SNAP who wrote to then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, "Hold Bishop Swing - and/or any other bishop who knew of abuse and allowed it to continue - accountable for misconduct and collusion by posing sanctions and launching a church investigation into other alleged clergy abuse cases. Keeping Bennison's past a secret is tantamount to ignoring a time bomb."
That bomb finally went off in Philadelphia three decades later when Bishop Charles Bennison faced charges that he covered up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor. The diocese is still in recovery and Bennison is back and up to his old tricks, so much so that diocesan officials recently travelled to New York City appealing to Jefferts Schori to get rid of him. To date, she has done nothing. The diocese continues in free fall with parishes closing and conservative parishes trying to stay below Bennison's radar.
Now Jefferts Schori herself is up to her miter in sexual scandal, so much so that one of her bishops, Paul Marshall of Bethlehem, came out blasting her silence over l'affair Bede Parry threatening to tell all in an article, maybe even a book, on cover-ups in the Episcopal Church that he knows about. Will he finally take the lid off the whole scandalous lot in TEC?
Coming to the Presiding Bishop's rescue (and for which he will no doubt be honorably rewarded in time) comes the present Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards.
In a particularly egregious and bullet-dodging letter he sought to placate Jefferts Schori's critics to Episcopalians saying, "It looks to me like she handled the situation by the book"...
Jefferts Schori ordained Parry in 2004, aware that he had offended while a Benedictine monk at Conception Abbey, which runs a large monastery in Northwest Missouri. She and a committee of clergy and lay people were also aware that Parry went for treatment, but, also, that a subsequent psychological examination in 2000 found he was a sexual abuser who had a proclivity to reoffend with minors.
Jefferts Schori's answer was to forbid Parry from having contact with minors, under the church's decade-old policy, "Safeguarding God's Children," that requires windows on all doors and does not allow children to go somewhere with a single adult.
Edwards went on to say this, "It is ironic that some have taken this incident as a pretext to attack Bishop Katharine for laxity in enforcing rules for the safety of children. Bishop Katharine introduced Safeguarding God's Children standards and training here. No bishop has ever done so much to rid our diocese of clergy misconduct or to establish and enforce rules to preserve healthy boundaries."
Really. Who are we kidding?
The 2005 sex abuse policy manual for All Saints Episcopal Church, Las Vegas, where Bede Parry was employed was very clear that "All Employees will be screened during an interview for Specific characteristics which are seen as possible indicators of risk pertaining to child sexual abuse prior to employment."
The pederast Parry (he was not a pedophile) had them in spades and Jefferts Schori chose to ignore them by privately forbidding Parry from having contact with underage kids.
This flew directly in the face of the policy manual of the church itself. She went against that policy. Why in God's name is she not being held accountable for her actions?
This is the second time the Presiding Bishop has done this. In May of 2008, a convicted and defrocked pedophile Episcopal priest was allowed to conduct spiritual retreats - two of them in an Episcopal facility with the blessing of Jefferts Schori.
In an exchange of correspondence with David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, the Presiding Bishop, through her Pastoral Development Officer Bishop F. Clayton Matthews, said that Mr. Lynn C. Baumann could function as a spiritual retreat master on the understanding that "Mr. Baumann's contact (is) to adults only".
"There are big problems with that," Clohessy told VOL. "If I start telling people, from today forward, that I am a sex offender, it does nothing to ameliorate the betrayal of all those people who have already been mislead by my secrecy, nor does it reach out to anyone already molested. "If I own a toxic waste dump and, under public pressure, post a sign saying 'DANGER STAY OUT', it fails to address the issue of how many children have already been contaminated."
Clohessy said Bauman molested one youngster and several others at a retreat center ironically titled "The Way of the Wolf Retreat Center" in Fredericksburg, Texas.
"How can Episcopal Church officials keep putting kids at such risk? Time does not erase memories or the gravity of the offenses. There is a dangerous irony here in that he performed these sex acts at the very kinds of places he is allowed to continue functioning."
In 1977, Dallas Bishop James Stanton defrocked Baumann, then an Episcopal priest, for sexual abuse. Baumann was given 10 years' probation, fined $1,500 and given 240 hours of community service on each of two second-degree felonies. He was charged with indecency with a child and for inducing sexual performance by a child. He was able to reach the plea bargain with prosecutors because the victim's family did not want to put the boy, then 11, through a jury trial.
"National Episcopal Church officials told me that Baumann has agreed not to have any direct contact with children and that the retreat organizers have promised to inform retreat participants about his past," Clohessy told VOL.
This was the same argument the Presiding Bishop used in the Bede Parry case. It doesn't hold up now nor did it then.
SNAP official Clohessy accused church officials, including Minnesota Bishop James Jelinek, of simply repapering the situation again with the apparent collusion of the National Episcopal Church. Minnesota Episcopalian officials let an admitted, convicted, defrocked child-molesting former Episcopal priest lead retreats at a church facility, the Episcopal House of Prayer in Collegeville, Minnesota. This is wrong and reckless."
And who is investigating the case of Episcopal Deacon Aaron Ramirez who allegedly drugged and raped a 17-year old in the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Zillah, WA, twelve years ago? He was a Catholic priest at the time, but later converted to the Episcopal Church. Did the Episcopal diocese of Spokane do its due diligence on Ramirez?
The Roman Catholic Bishop knew Ramirez had become an Episcopal priest, but he did nothing to alert the Episcopal authorities and kids were at risk," says a spokesman. Is anyone investigating the Ramirez affair? The story said he fled back to Mexico. How difficult would it be to find him and hand him over to the authorities?
If you know the history of the Anglican Church of Mexico, it is one of fraud, mismanagement and skullduggery of the highest order. The former archbishop and one of his bishops ran off with millions of dollars, most of it given by the Episcopal Church. No one did anything to recover the money. The Bishop of Northern Mexico, the Rt. Rev. German Martinez Marquez was found guilty of grand larceny leveled at him by a fellow bishop. Both he and the Archbishop and Primate of Mexico, Samuel Espinoza, were later found guilty of the theft of millions of dollars over a period of years, and subsequently deposed. Don't expect the current Anglican regime to hand Ramirez over at a border crossing any time soon.
Jefferts Schori has stonewalled everybody by saying nothing. The sounds of silence have made Bethlehem Bishop Marshall so mad that he wrote, "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 RCC?
"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, which essentially tells it all, doesn't it? There is no more transparency at 815 than previously, as some commentators know to their pain."
Of course, the deadly sexual sickness of the Episcopal Church hardly matches that of the Roman Catholic Church in terms of numbers, but that is no license for Episcopalians to look down their noses at that church. The RCC has never knowingly ordained a sodomite to the episcopacy, and the notion of a woman lesbian bishop is so far off their radar screens and those of the Orthodox Church, not to mention the Anglican Global South, as to make any smug self-righteousness in The Episcopal Church laughable.
The more we find out what has really been going on behind closed doors and the cover-ups that have have been going on for years, the greater the fallout and long term damage will be when all is revealed.
One bishop who knows all is Bishop F. Clayton Matthews who holds the lofty title of the Office of Pastoral Development. The truth is he knows every dirty secret about every bishop. He reports directly to the Presiding Bishop. He could write a 'tell all' book of his own with more facts than Bishop Marshall.
The Church Insurance Company found it necessary to issue a series of guidelines for Episcopal clergy to follow in order to keep their insurance. However, there are reported instances where a priest who had been suspended for these issues was allowed to work in another parish under supervision.
The deeper question is how much more is out there and when will we know? Can the church's Presiding Bishop continue with impunity, choosing whom she will or will not allow to function as a priest or bishop while deposing godly orthodox bishops who actually believe the gospel? In the few brief years she has been the church's chief bishop she has deposed more priests and bishops than any Episcopal Presiding Bishop in history. That will be her legacy.
Will the Bishop of Bethlehem's 'tell all' article and book be the great revelator? If so, it might just be the beginning of the end of the Episcopal Church or, at the very least, its Presiding Bishop.
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