Saturday, March 26, 2011

Christian soldiers, feet of clay

Pope Benedict XVI on homosexualilty: "A deviation, an irregularity and a wound," "a destruction of God's work."

There have been two significant reminders this week of the feet-of-clay factor and how it works sometimes within that wing of Christianity determined to demonize LGBT people.

The familiar feet-of-clay reference is taken from the Old Testament book of Daniel and the story of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadneezar’s dream about a giant metal idol with feet made of potters clay. Those feet, Daniel pointed out, made the entire elaborate structure vulnerable.

The Des Moines Register is reporting this morning on the case of the Rev. Patrick Edouard, 41, former pastor of Covenant Reformed Church at Pella, charged with --- during three years of his pastorate, 2006-2008 --- raping three women who were members of his congregation, having sexual contact with a fourth and in general using his position to exploit them.

If you’re familiar with Pella, you’re probably familiar with Covenant’s lavish new building , visible just to the south of Marion County Highway G28 at Pella’s west edge as you enter town after having driven in along Lake Red Rock’s north shore or approaching from the south across Red Rock Dam. Court papers imply Edouard began to develop a pattern of exploiting vulnerable women soon after he arrived to serve the congregation during 2003.

Covenant, with an estimated membership of 700-800, is a member of the rather new United Reformed Churches in North America, organized in 1996 to promote “pure doctrine” among members of the Christian Reformed Church --- hardly a beacon of liberality, but beginning to consider such issues as biblical inerrancy, the possibility that women might hold positions of authority within the church, evolution, the subversive notion that LBGT people might somehow be eligible for grace.

"The congregation is enduring a severe trial," The Register reported the Rev. Andrew Cammenga, interim pastor of Covenant, as saying. "We ask that all Christians pray for us."


In another part of the country --- the Pacific Northwest --- a bankruptcy settlement of $166.1 million was announced Friday between more than 500 victims of clergy and staff sexual abuse and the Northwest Province of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The province includes Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

Most of the 500 victims were Native American children who attended boarding schools operated by the Jesuits prior to the mid-1970s. In other words, these soldiers for Christ sexually exploited not only the most vulnerable segment of the population, children, but also one of the most vulnerable segments of the population as a whole, Native Americans.

The Jesuits of the Northwest Province previously --- in 1977 --- had reached a $50 million with 113 other Native American child victims of sexual abuse and had attempted to plead poverty to avoid the newest settlement. In addition, the Fairbanks Roman Catholic Diocese reached a bankruptcy settlement of $9.8 million in 2010 with 300 Alaska Native sex abuse victims.

This is just the latest development in the continuing saga of abuse that has turned the Roman Catholic cabal of exclusively self-protecting priests, bishops and popes into a festering wound on the body of Christ. In Iowa, sex abuse settlements among other effects to date have pushed the Diocese of Davenport into bankruptcy and brought down Lawrence Soens, ex-bishop of Sioux City.

And in New York last week, a jocular Archbishop Timothy Dolan, leading the charge there against same-sex marriage, equated it with incest.

Pray for the bastards?

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