Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clergy sexual abuse and missionary work

In the United States, Christians collect money to fund missionaries who bring the word of God to the darkest corners of the world. My friend is busy collecting donations for missionary schools and medical clinics in Uganda. To him it is noble work and I understand why he does it. Yet I find story after story of abuses tied to Christianity and missionary work. You don’t have to look far for unsound advice, or the practice of what I call hostage Christianity. That is, offering superior medical care with a price tag of religious indoctrination. It’s all wrong, but I am conflicted by the dichotomy of the obvious benefit versus the visible harm.

I don’t write about this subject much. I think I should. It has bothered me for a long time. My news filter delivered a story that ties missionary work to clergy sexual abuse, so I think the time is write about it.

Rev. Kevin Hederman is the subject of a lawsuit alleging he abused a teenage boy in the 90’s while serving as pastor of  North American Martyrs Church in Florissant, Mo. Hederman now works in Belize as a missionary.

Hederman met the teenager, then a student at Christian Brothers College high school, when Hederman occasionally celebrated Mass at the school's former campus in Clayton, according to the lawsuit. CBC has since moved to Town and Country.

During one visit to Hederman's residence, the priest instructed the teenager "to lie prone on the floor and then Fr. Hederman engaged in inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact with the plaintiff," according to the lawsuit.

Is it too much to hope that the Catholic Church would exercise appropriate due diligence by investigating Hederman’s activities in Belize? And why is he a missionary in predominantly catholic Belize anyway? It sounds like a scam to me.

Catholics, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Belize