Responding to the release of the study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic church, Rev. Donald Senior, president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer in saying there could be no "cheap grace" in response to this

"Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace," Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship

Senior echoed those words in an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune:

Right now, the church is not in a position to offer moral leadership
on this issue. If, however, the church puts its own house in order,
there is hope that it can recover its moral voice and help address
his staggering national problem.

Some church leaders are hoping the firestorm from the dreadful
contents of Friday's report will eventually blow over. We, the church,
should make sure it doesn't. This Lent we--not the media--need to
repent, to confess our sins out loud and make amends. Only then
can forgiveness and healing flood in.

No matter what the bishops say, a look at the timelines of the scandal compiled by the New York Times and Fox News should make us all skeptical. Can this group of bishops, who were warned in 1985 after the trail of Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, who sexually abused 200 boys in Louisiana and in 1992, after the conviction of Rev. James Porter in Minnesota (he also abused dozens of children in Massachusetts), be trusted to come clean and to change.

In any other human endeavor, leaders who failed like the US Bishops had would have been cast out of their positions of authority long ago. They were trusted with the welfare of their parishioners and they failed 10,667 of their parishioners children--the reported number of children abused from 1950 to 2002.

In 2002, when the Boston Globe began its relentless coverage of the scandal, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle ran a series of articles, looking at the Porter cases, 10 years later. They are worth re-reading.

One entitled "PORTER CASE, 10 YEARS AFTER: Victims recall horror" quotes a victim named Peter Calderone, reacting to victims of Boston priest John Geoghan coming forward.

``It's the same story as 1992,'' Calderone said. ``The only things different are the names and faces.''

Calderone was one of more than 100 victims of former priest James Porter who went public 10 years ago with details of sexual abuse during Porter's three years at St. Mary's in the early 1960s, and his subsequent years at two other parishes in the Diocese of Fall River.

Another victim, John Robitaille says, "here we go again."

Back in the 1960s, the Church could claim that it did not understand pedophilia, he said, but not in the 1990s. `` What is your excuse now?'' he asks his Church.

It's a question worth repeating. "What's your excuse now?" There are no easy answers, but no cheap grace can erase the need to ask it over and over and over again.


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