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Pope speaks of attacks on Church, need to do penance

April 15, 2010

Now, under the attacks of the world, which speak to us of our sins, we see that to be able to do penance is a grace – and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed.??The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation – this pain is grace, because it is renewal – it is the work of the Divine Mercy.?

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about "how necessary it is to do penance," in an apparent reference to the sex-abuse scandal, during a homily on April 15.

At a Mass for members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the Pope spoke about the need to correct a popular notion that mankind should aspire to be "free, autonomous, and nothing else." No human person is, or should try to be, autonomous, he said.

One's actions always have an impact on one's neighbors, the Pope said, and sinful acts harm all of humanity. In that context he said: "Now, under the attacks from a world that speaks of our sins," Catholics should recognize the need to do penance.

While acknowledging the failures of believers, the Pope spoke of "aggression against the Church." He did not directly indict the media, but said that the attacks on Catholicism are a means of encouraging "conformism" in the public, steering attention away from the realities of sin, penance, and conversion.

The Pope spoke at the Mass without a prepared text, and no official version was readily available, but Vatican Radio provided quotations from the Pope's homily.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 16, 2010 10:53 AM ET USA

    Personal sentiments about the Church aside, it is clear that the PR strategy to date has not been particularly successful. The pervasiveness of the problem and remarkable "insensitivity" of the prelates involved with the scandal merits an apology, particularly to the victims and the many devoted Catholics whose financial generosity has been rewarded with large legal settlements. Ironic that many who proclaimed a "kindler, gentler and more compassionate" hierarchy proved to be "not so much."

  • Posted by: bnewman - Apr. 15, 2010 10:07 PM ET USA

    I seem to recall somewhere reading that Pope Benedict rejects the idea of 'communal guilt' and insists that guilt for sin can only be individual. If I am right in this how are we to understand the concept of penance for the sins of others? B. Newman

  • Posted by: voxfem - Apr. 15, 2010 8:00 PM ET USA

    “We talk of things that are useful to the world,” continued Pope Benedict, “we show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, but we do not dare say that the end of the world and the goal of Christianity is eternal life–and that the criteria of life in this world come from the goal–this we dare not say.” To speak of eternal life, unless you say everyone will have it regardless of behavior, is taboo. Without the possibility of losing it, Christianity is just 1 choice among many.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 15, 2010 5:23 PM ET USA

    "I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word ‘penance,’ which seemed too harsh to us." Who has avoided the word? Why? And why does it seem harsh? Have the bishops done a lot of catachesis on this? We've made a wrong turn, and need to get back on track.