By referring to the value of penance in the Christian experience, Pope Benedict XVI has inched toward acknowledging the need for the Vatican to show more contrition over the slew of clergy sexual abuse cases that have compromised the Catholic Church’s public standing in recent months. The pontiff made the comment during his Thursday morning Mass. –KA

The New York Times:

“I have to say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word ‘penance,’ which seems too harsh,” Benedict said at a Mass on Thursday morning, Vatican Radio reported.

“Now under the attacks of the world that talks to us of our sins, we see that the ability to perform penance is a grace and we see how it is necessary to perform penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our life,” he added.

The remarks seemed a marked shift in tone from comments by other top church officials, who have gone on the offensive against allegations that the Vatican, as well as Benedict himself before he was elected pope, had failed to act strongly against pedophile priests.

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