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Pope Benedict Speaks About Penance, But Without Any Specifics!

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Duluth, MN (OpEdNews) April 15, 2010 Reporting from Rome, Stacy Meichtry of the WALL STREET JOURNAL submitted the story headlined "Pope Ends Silence on Sexual Abuse" that was published at

But Meichtry did not himself hear Benedict speak in his homily at Mass in the Pauline Chapel on Thursday, because it was closed to the public. As a result, Meichtry's story relies on published reports in the Vatican official newspaper and online.

Now, according to the published sources that Meichtry used for his story, the pope "didn't specifically mention sex abuse by priests." So we might wonder if the headline "Pope Ends Silence on Sex Abuse" is justified.

According to Meichtry, Benedict spoke of "We Christians." But does this expression refer to "We Christians" gathered in the chapel on Thursday in the Mass that was closed to the public, or to the larger group of Christians in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide?

In any event, Benedict said, "Now, under the attacks of the world that speak of our sins, we see that doing penance is grace and we see how penance is necessary." But does "we" refer to "we here in the Vatican" today at this Mass that was closed to the public, or to "we bishops," or to a larger group of people?

So what exactly are "our sins" that "the attacks of the world speak of"? Is the pope referring to "our sins here in the Vatican," or to "our sins as bishops," or to something else?

Most observers would probably agree that the allegations of priest sex abuse are motivating "the attacks of the world" today on the Roman Catholic Church. But Benedict "didn't specifically mention sex abuse by priests." So what exactly is Benedict talking about?

In addition, "the attacks of the world" are fueled by the strong sense of outrage about how bishops transferred abusive priests from one parish to another.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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