Rachel Donadio reports on the pope's spontaneous remarks during his homily today:

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.

It's a start.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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