The Holy See Press Office provided official translations in English of all major papal pronouncements in the first day of Pope Benedict's trip to Poland. In his beautiful speech to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Warsaw, in the city's Cathedral, Pope Ratzinger knew exactly how to send his message on one of the most controversial symbolic gestures of his predecessor:
On the occasion of the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past. We believe that the Church is holy, but that there are sinners among her members. We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practising it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God. Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must always be accompanied by the confessio laudis – the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.
In other news (though not completely unrelated), Brian Mershon thoroughly examines the consequences of the papal decision in the case of Father M. Maciel Degollado -- and presents some interesting additional information. We thank him for mentioning the analysis of this outlet.