'The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church,' Benedict told journalists travelling with him to Portugal. 'The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice.'Two things delight me about this move by Benedict. First, he demands that the church take responsibility for its own sins. There are critics all over the world, and mostly outside the church, who have pointed out the evils of church institutions, but this is a rare moment that a leader of the church does the same thing. Regardless of denomination, this is an important call.
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Second, the call is the same as some of the earliest sayings of Jesus, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is near." It's a call to change, to turn away from evil because God's justice is near. And I don't mean that in the sense of a Final Judgement, but in the sense that the act of turning away from evil is the first step to the manifestation of God's justice. Turning from evil opens the way to forgiveness between people and to love between people. Forgiveness and love, not reward and punishment, is God's justice.