Pope Benedict, leading a global inter-religious meeting, acknowledged Thursday "with great shame" that Christianity had used force in its long history as he joined other religious leaders in condemning violence and terrorism in God's name.
Benedict spoke as he hosted some 300 religious leaders from around the world - including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Shintoists and Buddhists - in an inter-faith prayer gathering for peace in the city of St Francis, a universally recognized symbol of peace.
The highlight of the article was this section, where it appears that the pope is taking the appropriate stance toward Christian violence in history. Rather than trying to deny it or to justify it, apparently "the pope asked forgiveness for his own church's use of violence in the past."
"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith," he said in his address to the delegations in an Assisi basilica.
"We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature."
The emphasis is mine but appropriate. There is no truer way to approach the shameful Christian history of violence than to admit that its very exercise is contrary to the heart of the Gospel: peace, love, humility, and waiting on God. The actions of the pope emphaize another central feature of Christianity: repentance. For his leadership on this matter, we should all be grateful.