Religion: For Stiffer Penances

Many a Roman Catholic, accustomed to a quota of "Hail Marys" or "Our Fathers" as penance for his sins, would be shocked if the priest told him to give up smoking for a week or get up every morning at dawn. But just such penances are proposed in the latest issue of Rome's influential Vita Pastorale by the clerical monthly's editor. Father Stefano Lamera.

Penance, wrote Father Lamera, should be both "afflictive and curative." He suggests four kinds of afflictive penances: 1) voluntary mortification, such as early rising, giving up smoking; 2) cheerful acceptance of suffering, such as hunger, humiliation, a bad...

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