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Pope Francis celebrates the opening Mass for the synod in St Peter's Basilica (AP)

The concept of gradualism is as old as Christianity itself

A hooded penitent in the  Philippines pauses while carrying a cross (AP)

Faithful urged to ‘focus on prayers’ rather than extreme self-mortification

Guido Reni's Crucifixion in San Lorenzo in Lucina, Rome

Why Catholics care about the Cross

It tells us a simple fact: that God loves us, all of us, and died for us

Pope Benedict XVI and Benjamin Netanyahu greet each other at Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2009 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The crucifixion was caused by our own sins: that has always been mainstream Catholic teaching

Pope Benedict XVI visits Rome’s main synagogue in January 2010. In his new book he seeks to deepen Catholic-Jewish dialogue (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

In his forthcoming book on Jesus, Benedict XVI says mob does not represent Jews, but sinful humanity