8.21.2005

Pope Delivers the Bad News


Oof! A little gassy...

Beware of Religious Fads, Pope Tells the Young

from AFP

COLOGNE, Germany - Pope Benedict XVI issued a ringing back-to-basics call to more than one million young Catholics at a giant open air mass which marked a triumphant finale to his first foreign visit as pope.

Wrapping up a four-day visit to his native Germany, the 78-year-old pontiff said young people should turn their backs on secularism and faddish new-age religions. He said there was "a kind of new explosion of religion" that if pushed too far, turned faith into "almost a consumer product."

Outlining the problems facing the Church in his homeland, he said "secularism and de-Christianization" continued to rise, while the "influence of Catholic ethics and morals were in constant decline."

Shortly before his departure, the pope had time to lament the "dramatic" shortage of new recruits to the priesthood in his homeland, and urged German bishops to do more to get new vocations.

The huge open-air mass was the culmination of a visit which swung between the spiritual and the political as Benedict made important progress to fulfilling his pledge to build "bridges of friendship" with other faiths. He visited both Cologne's synagogue, where he condemned the "unimaginable crime" of the Holocaust, and a mosque.

The young crowd gave Benedict a noisy reception under a huge canopy of swirling flags when he arrived aboard his popemobile.

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