Resist the mania of Black Friday, says Pope
Pope Francis has urged people to resist the excesses of consumerism at events such as Black Friday in the run-up to Christmas, calling it a virus that attacks faith and offends the needy.
"When you live for things, things are never enough. Greed grows, other people become obstacles in a race," he said in the homily of a Mass yesterday, decrying that in many places in the world today "consumerism reigns supreme".
The Pope was speaking between the two biggest shopping days of the year in wealthy countries - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online sales in the US reached $7.4bn (€6.7bn) on Friday, up nearly 20pc from last year.
He said that "consumerism is a virus that corrodes faith" because it makes people forget "the brother who knocks at your door".
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He urged people to "resist the blinding lights of consumerism, which will shine everywhere this month".
Later in the day, the Pope defended the display of nativity scenes in public places, which has become an annual contentious issue at Christmas in countries such as the US and France.
The Pope travelled to the town of Greccio, east of Rome, where St Francis of Assisi started the tradition by setting up the first nativity scene in 1223.
"I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares," he said in a letter.