Pope warns young pilgrims to avoid lure of 'false idols'
The Pope attacked "false idols'' and consumerism in an address to 150,000 pilgrims attending the World Youth Day celebrations in Australia yesterday.
In scenes reminiscent of a rock concert, he told the crowd on the shores of Sydney harbour that the world had "grown weary of greed, exploitation and division''.
However, he did not use his address to issue an apology to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. On his journey to Australia on Sunday, the Pope had indicated to journalists that he would apologise during his stay.
Instead, the 81-year-old leader of the Catholic Church said there were signs indicating that "something is amiss'' in modern society.
Referring to consumerism and the lure of "false idols'', he said: "In our personal lives and in our communities, we encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are and distort the purpose for which we have been created.''
He warned young pilgrims: "Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer.''
Speaking in English, the Pope also addressed climate change, giving warning that the world's natural resources were being squandered in the pursuit of "insatiable'' consumerism.
"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge there are scars which mark the surface of our earth -- erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption,'' he said.
The Pope acknowledged that many pilgrims had come from Pacific island nations threatened by rising sea levels blamed on global warming.
His comments came as the Australian government prepares a carbon trading system aimed at cutting greenhouse gases by 60pc by 2050.
The Pope has made the environment one of his major causes. Last year, he called for greater international co-operation over climate change and voiced anxiety about the impact of global warming. He has also pledged to make the Vatican carbon-neutral.
In Sydney, the Pope condemned television and the internet for presenting violence and sexual exploitation as entertainment. He said non-violence, sustainable development, justice and care for natural resources were of vital importance for humanity.
The speech was the Pope's first major address to pilgrims gathered in Sydney for the week-long Catholic festival.
He arrived for the ceremony in Barangaroo, near Darling Harbour, on a large cruiser flanked by a flotilla of 12 vessels and was welcomed ashore by aboriginal dancers who performed a traditional "welcome to land". The Pope had earlier praised the Australian government for apologising to Aborigines for past injustices.
Thanking them after the welcoming ceremony, he said: "I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware, too, of the healing and hope that is now at work.'' (© Daily Telegraph, London)