- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, in his last speech of the year, yesterday lamented what he called the “banalization of sexuality” and a “hope and faith deficit” in modern Western society.

During New Year’s Eve vespers at St. Peter’s Basilica, traditionally addressed to Romans, the pope said: “Not a few, especially young people, are attracted by a false glorification or even defilement of the body and the banalization of sexuality.”

The 80-year-old leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics added: “Serious deficiencies and poverty weigh on the lives of individuals and families, preventing them from viewing the future with confidence.”

He described a “deficit of hope and faith in life that constitutes the dark evil of modern Western society.”

The pope said, “Multiple challenges related to the consumer mentality and secularization face the faithful and men of good will.”

Benedict added: “Let us ask God to make each of us a true yeast of hope … so that we can build a better future.”

He referred to his encyclical, issued last month, titled “Spe Salvi” (Saved by Hope), in which he wrote that humanity will not be saved by progress, science or political revolution but only in the collective hope offered by Christianity.

The German pope was to kick off 2008 this morning with a Mass devoted to peace.

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