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Pope Francis Calls On Faithful To Resist ‘Idols’ Of Money, Power And Pleasure
In the first public Mass of his weeklong visit to Brazil, Pope Francis urged Catholics to resist the “ephemeral idols” of money, power and pleasure.
Thousands packed into the cavernous Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, one of the most important shrines in Latin America that is halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo. Aparecida is a version of the Virgin Mary venerated as the patroness of Brazil, home to the biggest Roman Catholic population in the world.
On Wednesday, tens of thousands more braved a cold rain outside the Basilica to catch a glimpse of the first pope from the Americas.
Before the Mass, Francis stood in silent prayer before the 15-inch-tall image of the Virgin of Aparecida, the “Black Mary,” his eyes tearing up as he breathed heavily. It was a deeply personal moment for this pontiff, who has entrusted his papacy to the Virgin Mary and, like many Catholics in Latin America, places great importance in Marian devotion.
During his homily, Francis urged Catholics to keep their values of faith, generosity and fraternity, a message he was expected to repeat later in the day during a visit to a drug rehabilitation center in Rio de Janeiro.
“It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone including our young people feels attracted by the manyidols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure,” he said. “Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols.”
The church is struggling in Latin America to keep Catholics from straying to evangelical and Pentecostal churches that often promise help in finding material wealth, an alluring attraction in a poverty-wracked continent. Francis’ top priority as pope has been to reach out to the world’s poor and inspire Catholic leaders to go to slums and other peripheries to preach.