Pope decries 'pleasure at all costs'

At this time of year when people buy stuff they can't afford and end up with a truckload of debt for Christmas, it's nice to hear a counter message.

Pope Benedict XVI warned Sunday against seeking happiness in drugs or other "artificial paradises" and the self-centered quest for "pleasure at all costs."

Instead, the pope held up Mother Teresa — the Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor in India and elsewhere — as an example.

"Every day, she lived next to misery, human degradation and death," the pope told thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. "Yet, she offered the smile of God to everybody."

The pope, speaking during the traditional Sunday noon Angelus prayer, said real happiness cannot be found in cultures "that put individual happiness in the place of God, a mentality that has its emblematic effect in the quest for pleasure at all costs, in the spread of the use of drugs as an escape, a shelter in artificial paradises, which turn out to be completely illusory."

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