The Philippines Inquirer reports that Pope Benedict Wednesday lashed out against the "dragon" of materialism that has seized much of the world but said God was more powerful than the seemingly "invincible" trend.
While celebrating the Feast of the Assumption marking the Virgin Mary's ascension into heaven, the pope invoked the "red dragon" of evil which figures in the New Testament.
The pontiff said the "red dragon" had been embodied in "the great dictatorships of the past century: Nazism and Stalinism."
"Today, the dragon exists in various forms -- in the materialist ideologies which tell people that it is absurd to think about God, to observe the Commandments which are described as outdated, and that they should grab what they can."
"It seems impossible to oppose this dominant mentality with all the media backing it has and the dragon once again appears to be invincible," he said.
"But God is stronger than the dragon and it is love which triumphs, not selfishness."
Giving his homily without using a text or notes, the pope said that according to St Augustine, human history has been driven by a struggle between two kinds of love: love for God in which one "loses oneself and gives oneself" totally to him and loving oneself to "the point of disparaging God and hating others," Catholic News Service adds.
Pope Benedict said this selfish love versus true love can be seen in the two images present in the feast day's first reading from the Book of Revelation, an account of the encounter between the powerful dragon and the defenceless woman.
The dragon, he said, represents "power without mercy, without love, of absolute selfishness, terror, violence" as well as all "materialistic dictatorships" throughout history, including the Nazi and Stalinist regimes.
"Even today the dragon exists in new and different ways," he said.
It is present in the form of materialistic ideologies that consider God as something expendable or pointless and that maintain life is all about "consumption, selfishness, amusement" and "taking all there is to get in this brief lifetime," the pope said.
"Once again it seems absurd, impossible to defy this dominant mentality," especially with the support it gets in the media, he said.
But, "nonetheless, we know that in the end the defenceless woman won" the battle against the dragon, signalling the victory of God's love, he said.
Consumerism, hedonism will be defeated by God's love, pope says (Catholic News Service, 15/8/07)
Pope likens materialism to 'dragon' of evil (Inquirer, 15/8/07)
Follow the “woman dressed in the sun” against the “dragon” of materialism, says Pope (AsiaNews, 15/8/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Book of Revelation (Wikipedia)
Revelation, Introduction (USCCB)