In Christmas homily, pope deplores selfishness, harm to environment

VATICAN CITY, Dec 25, 2007 (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday used his Christmas homily to speak out against selfishness and the degradation of the environment as he celebrated midnight mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica. The tradition of the creche in St Peter’s Square was established by Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II in 1982. “Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others — for his neighbour, for the poor, for God,” he said, recalling the story of Christ’s birth, when “there was no room in the inn” for the baby Jesus.

“And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others,” said Benedict, wearing a white brocade robe.

The leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics spoke in Italian as thousands listened in the vast basilica and millions more on television worldwide.

“These words refer ultimately to us, to each individual and to society as a whole,” said the German-born pope. “Do we have time for our neighbour who is in need of a word — or in need of my affection? — for the fugitive or the refugee who is seeking asylum? Do we have time and s