Our Pledge To You

Religion

Pope opens Lent with call to avoid ‘clutches of consumerism’

Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for his weekly general audience, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. | AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for his weekly general audience, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. | AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

ROME — Pope Francis has urged Roman Catholic faithful to free themselves from the “clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness” as he marked the start of Lent, the period of prayer and fasting before Easter.Francis led a procession and then celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at the basilica of Santa Sabina, one of Rome’s most beautiful.

In his homily, Francis said the 40-day period of Lent is a “wakeup call for the soul” to rediscover the direction of life.

He said: “We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor.”

At the end of Lent, Christians commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.