Using a woman who had an abortion to preserve her looks, Pope Francis took aim at the modern world's obsessions with power, success and beauty.
During his series of catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience, the Pontiff told a story dated from his time as Bishop of Buenos Aires, of a very beautiful woman who "bragged of her beauty"
"She said, as if it was natural, 'Yes, I had to have an abortion because my appearance is important'," the 80-year-old,said.
''When values such as physical beauty, health become idols to which everything must be sacrificed they create confusion in our spirit and in our hearts.
"Rather than promoting life, they drive us towards death," he added in comments that also targeted "power, success and vanity with their illusions of eternity and omnipotence."Taking issue with the false idols offered by our modern world, Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience said that “hope is a primary need in man” but that we can get lost in our search for security by trusting in the false hopes offered by idols.
He said the Scriptures teach us that side by side with authentic hope, born of trust in God’s word, we can be tempted by false hopes and worldly idols, like money, power or physical beauty.
Idols, he said,
“confuse the mind and heart, and, instead of favoring life, they lead to death.He went on to say,
"Faith is trusting in God, but there comes a moment in which [we], confronted with life’s difficulties, experience the fragility of that trust and feel the need for other certainties, more tangible and concrete.”The Scriptures, especially the prophets and wisdom writers, he said, reveal the fleeting nature of idols and the hope they offer. In Psalm 115, the Psalmist ironically presents these idols as silver and gold, made of human hands.
"The message of the Psalm is very clear," Pope Francis said, "one who places their hope in idols becomes like them: empty images with hands that don’t touch, feet that don’t walk, mouths that cannot speak. One has nothing else to say and becomes incapable of helping, of changing things, of smiling, giving of oneself, and of loving."
In contrast, God is always greater than we are, making us incapable of reduce God to our size, made in our own image and tailored to our desires.