Pope criticizes atheism, modern Christianity, in encyclical on hope

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Pope Benedict XVI rebuked modern-day atheism for bringing untold cruelty and suffering to a world seeking justice, exhorting Roman Catholics to embrace instead the Christian message of hope.

"We must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world is not in our power," Benedict wrote in the second encyclical of his papacy. "Only God is able to do this."

The pope also critically questioned modern Christianity, saying its focus on individual salvation had ignored Jesus' message that true Christian hope involves salvation for all....

"In most countries, political Marxism is dead (but) philosophical Marxism is very much alive and its fuels the secularizing philosophy often seen in Europe and North America," said Monsignor Robert Wister, professor of church history at Seton Hall University in the United States.

"The pope's concern is that you have secularizing forces that are trying to eliminate religion from public and private life," Wister said.

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