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Pope condemns geneticists 'who play at being God'

Pope Benedict XVI will deliver a blistering attack on the mores of modern society.

"The Pope will deliver a blistering attack on the 'satanic' mores of modern society today, warning against an 'inane apologia of evil' that is in danger of destroying humanity. In a series of Good Friday meditations that he will lead in Rome, the Pope will say that society is in the grip of a kind of 'anti-Genesis' described as 'a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family'. He will pray for society to be cleansed of the 'filth' that surrounds it and be restored to purity, freed from 'decadent narcissism'."

"Particular condemnation is reserved for scientific advances in the field of genetic manipulation. Warning against the move to 'modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God', the Pope will lead prayers against 'insane, risky and dangerous' ventures in attempting 'to take God’s place without being God'.

The Pope has not actually composed the prayers for the traditional Way of the Cross, but is certain to have given his blessing to the Good Friday meditations at the Colosseum.

Their author is Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Vicar General at Vatican City. The tone of the meditations is striking in its contrast to the contemporary fashion for feel-good religion.

While some will regard their emphasis on sin and the dark side of human nature as retrograde, others will welcome them as a sign of the strong and conservative leadership that Pope Benedict XVI was elected to provide. All Roman Catholic churches and many others, including Anglican churches in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, celebrate a liturgy around the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

The 14 stations begin with Jesus’s condemnation to death, take Christians through meditations of the 'Way of the Cross' and the Crucifixion and end with the laying of Jesus’s body in the tomb. The Pope wrote the meditations himself for last year’s Way of the Cross in Rome. But today’s Catholic prayers, published in Italian this week and in English on the Zenit website yesterday, go further than most in their thorough denunciation of contemporary culture.

At the Third Station of the Cross, where Jesus falls for the first time, Archbishop Comastri has written: 'Lord, we have lost our sense of sin. Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication.'

At the Fourth Station, where Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene to carry the cross, Pope Benedict and his followers will pray: 'Lord Jesus, our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society’s incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness.'

One of the strongest meditations warns against the attack on the family. 'Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family.'

There is a moving meditation for the Eighth Station, where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, describing the 'River of tears shed by mothers, mothers of the crucified, mothers of murderers, mothers of drug addicts, mothers of terrorists, mothers of rapists, mothers of psychopaths, but mothers all the same'.

The Pope will also confront the question of evil in the world in a meditation that asks: 'Where is Jesus in the agony of our own time, in the division of our world into belts of prosperity and belts of poverty . . . in one room they are concerned about obesity, in the other, they are begging for charity?' "

The Times
Article by Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

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