Catholics should be wary of easy sex, drugs and money offered by “false prophets,” Pope Francis warned on Tuesday, in a message for Lent.
Lent is a period of penance observed in the six weeks leading up to Easter, the most important feast in the Christian calendar, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.
This year, Lent starts on Feb. 14, while Easter falls on April 1.
“How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness!
“How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests,” Francis deplored.
“False prophets can also be ‘charlatans,’ who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.
“How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains,” he added.
Hailing the virtue of charity, the pope said: “More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money.”
He urged believers to turn to “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting” during Lent.
Francis, the first pope to adopt the name of a Medieval saint who gave up all his riches to live as a monk, has made a point of rejecting symbols of papal grandeur.
For example, he uses an ordinary hatchback as an official car, and days after his election in 2013, he said he wanted to lead “a poor church, for the poor.”