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Pope opens holiday season decrying selfishness

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December 8, 2012 11:40 AM EST | AP

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ROME — Pope Benedict XVI has kept up a holiday tradition, praying at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps in the heart of the city's posh shopping district, and warning against selfishness.

The 85-year-old pontiff wore a long red cloak, bundled up against the damp and chilly air early Saturday evening. The Dec. 8 annual appearance, on a church holy day to honor the Virgin Mary, kicks off the city's holiday shopping season.

Benedict told a crowd of Romans and tourists that selfishness `'triggers emptiness" in people, families, nations and the world, and he warned against `'false remedies," including drug use" to fill these voids. He said that the `'poisonous root of selfishness" makes people harm themselves and others.