In opening a Vatican synod of Roman Catholic bishops about Africa, Pope Benedict XVI denounced the West's materialism and lack of moral values. Reuters reports he compared Africa to a spiritual "lung" at risk of being attacked by the toxic waste of materialism and religious fundamentalism. This will give African leaders heart over their perennial claims that colonialism has never really come to an end. Benedict also spoke out against religious fundamentalism, which he said was mixed with political and economic interests, and taught intolerance and violence, not love and freedom. While the number of Catholics in the more secular developed world has declined, Africa's Catholic population has risen from about 2 million in 1900 to about 140 million in 2000. And while the continent itself doesn’t need Wall Street’s excesses, BMWs or palatial mansions of the Michael Jackson kind, the Neverland fantasies of many of its overtly self-indulgent leaders are what is really keeping the continent poor and undeveloped.
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