Dec 11, 8:21 AM (ET)

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict warned on Sunday against rampant materialism which he said was polluting the spirit of Christmas.

“In today’s consumer society, this time of the year unfortunately suffers from a sort of commercial ‘pollution’ that threatens to alter its real spirit,” the Pope told a large crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear his weekly Angelus blessing.

He said Christmas should be marked with sober celebrations and urged Christians to display a nativity crib in their houses as “a simple but effective way of showing their faith and conveying it to their children.”

Last year, under Pope John Paul, the Vatican launched a high-profile campaign to urge Roman Catholic Italy not to compromise the spirit of Christmas through excess or dilute its message out of fear of offending a growing Muslim population.

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