Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict led Roman Catholics into Holy Week celebrations, telling a Palm Sunday crowd that man will pay the price for his pride if he believes technology can give him the powers of God.
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Under a splendid Roman sun, the German pope presided at a colorful celebration where tens of thousands of people waved palm and olive branches to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified.
The pope, who turned 84 on Saturday, wove his sermon around the theme of man's relationship with God and how it can sometimes be threatened by technology.
"From the beginning men and women have been filled - and this is as true today as ever - with a desire to 'be like God', to attain the heights of God by their own powers," he said, wearing resplendent red and gold vestments.
"Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: We can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful," he said.
While the great advances of technology have improved life for man, the
pope said, they have also increased possibilities for evil, and recent
natural disasters were a reminder, if any were needed, that mankind is
If man wanted a relationship with God he had to first "abandon the pride
of wanting to become God," said the pope, celebrating his sixth Easter
season as the leader of the world's some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Palm Sunday, a moveable feast that is marked on the Sunday before
Easter, is celebrated throughout the Christian world to commemorate
Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of peace in the
At the ceremony a cantor recounted all the events in Jesus' life between
Palm Sunday and Easter. Via Della Conciliazione, the broad boulevard
leading to the Vatican, was bedecked with olive trees and bronze statues
depicting the "stations of the cross", or the last events in Jesus'
For the pope and Christians around the world, it marks the start of a hectic week of events leading to Easter Sunday.
On Holy Thursday, Benedict will preside at two traditional services in
the Vatican, including one in which he will wash and kiss the feet of
twelve men in a gesture of humility toward his apostles the night before