Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Western societies, including his fellow Germans, for often shutting their ears to the Christian message, insisting Sunday that science and technology alone cannot combat AIDS and other social ills.
Addressing 250,000 pilgrims at an open air Mass in Munich, Benedict said modern people suffered from "hardness of hearing" when it comes to God and complained that "mockery of the sacred" is viewed as an exercise in freedom.
It was the second day of a pilgrimage to his Bavarian homeland, a six-day trip filled with nostalgic meaning for Benedict as well as for his liberal flock in Germany.
He said that faith must come first before progress can be made on social problems such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.
"Hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if, for example, AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes," Benedict said.