Pope warns youth in Oz

SYDNEY - Pope Benedict, wrapping up his visit to Australia, yesterday urged a crowd of 400000 young people to beware the spreading "spiritual desert" that often accompanied modern prosperity.

SYDNEY - Pope Benedict, wrapping up his visit to Australia, yesterday urged a crowd of 400000 young people to beware the spreading "spiritual desert" that often accompanied modern prosperity.

The pope flew by helicopter over hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who staged an all-night vigil at a racetrack ahead of the outdoor papal mass that formally ended World Youth Day celebrations.

"Side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading - an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair," he said.

Some 200000 young pilgrims camped out at the racetrack overnight, singing to keep warm. The crowd swelled to some 400000 as others, who slept elsewhere, flocked to the track on an overcast morning, organisers said. - Reuters

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