"Without God, man ultimately chooses selfishness over solidarity and love, material things over values, having over being. We must return to God, so that man may return to being man" Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at the shrine at Loreto, where he went this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII went there on the eve of that great Council, and Papa B. told the 10,000-strong crowd this week that he was following in the footsteps of that "unforgettable Pope".
Various meetings took me to a suburban shopping centre for much of yesterday. It is a place which has been familiar to me from childhood, and ought to be rather nice now, as the old High Street has been pedestrianised. The shops are all large-scale chain-stores, and the street was filled with stalls selling cheap clothes and fake jewellry, and there was loud rock music blaring...but instead of a sense of friendly bustle, it seemed to be filled with people - among them many who were unusually fat! - with an odd listlessness, eating and shouting, throwing food wrappers on to the street, gazing at shop windows and in a weird way, despite the crowds, somehow disconnected from one another.