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Pope says financial crisis shows money an illusion

Pope Benedict XVI speaks during the opening meeting of the Synod of the bishops at the Nervi Hall in the Vatican October 6, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Monday that the global financial crisis showed that faith in God trumped a lifetime spent pursuing material wealth.

“We see it now in the collapse of the great banks that money disappears, it’s nothing,” the Pontiff said.

The global financial turmoil, the worst since the Great Depression, has wiped away hundreds of billions of euros (dollars) in shareholder wealth and felled banking institutions that just months ago seemed untouchable.

The pontiff, using a biblical metaphor, said people who ignored the word of God to pursue wealth had effectively built their homes on sand instead of on a solid foundation of faith.

It was a possible reference to the collapse of the U.S. housing market, which triggered the financial crisis.

“Whoever builds his life on this reality, on material things, on success ... builds (his house) on sand. Only the word of God is the foundation of all reality,” he said.

Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Sami Aboudi