updated 12/9/2007 4:09:00 PM ET 2007-12-09T21:09:00

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday criticized “materialistic” ways of celebrating Christmas, pressing the Vatican’s campaign against unbridled consumerism.

His brief comments, delivered from the window of his private studio to pilgrims below in St. Peter’s Square, built on his dismay that ever younger boys and girls are caught up in consumer pursuits.

“The way of living out, and perceiving, Christmas unfortunately quite often suffers from a materialistic mentality,” Benedict said.

Addressing English-speaking pilgrims, the pope said he was praying that the approaching Christmas celebration “will fill your hearts with redeeming hope.”

On Saturday, the pope lamented that children and adolescents were being deceived by “false models” of happiness pushed by adults who lead them down “the dead-end streets of consumerism.”

Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, also cautioned faithful against the consequences of unchecked materialism on morality.

Benedict made the annual Dec. 8 papal visit to a 150-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary just steps from the holiday shopping frenzy on Rome’s chic Via Condotti.

En route to pray at the statue, Benedict chatted with the head of a Via Condotti merchants association.

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