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Vatican: Benedict's first book decries "plundering" of Africa by rich

The humanity must rediscover how to be good, pope Benedict XVI said. His first book is dedicated to the spiritual and material "plundering" of Africa by the wealthy.

"Jesus of Nazareth," which Benedict has described as a purely personal work on the life of Christ meant for general Catholic readers, is due in bookstores in Italian, Polish and German on April 16, his 80th birthday.

In an excerpt published this week in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Benedict meditates on the parable of the Good Samaritan and the need to love one's neighbor, and says it has current applications in Africa and other places.

"If we apply it to the globalized world, we see how the populations of Africa who have been robbed and plundered concern us," he writes, according to the excerpts.

The wealthy, he says, have stripped the poor bare and have wounded them spiritually.

"Instead of giving them their God, the God that is close to us in Christ, and welcome from their traditions all that is dear and great ... we brought them the cynicism of a world without God, in which only power and profit matters.

"We have destroyed the moral criteria, so that corruption and a desire for power without scruples becomes something obvious."

He criticizes the lifestyles of the wealthy, citing "victims of drugs, of human trafficking, of sexual tourism, people destroyed on the inside, who are empty despite the abundance of their material goods."

"We must ... learn the risk of being good; we are capable of it only if we ourselves become good inside," he writes.

The book is the first one Benedict has written since being elected pope in April 2005. A book he wrote while still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, ""The Europe of Benedict: In the crisis of cultures," was published in June 2005.

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