VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the Vatican’s latest move to expand its use of media, an article on the meaning of Christmas by Pope Benedict XVI appeared Dec. 20 in Britain’s Financial Times newspaper.

“While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience,” the pope wrote. “At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?”

Writing in one of the business world’s most prominent publications, Pope Benedict stressed Christian duties to “fight poverty,” “work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources” and “oppose greed and exploitation.”

The pope also emphasized that Christians’ “involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology.”

Christians have historically opposed secular regimes that try “to take the place of God,” Pope Benedict wrote. “When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today … it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.”

According to a statement from the Vatican press office, the article was solicited by the Financial Times, and “despite the unusual nature of the request, the Holy Father accepted willingly.”

“This is just a great way to get to an audience that we don’t ordinarily reach,” said Greg Burke, media adviser to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and a former correspondent for Fox News.

The article appeared only three weeks after Pope Benedict inaugurated his personal Twitter accounts, which have attracted more than 2 million followers.

In accordance with Financial Times style, the pope’s article appeared with a line identifying its author as “the bishop of Rome and the author of ‘Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives,'” his latest best-selling book, which was published Nov. 20.

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