Lent is a time for self-examination and to let go of all traces of selfishness, which is the root of violence, Pope Benedict XVI said.
"The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death," which is why during Lent the church encourages almsgiving, "which is the capacity to share," the pope said in his annual message for Lent.
The text of the pope's message for Lent 2011, which begins March 9 for Latin-rite Catholics, was released at a Vatican news conference Feb. 22.
Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes Catholic charitable giving, told reporters, "Intense misery leads to economic and political instability, creating a vacuum for conflict and unrest that produce a vicious circle of deepening hardship, especially for the most vulnerable."
The cardinal said the pope's message underscores the fact that "the encounter with Christ in his word and the sacraments manifests itself in concrete works of mercy."