Pope's appearance kicks off Rome's holiday shopping season as Benedict decries selfishness

Pope Benedict XVI has kept up a holiday tradition, praying at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps in the heart of the city's posh shopping district, and warning against selfishness.

The 85-year-old pontiff wore a long red cloak, bundled up against the damp and chilly air early Saturday evening. The Dec. 8 annual appearance, on a church holy day to honor the Virgin Mary, kicks off the city's holiday shopping season.

Benedict told a crowd of Romans and tourists that selfishness "triggers emptiness" in people, families, nations and the world, and he warned against "false remedies," including drug use" to fill these voids. He said that the "poisonous root of selfishness" makes people harm themselves and others.