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Pope Benedict XVI strongly criticized atheism in a major document released Friday, saying it had led to some of the "greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice" ever known.
In his second encyclical, Benedict also critically questioned modern Christianity, saying its focus on individual salvation had ignored Jesus' message that true Christian hope involves salvation for all.
Benedict sharply criticizes Marx and the 19th and 20th century atheism spawned by his revolution, although he acknowledges that both were responding to the deep injustices of the time.
"A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God," he wrote. But he said the idea that mankind can do what God cannot by creating a new salvation on Earth was "both presumptuous and intrinsically false."
"It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice," he wrote. "A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope."