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Financial crisis shows wealth a 'house built on sand': Pope

The economic meltdown being felt in nations around the world shows how fleeting modern materialism is, Pope Benedict said Monday.

The economic meltdown being felt in nations around the world shows how fleeting modern materialism is, Pope Benedict said Monday.

"We see it now in the collapse of the great banks that money disappears, it's nothing," the pontiff said Monday at a  conference of bishops at the Vatican.

The global financial turmoil, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, has wiped away hundreds of billions of dollars in shareholder wealth and felled banking institutions that only months ago seemed solid.

In a possible reference to the collapse of the U.S. housing market, which triggered the financial crisis, the pointiff turned to a biblical metaphor.

"Whoever builds his life on this reality —on material things, on success — … builds [his house] on sand. Only the word of God is the foundation of all reality," he said.

On Friday, evidence of the greed on Wall Street that contributed to the financial collapse in the United States turned up at congressional hearings that got underway on Capitol Hill.

According to a Lehman Brothers document filed Sept. 11, the firm's compensation board recommended three executives leaving the company be given $20 million US in "special payments."

Three days later, the famed investment banking firm declared bankruptcy after pleading for but failing to get a federal bailout.

With files from the Associated Press and Reuters