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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 September 2007, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Pope demands respect for Sundays
Pope Benedict XVI in Vienna

Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for renewed respect for Sundays as he celebrated Mass at St Stephen's cathedral in the heart of Vienna.

He was speaking on the final day of his three-day visit to Austria.

In his sermon, the Pope said leisure was a good thing amid the mad rush of the modern world, but warned of the dangers of it becoming wasted time.

Correspondents say the papal visit to Austria comes as the influence of the Catholic Church is in decline there.

Growing secularisation

"Give the soul its Sunday, give Sunday its soul," the Pope said, quoting a phrase coined by a German bishop in the 20th Century.

"Leisure time is certainly something good and necessary, especially amid the mad rush of the modern world," he said in his sermon.

The Pope added though that if leisure lacked an inner focus, it could easily become wasted time.

The number of Austrians who regularly attend Sunday Mass has diminished to a tiny proportion of those who call themselves Catholics, according to church statistics, BBC's David Willey reports from Vienna.

The Pope was visiting Austria not only as a pilgrim, but also as a missionary, according to the local press.

His aim during the three-day visit was to help revitalise religious practice in an increasingly secular Austrian society, our correspondent adds.

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