People should reflect on the values of poverty and frugality this Christmas because over-consumption has caused the current financial crisis, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun says in his Christmas message. The leader of the Hong Kong Catholic diocese also lamented that officials had failed to listen to the people and been lax in monitoring the financial system. 'Is it not over-consumption, greed for easy money, irresponsible financial management, refusal by government officials to answer to the people or to fulfil their responsibilities in financial market control which caused the crisis?' asked Cardinal Zen. He said the root cause of the crisis was over-consumption; people had spent more than they earned and were greedy in buying shares while ignoring the high risks. 'It is difficult to tell the difference between investments and gambling,' he said. While he was not opposed to people celebrating Christmas by buying gifts and dining with their families and friends, Cardinal Zen urged people to reflect on the humility of Christ's birth - in a manger, according to the Bible. 'Warmth and affection are the greatest wealth ... man is more precious than wealth,' he said, calling on his flock to care for those in need in the spirit of poverty and virtue of frugality. He criticised 'unscrupulous manipulators' for fabricating 'poisonous products', when the government 'collaborates with businesses'. With the market deteriorating under what he called extreme laissez-faire capitalism, Cardinal Zen said the collapse of the financial system showed prosperity was an illusion. 'In this situation the very rich can hold on to their devalued stock titles and wait for another chance to make money. But the real economy has been damaged. Ordinary people have already lost their jobs and cannot meet their home mortgage payments or even feed their families.'