Worshipping false idols such as money, power and physical beauty is perilous because they "create confusion in our spirit" and "drive us towards death," Pope Francis on Wednesday.
"We can be tempted to seek albeit short-lived consolation that appears to fill the well of loneliness and ease the fatigue of religious faith," Francis said.
He took aim at the modern world's obsession with power, success and beauty at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square.
"We think we can find solace in the security that money and worldly things may bring, or in power," Francis told pilgrims.
He gave the example of a woman in his native Argentina who said she had an abortion to keep her looks.
"She said, as if it was natural, 'Yes, I had to have an abortion because my appearance is important'," Francis stated.
"This hurts the soul," the 80-year-old pontiff said.
"When values such as physical beauty and health become idols to which everything must be sacrificed they create confusion in our spirit and in our hearts," he said.
"Worshipping these idols do not set us on the right road or bring happiness.
"Rather than promoting life, they drive us towards death," he added.
Catholic doctrine teaches that abortion is as sinful as murder. While Francis has stuck to this line, he has granted priests the power to forgive women who terminated their pregnancies.
Previously only bishops could absolve women from the sin of abortion.