Pope Benedict has called for a new economic model and ethical regulations for markets, saying the global financial crisis was proof that capitalism does not protect the weakest members of society.
In his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, which was marked on Jan. 1, Benedict also warned that food insecurity was a threat to peace in some parts of the world.
He also strongly reaffirmed the church’s opposition to gay marriage, saying heterosexual marriage had an indispensable role in society.
The annual message, which traditionally centres on how to promote peace and how to reduce threats to peace, is sent to heads of state, government and institutions such as the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
In it the pope said economic models that seek maximum profit and consumption and encourage competition at all costs had failed to look after the basic needs of many and could sow social unrest.
“It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism,” he said.
The pope said people, groups and institutions were needed to foster human creativity, to draw lessons from the crisis and to create a new economic model.
The message had echoes of his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), in which he called for a world political authority to manage the global economy and for more government regulation of national economies.
“The creation of ethical structures for currency, financial and commercial markets is also fundamental and indispensable,” the pope said. “These must be stabilized and better co-ordinated and controlled so as not to prove harmful to the very poor.”
He said food insecurity was becoming an ever-increasing threat to peace and social stability, calling the food crisis even greater than the financial crisis.
Ensuring people have access to sufficient nutrition should be central to the international political agenda because of interrelated crises, sudden shifts in prices of basic foodstuffs, and unethical practices, he said.
There had been insufficient control of food security by governments and the international community and he called for more help for poor rural farmers.
In a report in October, the United Nations food agencies said one out of every eight people in the world is chronically undernourished.