Pope Benedict Slams Capitalism, Economic Inequality

Calls for a new economic model, ethical regulations for markets

Pope Benedict XVI said in his New Year's peace message today that the world was under threat from unbridled capitalism.

The pope said "hotbeds of tension and confrontation caused by the growing inequality between rich and poor and the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mentality also expressed by unregulated financial capitalism."

The 85-year-old Catholic Church leader spoke at a New Year's Day Mass in the Vatican, then greeted a crowd of tens of thousands outside St Peter's Basilica. The Catholic Church marks its World Day of Peace on New Year's Day with events around the world.

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 manyThousands of peace marchers carrying rainbow banners released balloons in cold St Peter's Square as the pope spoke.

A longer version of the Pope's annual message was sent to heads of state, government and non-governmental organizations on December 14th.

Reuters reports that in that message "the Pope 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."

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."

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.

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