Pope calls for sobriety, solidarity and change in 2009

|PIC1|Pope Benedict XVI has called for “sobriety and solidarity” and major changes to the global financial system.

In his end-of-year vespers service at St Peter’s Basilica last night, the Pope told the faithful that the “not to be fearful” in the face of “shadows of uncertainty and worry for the future”, but encouraged them to instead return to the virtues of “sobriety and solidarity” to restore the world.

The Pope repeated his Christmas Day appeal to people to consider the needs of others, warning that “if people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart”.

In his New Year’s Day blessing to thousands of people in a soggy St Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict challenged world leaders to use the financial crisis to make major changes to the global economic system.

"It's not enough, as Jesus said, to put patches on an old suit," he said.

Taking up the issue again in his New Year’s Day homily, the Pope urged world leaders not to respond to the crisis with “short-term answers” but instead seek “a profound revision” to save the world from climate change, poverty and a “moral and cultural crisis”.

“Are we ready to make a profound revision in the dominant development model, to correct it in a farsighted and concerted way?” he asked. “The state of the planet's environment and above all the cultural and moral crisis demand this, even more than the immediate financial problems.”

Turning to the conflict in Gaza, he prayed for Israel and Palestinians “to live in peace and dignity” and for an end to “violence, hatred and mistrust” in 2009.

January 1 also marks the Roman Catholic Church’s annual World Day of Peace. The Pope used the occasion to call on the world to promote human dignity and build peace by fighting global poverty.

“Every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person,” he said.