Pope Francis to WEF: 'Humanity must be served by wealth, not ruled by it'

People walk past the Bank of England in London's City financial district, Monday, July 1, 2013

Pope Francis has called on business and government leaders to approach economic concerns with "a renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility" to protect the most vulnerable.

Pope Francis made the comments in a message to members of the World Economic Forum as its annual meeting got underway in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.

This year is the 44th WEF and the meeting is being attended by around 2,500 delegates from around the world in addition to 40 heads of state and government.

Over the next four days, they will discuss a range of issues under the title of "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business".

Topics are to include the status of the global economy, the continued humanitarian crisis in Syria, and the "new digital context" of economics, among many others.

Pope Francis was invited to attend the conference, but instead sent a message to the executive president, Klaus Schwab, through Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In his address, the Pope invited delegates to consider business and economics from a new perspective, "promoting an inclusive approach which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good".

He said their approach "ought to shape every political and economic decision", and suggested that those working in business and finance had a "precise responsibility" to protect the most vulnerable members of global society.

"It is intolerable that thousands of people continue to die every day from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available and often simple wasted," he stressed, before highlighting the plight of millions of refugees around the world.

Those with business acumen must use their skills to help "those who are still living in dire poverty", he urged.

"What is needed ... is a renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility on the part of all."

"I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it," he implored.

The Pope challenged leaders to use the WEF this year as an opportunity for "deeper reflection on the causes of the economic crisis" to ensure that it never happens again by putting in place processes towards the "better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment, and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality".

The conference is due to end on Saturday.

It is not the first time the Pope has spoken out strongly about the need to protect and support the vulnerable, and bring an end to extreme poverty.

He has repeatedly called for a "poor church for the poor", and declared in his apostolic exhortation last year: "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."