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Pope Urges Davos Elite To Serve Humanity With Wealth

posted 22 Jan 2014, 06:05 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Jan 2014, 06:05 ]

A message from Pope Francis was read to political and business leaders at the opening of the World Economic Forum calling on them to serve humanity with wealth.

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND (JANUARY 21, 2014) (REUTERS) - Pope Francis challenged business leaders assembled in Davos on Tuesday (January 21) to put their wealth at the service of humanity instead of leaving most of the world's population in poverty and insecurity.

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In a message to more than 2,500 participants at the opening of the annual World Economic Forum, the pontiff urged industrialists and bankers to promote inclusive prosperity, but stopped short of chiding them for excesses laid bare by the global financial crisis.

The pontiff called for humanity to be served by wealth and not ruled by it in the message read at the opening ceremony by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice.

The Argentinian pope, who has identified strongly with the poor since his election last year and severely criticised capitalism, acknowledged that business had helped lift millions out of poverty, even if it had led to widespread social exclusion.

"The growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all 'a transcendent vision of the person'," he said in the message.

"It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality," he added.

Rising income disparity and attendant social unrest were flagged as the biggest threat to the world in the WEF's annual "Global Risks 2014" report last week.

Inequality has been widening since the 1980s but the issue has risen up the agenda since the financial crisis that erupted in 2008.

A new generation of young people coming of age in the 2010s, who lack jobs and hope of social improvement, is fuelling pent-up frustration, with a wave of protests from Thailand to Brazil.

The richest 85 people in the world now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world's population, or some 3.5 billion people, according to a report from the charity Oxfam this week.

Oxfam said there a need for some economic inequality to reward those with talent, skills and ambition but the current extreme situation was "damaging and worrying".