Pope challenges world leaders over financial crisis

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The Independent Online

The pope today challenged world leaders to make major changes to the global financial system, saying short-term answers to the financial crisis were not sufficient.

"It's not enough, as Jesus said, to put patches on an old suit," he said in his New Year's Day blessing to thousands at the Vatican.

Echoing a similar theme in his New Year's Day homily, the pope said the crisis should be seen as a test-case about the future of globalization.

"Are we ready to read it in its complexity as a way for the future and not just an emergency to respond to with short-term answers?" he asked. "Are we ready to make a profound revision in the dominant development model, to correct it in a farsighted and concerted way?"

He said the health of the planet required such a correction, as well as what he called the "cultural and moral crisis" in which the world finds itself.

The pope has spoken out frequently about the financial crisis, and he used the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, celebrated every 1 January, to emphasise his belief that the meltdown showed the need for greater solidarity with the poor.

"Seen in its profundity, the crisis should be seen as a serious symptom that requires intervention at its root," he said.

During his homily, the pope also said he was praying for an end to the violence in Gaza and said he hoped the international community would come forward with concrete proposals so the Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace, security and dignity.