Pope Francis used his first Easter message today to criticise the forces of capitalist greed and environmental destruction.
Addressing 250,000 worshippers in a flower-strewn St Peter’s Square, the new Pontiff sought to cement his reputation as a champion of the poor aiming his greetings at "every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons."
Dressed in simple cream robes, which starkly contrasted with those of his predecessor, he called for peace in a world “still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century.”
The world’s first Latin American Pope also used the traditional Urbi et Orbi (city and world) address to criticise the “iniquitous exploitation of natural resources” and urge mankind to become “responsible guardians of creation.”
He decried the seemingly intractable conflicts in the Middle East - particularly the two-year civil war in Syria - and the rekindled tensions on the Korean peninsula as well as the new conflict zones in Africa.
Meanwhile the newly-enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury used his inaugural Easter address to call for a sense of realism over the political class’s failure to remedy the current crisis in capitalism.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, a former oil executive, said: "A political party gets a new leader and three months later there is comment about disappointment," he said.
“An economy suffers the worst blow in generations with a debt crisis and economic downturn, and the fact that not everything is perfect within five years is seen as total failure. Complexity and humanity are ignored and we end up unreasonably disappointed with every institution, group and policy, from politicians to NHS, education to environment," he added.
He also warned against the "hero leader culture" - an apparent reference to reports on Friday that only 40 per cent of churchgoers are convinced the new archbishop can resolve the problems of the Church of England - which he claimed led to unfair blame in society.