Pope tells diplomats that economy needs 'new rules'

VATICAN CITY -- The world economy needs "new rules" to overcome the current financial crisis and to ensure that "all can lead a dignified life," Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican diplomats on Monday (Jan. 9).

Benedict's New Year's address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See traditionally presents the Vatican's views on global affairs. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 179 countries, and is a permanent observer at the United Nations.

The pope called the effects of the financial crisis "grave and disturbing," and said that many people, especially the young, feel "disoriented and frustrated in their aspirations for a serene future."

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"We must not lose heart, but instead resolutely rediscover our way through new forms of commitment," he said.

Benedict also highlighted violations of religious freedom and persecutions against Christians, including recent attacks against churches in Nigeria. He also noted some "encouraging signs" on religious freedom, including a European court ruling that allows crucifixes to remain in Italian schoolrooms.

The pontiff called for an end to the "bloodshed" in Syria, and said countries touched by the Arab Spring must fully recognize human rights to make sure that the movement's initial "optimism" doesn't yield to today's "difficulties."

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