Pope Benedict XVI warned Friday that respect for human dignity "is seriously threatened" by concerns over profit, utility and material possessions.
At a time when the economic crisis is causing a "rising sense of frustration" in society, young people need to be educated on the ethical needs for achieving justice and peace, he said.
The pope expressed his concerns in an annual written message for the church's celebration of its World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, saying "it seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time, preventing us from clearly seeing the light of day."
But he said he is convinced that the young "with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world."
At the same time, Benedict urged political leaders to give young people "a transparent image of politics as a genuine service to the good of all."
He said that despite "the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possessions."
The pope's homily during a New Year's Day Mass will concentrate on the themes in the message.