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Pope Francis has challenged business leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to adopt a "renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility" towards the "most frail, weak and vulnerable" of society, such as refugees and the hungry, and by devising a fairer distribution of wealth and creating more jobs.
"I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” the Pope said in message read by his envoy Cardinal Peter Turkson tonight at the opening of the 44th annual Forum.
Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, had specifically asked Francis to address the meeting of 2,500 industrialists and bankers in Switzerland.
The Pope’s message continued: "I know these words are forceful, even dramatic, but they seek both to affirm and challenge the ability of this assembly to make a difference."
"In fact, those who have demonstrated their aptitude for being innovative and for improving the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise can further contribute by putting their skills to the service of those still living in dire poverty," Francis said.
The Pope argued that the growth of equality had to be based on a "transcendent vision of the person".
"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," the Pope said.
The WEF's annual "Global Risks 2014" report last week highlighted rising income disparity and attendant social unrest as the biggest threat to the world.
Meanwhile a report from the charity Oxfam this week reported that the richest 85 people in the world now own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world's population, or some 3.5 billion people.