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Pope says selfish values fed economic crisis

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The economic crisis should push people to look at the values reflected in their civic life and prompt an honest evaluation of whether citizens are working together to promote justice and solidarity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Addressing the mayor of Rome and the presidents of the province of Rome and region of Lazio Jan. 12, the pope said citizens need to “recover values that are at the basis of a true renewal of society and that not only favor economic recovery, but also aim at promoting the integral good of the human person.”

The pope, as bishop of Rome, traditionally meets at the beginning of the year with the area’s political leaders, addressing social issues of particular concern to the church.

Pope Benedict told the civic leaders that among the causes of the financial crisis is “individualism, which obscures the relational dimension of the person and leads him to close himself off in his own little world, to be attentive mostly to his own needs and desires, worrying little about others.”

Speculation on property in Rome and surrounding areas, great reluctance to hire young people, the abandonment of the aged and the anonymity of city life are the “consequences of this mentality,” the pope said.

While Catholic parishes and the diocesan Caritas network are committed to community building, welcoming newcomers and helping the poor, he said, the government and individual citizens also have an obligation to promote solidarity and a renewed social life.

Pope Benedict also asked the governments to be more attentive to the needs of families, especially those with a large number of children.

“I encourage you to defend the family founded on marriage as an essential cell of society and to make every effort to guarantee each family has what it needs to live a dignified life,” he said.