Pope Benedict XVI condemns ‘corruption and illegality’ of politicians and businesses on eve of G8

The Pope condemned the "corruption and illegality" of politicians  and businesses across the world as he called for a new order  based on the common good.

"Corruption and illegality are unfortunately evident in the conduct of the economic and political class in rich countries, both old and new, as well as in poor ones."

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent, Telegraph.co.uk

In a detailed critique of modern social, economic and environmental problems, delivered on the eve of a summit of the G8 leaders in Italy, Pope Benedict XVI warned that globalisation risked triggering a worldwide crisis.

He criticised the UN and said a new organisation "with real teeth" is needed to prevent another financial crisis, bring about peace and reduce the gap between rich and poor.

The pontiff also warned ordinary consumers that their everyday choices have moral consequences, and called for greater appreciation of the potential dangers of new developments in technology and medicine.

He concluded that progress will only benefit the world if it is based on a "Christian humanism" that takes into account more than profit or self-interest.

In the third encyclical he has written, called Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), the leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics wrote: "Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.

"In rich countries, new sectors of society are succumbing to poverty and new forms of poverty are emerging. In poorer areas some groups enjoy a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation.

"Corruption and illegality are unfortunately evident in the conduct of the economic and political class in rich countries, both old and new, as well as in poor ones."

He went on: "In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."

The pope said that globalisation, which has developed at a "ferocious" pace, represents a great opportunity but could "cause unprecedented damage and create new divisions" without the guidance of the common good.

In the same way, the economy and finance are not necessarily bad but can be made harmful by "man's darkened reason".

He warned that although technology can improve living conditions, there is a "pressing need" for its ethically responsible use, particularly in areas such as medicine where human clones and "eugenic programming" of babies is now possible.

The Pope also said that both religious fanaticism and atheism pose dangers by restricting spiritual freedom.

He concluded that development is only possible if mankind is able to transcend the "limited horizon" of the world to consider itself "part of God's family".

"Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved."

The newly installed head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, welcomed the Pope's letter as a "powerful and thorough application of the vision of Christian faith to the complex problems of human development".