Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the "gift of peace" this year, condemning the inequality between rich and poor and "unregulated financial capitalism" at a New Year's mass in St Peter's Basilica.
The Pope spoke of "hotbeds of tension and confrontation caused by the growing inequality between rich and poor and the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mentality also expressed by unregulated financial capitalism."
But he also said that humanity had "an innate vocation for peace" and quoted from the Biblical passage: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
Peacemakers "are like the yeast in the dough - they allow humanity to grow according to God's design," he said.
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates New Year's Day as World Peace Day.
The Pope later addressed a crowd in St Peter's Square with his traditional Angelus prayer and invoked the blessing of the Virgin Mary "like a mother blesses her children who are about to set off on a voyage."
"A new year is like a voyage. With the light and grace of God, may it be a voyage of peace for every person and every family, for every country and for the whole world," he said.