By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Friday called for a new economic model and ethical regulations for markets, saying the global financial crisis was proof that capitalism does not protect the weakest members of society.
In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, which is marked on Jan. 1, Benedict also warned that a food insecurity was a threat to peace in some parts of the world.
He also strongly reaffirmed the Church's opposition to gay marriage, saying heterosexual marriage had an indispensable role in society.
The annual message, which traditionally centres on how to promote peace and how to reduce threats to peace, is sent to heads of state, government and institutions such as the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.
In it the pope said economic models that seek maximum profit and consumption and encourage competition at all costs had failed to look after the basic needs of many and could sow social unrest.
"It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism," he said.
The pope said people, groups and institutions were needed to foster human creativity, to draw lessons from the crisis and to create a new economic model.
The message had echoes of his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), in which he called for a world political authority to manage the global economy and for more government regulation of national economies.
"The creation of ethical structures for currency, financial and commercial markets is also fundamental and indispensable," the pope said in Friday's message. "These must be stabilised and better coordinated and controlled so as not to prove harmful to the very poor."
He said food insecurity was becoming an ever-increasing threat to peace and social stability, calling the food crisis even greater than the financial crisis.
Ensuring people have access to sufficient nutrition should be central to the international political agenda because of inter-related crises, sudden shifts in prices of basic foodstuffs, and unethical practices, he said.
There had been insufficient control of food security by governments and the international community and he called for more help for poor rural farmers.
In a report in October, the United Nations food agencies said one out of every eight people in the world is chronically undernourished.
In his message, the pope also attacked moves to liberalise abortion and euthanasia, saying they posed a threat to the fundamental right to life and again denounced gay marriage.
The Vatican has recently stepped up its attack against moves to make gay marriage legal following gains in the United States, France and Spain. (Reporting By Philip Pullella. Editing by Jane Merriman)