Pope Calls on Youth In New Year’s Homily

In his New Year’s sermon in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI called today’s young people essential to a hopeful future in the face of "shadows on the horizon of today's world."

"I would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today's world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope," the Pontiff said.

Pope Benedict XVI, 84, did not disclose the specific social issues that contribute to society’s “shadows,” but pushed that young people were the key to fighting them.

According to the Pope, today’s youth must "learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent," Pope Benedict said, according The Associated Press.

Young people will become "builders of peace" with proper education, the Pope added.

Thousand of Romans, tourists and Holy See Ambassadors from countries all around the world sat before the Pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica to listen to his sermon and celebrate Mass on a day the Vatican chooses to dedicate to world peace.

Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano, said in a statement released by the presidential palace, he agreed with the Pope’s "invitation to look at 2012 with a trusting attitude, even though the sense of frustration for the crisis assailing society, the work world and the economy, is quite understandable."

"I, too, cannot thus help but reiterate the importance of renewed attention that all components of society must dedicate to the anxieties and problems of the young generations," President Napolitano said.

Pope Benedict invited the crowd to pray with him "earnestly for peace throughout the world, for reconciliation and forgiveness in areas of conflict, and for a more just and equitable distribution of the world's resources," after the Mass, the AP reported.

Benedict again prayed for young people, saying they "look today with a certain apprehension toward the future," with concerns over "the difficulty in starting a family and finding a stable job."