The pope has an urgent warning as much of the world prepares to mark the New Year 2012.
In a message released for the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, Pope Benedict XVI warns, "It seems as if a shadow has fallen over our time." He cites a "rising sense of frustration," especially among young people, as economic problems and unemployment continue to plague parts of the world.
The pontiff urges world leaders to stop focusing too much on profit and material possessions, calling the intense focus a threat to human dignity.
Pope Benedict's message comes after a year when protesters took to the streets - from Tunisia and Egypt to New York and London - to demand political and economic changes.
The German-born pope says young people need hope and guidance. He urged world leaders to make sure young people and young families have access to adequate education and support programs.
Pope Benedict also urges young people not to give into discouragement, saying they "can offer new hope" to the world.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.