Pope Benedict XVI has criticized Western society for what he called its lack of hope, which he said leads many people to seek sexual gratification instead of practicing faith and family values.

The pontiff also deplored poverty and other evils burdening families in Rome and elsewhere. He made his comments in St. Peter's Basilica during a homily at the final evening prayer offered there in 2007.

Pope Benedict then expressed hope that efforts by the faithful to deal with such problems will be successful and bear fruit.

The pope is to begin the New Year Tuesday with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates January 1 as its World Day of Peace.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.