pope_benedict_xvi_web.jpgVATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI in his New Year’s homily Sunday praised young people as key to securing a future of hope despite what he called “shadows on the horizon of today's world.”

In the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, with ambassadors to the Holy See from dozens of countries seated in the front rows, the pontiff , wearing white vestments with gold-colored trimmings, celebrated Mass on a day the Vatican dedicates to world peace.

Young people, he said, 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,” Benedict said.

But they will become “builders of peace” if properly educated, he predicted.

After Mass, in remarks in English from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, jammed with tens of thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims, Benedict invited all 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.”

Photo: Pope Benedict XVI