(Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, reads a message from Pope Francis at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 in Davos January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Pope Francis challenged business leaders assembled in Davos on Tuesday to put their wealth at the service of humanity instead of leaving most of the world’s population in poverty and insecurity.

In a message to more than 2,500 participants at the annual World Economic Forum, the pontiff urged industrialists and bankers to promote inclusive prosperity, but stopped short of chiding them for excesses laid bare by the global financial crisis.

“I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” Pope Francis said in the message read at the opening ceremony by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice.

The Argentinian pope, who has identified strongly with the poor since his election last year and severely criticized capitalism, acknowledged that business had helped lift millions out of poverty, even if it had led to widespread social exclusion.