Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury both call on their congregations not to give up on young people, and to support the next generation in the coming year.
Dr Rowan Williams used his new year message to appeal to the public on behalf of young people.
The violence witnessed during the summer riots was “angry” and “lawless”, he said, adding that the events in the summer “showed us a face of our society we don’t like to think about – angry, destructive, lawless”.
But the Archbishop said that young people can “flourish” if shown the right support and love.
His message comes just weeks after the Archbishop published an article saying that the public is “afraid” of the the government, prompting David Cameron to warn the Church against becoming too involved in political issues.
Speaking about the riots, Dr Williams said that only a minority of young people were involved in the riots and that most young people did not condone the violence.
“Quite a lot of the images we’re likely to remember from the footage of the riots in the summer will be of young people out of control in the streets, walking off with looted property from shops, noisily confronting police and so on,” he said.
“It all feeds into the national habit of being suspicious and hostile when we see groups of youngsters on street corners or outside shops and bus shelters.”
The Archbishop called on people to improve their attitudes and actions towards young people, in order to help improve society as a whole.
“Being grown up doesn’t mean forgetting about the young,” he said, “and a good new year’s resolution might be to think what you can do locally to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment.
Being grown up doesn’t mean forgetting about the young and a good new year’s resolution might be to think what you can do locally to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment. Archbishop of Canterbury
“And above all, perhaps we should just be asking how we make friends with our younger fellow citizens – for the sake of our happiness as well as theirs.”
The new year message was filmed at Kids’ Company in south London and Dr Williams praised the charity, founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh, for supporting young people through difficult times.
“When you see the gifts they can offer, the energy that can be released when they feel safe and loved, you see what a tragedy we so often allow to happen,” he said.
During his New Year Mass, Pope Benedict also focused on supporting young people, and said that new generations must be educated in justice and peace to avoid further conflict.
Speaking to several thousand people in St Peter’s Basilica on the Catholic Church’s annual World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict said that educating the young “in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope”.
The pope called on his congregation to use advances in communications technology to promote peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding.
“Young people…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,” he said.
Pope Benedict, who is believed to suffer from arthritis in the legs, was wheeled up the central aisle of St Peter’s standing on a mobile platform, as has been usual since October.
According the Vatican, this is to save strength, allow more people to see him, and to prevent attacks such as the one on Christmas Eve in 2009, when a woman lunged at him and knocked him to the ground.