Pope Francis tells the business elite gathered in Davos to help those 'still living in dire poverty'

Pope Francis on Tuesday called on the world's political and business elite gathered in Davos to use their spirit of entrepreneurship to alleviate crushing global poverty.

In a message read out at the opening ceremony of the annual World Economic Forum, Francis said: "Those who have demonstrated their ability to be innovative and for improving the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise can further contribute by putting their skills at the service of those who are still living in dire poverty."

It is "intolerable" that hunger continues to stalk the world even though "substantial quantities" of food are wasted, the pontiff added.

Ahead of the annual meeting of the global elite that ends Saturday, the charity Oxfam issued a report that said inequality had run so out of control, that the 85 richest people on the planet "own the wealth of half the world's population."

The pope alluded to this when he told delegates: "The majority of men and women of our time still continue to experience daily insecurity, often with dramatic consequences."

The Davos forum this year brings together 2,500 of the world's top movers and shakers, with about 40 leaders, a raft of ministers and business chiefs as well as celebrities, Nobel prize-winners and artists.