In poorer countries, people’s lives were becoming “undignified” and marked by violence and desperation, he said.
Francis made the strongly-worded remarks in his first major speech on finance and the economy, during an address to foreign ambassadors in the Vatican.
It underlined a reputation he has established in the last two months for showing deep concern for the plight of the poor and vulnerable.
“The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal,” Francis told the ambassadors.
As the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina, he often spoke out about the plight of the poor during the country’s economic crisis.
Unchecked capitalism had created “a new, invisible, and at times virtual, tyranny”, said the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.
“The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them,” he said.
Francis will make the first foreign trip of his papacy to Brazil in July, during which he will visit a slum in Rio de Janeiro and meet young prison inmates.
He will attend World Youth Day, a week-long event which is expected to attract more than two million people.