Pope expresses hope, calls for peace
December 25, 2012 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
- Pope Benedict XVI delivered his Christmas message Tuesday
- He said there's a hope in this world that can be trusted, "even at the most difficult times"
- Benedict called for peace in Syria, Nigeria and other places of tension and strife
- He spoke to a crowd of about 50,000 gathered at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City
(CNN) -- On Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI spread a hopeful message to his followers, calling for peace in many of the world's hot spots.
From Syria to northern Nigeria, the leader of the Catholic Church urged dialogue and the protection of civilians.
"In this world, there is a good soil God has prepared," the pope said. "Consequently, there is hope in the world; a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations."
Read more: Pope Benedict sends first personal tweet
Benedict spoke to a crowd of about 50,000 gathered at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.
Celebrating Christmas around the world
Pope debunks Christmas myths
He called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, where a civil war has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
"May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims," Benedict said. "Once again, I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict."
Benedict also asked for dialogue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"May peace spring up in the land where the redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end long years of conflict and division and embark resolutely on the path of negotiation," he said.
Read more: Pope pardons ex-butler jailed over Vatican leaks
Regarding China, where there have been tensions this year between the Catholic Church and Chinese authorities over the oversight of church leaders there, Benedict called for expanded freedom of religion.
Addressing China's new leaders, he expressed hope that, "in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people and of the whole world."
Benedict also expressed concern about violence in Mali and Nigeria, "where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians."
And he expressed hope that the citizens of Egypt will "build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person."
The pontiff added, before delivering Christmas blessings in 65 languages: "May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," Pope Francis said.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
No topic has been off limits for Pope Francis so far.
June 14, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
Pope Francis prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile because it is a glass "sardine can" that walls him off from people.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace with Pope Francis.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1846 GMT (0246 HKT)
As the Holy Land prepares for a papal visit, Ivan Watson speaks to the man preparing to honor the pontiff with his food.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Three of the best-loved leaders in the history of the Roman Catholic church will be united this weekend.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are to be made into saints this weekend in an unprecedented double papal canonization.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Here are five things you need to know about the much-loved "Good Pope."
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Not a jot of doctrine has changed in the year since Francis became Pope. But there's more than one way to measure his impact.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in a ceremony in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica -- the first such appointments since he was elected pontiff.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
"The spring evening in which Pope Francis was elected is an apt symbol of the beginning of his papacy and the years that will follow," writes a priest.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
In a gesture towards Valentine's Day, Pope Francis gave his advice on how to have a happy marriage before thousands of couples.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1912 GMT (0312 HKT)
A senior Vatican official acknowledged Thursday there is "no excuse" for child sex abuse.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
Take a look at Pope Francis' first year in photos with our gallery.
November 7, 2013 -- Updated 2343 GMT (0743 HKT)
It was the embrace that melted hearts worldwide.
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis kisses and hugs disabled boy lifted up in the crowd.
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
With the new pope himself a trained scientist, could the timing could be right for a new era of cooperation between the Vatican and science?
March 16, 2013 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Pope Francis is being painted as a humble and simple man, but his past is tinged with controversy.