(Vatican City) Speaking from the main balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his Christmas message "Urbi et Orbi," to the city of Rome and the entire world.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, says Pope Benedict, and his birth means "there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust even in the most difficult times."
Benedict calls for peace for the people of Syria, deeply wounded by a conflict that doesn't spare civilians and reaps innocent victims. Appealing for peace in the Holy Land, the Pope says he hopes Jesus will grant Israelis and Palestinians the courage to end long years of conflict and division.
Benedict also mentions Egypt, where a major political transition is taking place, Asia and, in particular, China where he says, a difficult task awaits the country's new leaders, asking them to respect religious freedom.
The Pope has special words for Mali and Nigeria, where terrorism continues to reap victims, particularly among Christians, and Latina America, an area from which many people are forced to emigrate, he says, in order to sustain their families.
Just before his blessing, Pope Benedict gave his Christmas greetings in 65 languages.
"May the birth of the prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies, and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for The savior has been born to us."