The Pope’s Christmas Day message.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking from St. Peter’s Basilica this morning:

“On this day of peace, my thoughts turn especially to those places where the grim sound of arms continues to reverberate,” he said, emphasising “the whole of the Middle East — especially Iraq, Lebanon and the Holy Land.” […]

[He] prayed that political leaders would find “the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions.”

The pontiff spoke of “those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war … those who are still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education, stable employment.

“It is the most vulnerable members of society — women, children, the elderly — who are so often the victims of brutal armed conflicts, terrorism and violence of every kind, which inflict such terrible sufferings on entire populations,” he said.