Pope Benedict XVI delivered his Urbi et Orbi address on Christmas day to a crowd gathered in Saint Peter's Square, expressing hope which comes from the birth of Christ, and calling for peace in regions of the world where there is conflict.
"In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven," the Pope said.
"God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family."
The Holy Father continued: "This same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born!"
Citing the scriptures, Pope Benedict said: "'The earth has yielded its fruits' (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! 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. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace."
The Holy Father then called for peace in countries torn by conflict, such as Syria, which "does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims… 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."
The Pope also called for peace in the Holy Land, asking God to "grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation."
"In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future – and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus – may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person," said the Pope.
The Holy Father called for peace throughout the Asian continent, making special mention of the People's Republic of China, calling on its new leaders to "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."
Also mentioned in the Pope's address were the countries of Mali, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya, calling for peace, and asking God to bring comfort to the suffering in those places.
Finally, Pope Benedict called for peace in Latin America, asking Christ to "bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime."