VATICAN CITY, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- In his first Christmas Eve message as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI Saturday pleaded for peace in the Middle East.
"We wish to pray for peace in the Holy Land," the pope told thousands of pilgrims jammed into St. Peter's Square to hear his mass in Rome.
"On this night, when we look towards Bethlehem, let us pray in a special way for the birthplace of our redeemer and for the men and women who lives and suffer there."
The message was broadcast live to 46 countries, the BBC reported. Pope Benedict will deliver his traditional Christmas message to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics at noon Sunday.