Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated his call for an end to bloodshed in Syria during his traditional Christmas message, the Urbi et Orbi, in Vatican city.
He made this call In front of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square where he called for dialogue and a political solution in Syria.
“I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced,” he said.
Tens of thousands have been killed in Syria since an anti-government uprising began early in 2011.
The Pope said: “May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims.”
The Urbi et Orbi, which means to the city and the world, is a customary part of Christmas for Roman Catholics.
On Monday, Christmas Eve Mass, usually celebrated at midnight, was brought forward by two hours to avoid tiring the 85-year-old pontiff.
At the Mass, he urged Christians to “find time and room for God in their fast-paced lives”.