Pope urges end to Syria bloodshed, peace worldwide

By the Associated Press | December 25, 2011 | 6:46 AM EST

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in his traditional Christmas Day message.

Benedict on Sunday delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" speech (Latin for "to the city and to the world") from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica overlooking a sun-drenched piazza below, where thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims and hundreds of colorful Swiss Guards gathered.

The 84-year-old pope, fresh off a late-night Christmas Eve Mass, said he prayed that the birth of Jesus celebrated at Christmas would send a message to all who need to be saved from hardships. He cited refugees from the Horn of Africa and flood victims in Thailand, among others.