26 Dec 2012

Political solution in Syria urged by Pope

7:40 am on 26 December 2012

Pope Benedict XVI called for a political solution in Syria during his Christmas message in Vatican City.

In Urbi et Orbi on Tuesday, the pontiff called for all sides in the conflict to engage in dialogue.

"May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict that does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims," he told pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

Some 40,000 people are reported to have been killed in Syria since an anti-government uprising began early in 2011.

Pope Benedict also prayed for harmony in Nigeria, lamenting what he called "savage acts of terrorism" that frequently target Christians.

And he urged China's new leadership to respect the contribution of religion in creating a "fraternal society".

During Christmas Eve Mass on Monday night, Benedict urged Christians to "find time and room for God in their fast-paced lives".