Pope Francis appeals for peace and humanitarian help to suffering MidEast Christians as he delivers his traditional ''Urbi et Orbi'' (''To the City and the World'') Christmas message and blessing at the Vatican. Justin Mitchell reports
Pope Francis delivering his Christmas message this year -- and making it count (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "I ask him, the Savior of the world, today, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution." Francis used his statement to speak out on conflicts across the globe. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: (BEGINS OVER POPE DELIVERING CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM BALCONY) "May the Lord open hearts to trust, and may he bestow his peace upon the whole Middle East, beginning with the land blessed by his birth, thereby sustaining the efforts of those committed effectively to dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians." He also called for peace through dialogue everywhere from Ukraine to Nigeria. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: (BEGINS OVER POPE DELIVERING CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM BALCONY) "I beseech all who have political responsibility to commit themselves through dialogue to overcoming differences and to building a lasting, fraternal coexistence." On Christmas Eve, the Pope made a surprise phone call to Christian refugees in Iraq -- further highlighting his focus on social engagement.