Christians celebrate Christmas Day across the globe

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Political and religious leaders worldwide have marked Christmas Day by calling for peace and reconciliation in conflicts across the globe.

Pope Benedict delivered a Christmas Day address from a balcony at St. Peter's Basilica and said he hopes the celebration of Christ's birth will bring consolation to people who, in his words, "live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war."

In Iraq, a recent drop in violence allowed thousands of Christians to celebrate in their churches. However, the traditional Midnight Mass in Baghdad was held in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve because it's still considered too dangerous for large groups to gather at night.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, recent peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians prompted a large increase in Christians making the pilgrimage to Bethlehem.

Western leaders also celebrated the holiday. Queen Elizabeth urged the British to think of the needs of the poor. President Bush spent Christmas at Camp David with his extended family. He leaves today for a holiday break at his ranch in Texas.

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