(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Christmas at the Vatican on Saturday, where he conducted Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
He called on Catholics to remember that Christmas marks the birth of Christ, and urged peace around the world, particularly in the Middle East.
"May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the Land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful co-existence," Benedict said.
He also hoped this season would bring consolation to Christians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
The pope criticized China for imposing limits on religious freedom among Catholics in the country.
He greeted the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square, before dining at the Vatican with some of Rome's homeless.
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