Christmas Marked Around the World
VIDEO: Around the world, Christians — and even some non-Christians — get into the jolly spirit as they mark Christmas. But for some of the world's less fortunate, the joy and happiness of a holiday about peace and goodwill contrasts with harsher realities.
World and religious leaders have marked the December 25 Christmas holiday with celebrations and messages to their supporters. Some leaders have focused on peace and reconciliation.
As he stood on the balcony at St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis focused on some of the world's hot spots as he delivered his first "Urbi et Orbi" message to the city and world.
He said "too many lives have been shattered" by the conflict in Syria. He called for "social harmony" to be fostered in South Sudan. And he expressed hope for a "favorable outcome" to peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Pilgrims from around the world have gathered for religious celebrations in Bethlehem. The Palestinian West Bank town is the biblical birthplace of Jesus.
At a Christmas eve service, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal offered a message of hope. "Our message is a message of love and peace and brotherhood between all of us. Happy new year to you all," he said.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth has delivered her annual Christmas message to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. She said Christmas can be a time of reflection.
"Reflection can take many forms, when families and friends come together at Christmas, it is often a time for happy memories and reminiscing. Our thoughts are with those who we have loved who are no longer with us," she said.
In his Christmas message, U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to U.S. troops stationed overseas.
"Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays. But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family," he stated.
There was a message of hope at a Christmas mass in the Philippine city of Tacloban, where people are still reeling from the effects of a November typhoon that killed thousands and displaced millions.
In a church that was damaged by the storm, Assistant Parish Priest Madeo Alvero urged worshippers to look to the future. "We may be homeless. We may be roofless but we are not hopeless," he said. He added, "This is our battle cry."
He urged worshippers to have hope that the city and the province would rise again.