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Pope's Christmas Eve homily calls for Mideast peace

  • Story Highlights
  • Pope Benedict XVI also calls for an end to exploitation of children
  • Pope seeks end to violence in to "the land in which Jesus lived"
  • Person jumps barrier as Pope leaves; security quickly tackles person
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VATICAN CITY, Vatican (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI called for peace in the Middle East and an end to the exploitation of children in the homily he delivered early Thursday during the annual Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Pope Benedict XVI calls for a "conversion of hearts" to help children.

Pope Benedict XVI calls for a "conversion of hearts" to help children.

He later delivered the traditional Christmas address in St. Peter's Square, sending Christmas greetings in languages including English, Spanish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Slovak and many others. The address is known as "Urbi et Orbi" -- Latin for "To the City and the World."

Benedict, 81, called for the faithful to pray for peace to come to "the land in which Jesus lived, and which he loved so deeply."

"Let us pray for mutual understanding, that hearts will be opened, so that borders can be opened," he said.

The pontiff also called for special consideration for suffering children who are homeless, forced to serve as soldiers or exploited in pornography "and every other appalling form of abuse."

"The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children; to do everything possible to make the light of Bethlehem touch the heart of every man and woman," he said. Video Watch Pope Benedict deliver his message during midnight Mass »

"Only through the conversion of hearts, only through a change in the depths of our hearts can the cause of all this evil be overcome."

Thousands heard the pope, in white and gold robes, speak inside the basilica at St. Peter's -- although Vatican cameras captured some sleeping children who had been unable to stay awake for the late ceremony.

Those who could not get inside watched on giant television screens outside in the square.

As Benedict was leaving down the main aisle, someone wearing red jumped the barrier. The person was swiftly tackled by security.

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The pope appeared to slow his step momentarily and take a slight step back as the action took place, but he quickly resumed the processional, waving to the audience. Video Watch as security steps in »

Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi told CNN she did not appear to pose any risk.

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