Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders on his Christmas Day message to find the wisdom and courage to end bloody conflicts in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Congo.
Benedict lamented the "grim sound of arms" in the world's conflict zones from Sudan to Sri Lanka and especially the volatile Middle East.
"On this day of peace, my thoughts turn especially to those places where the grim sound of arms continues to reverberate," he said, emphasizing "the whole of the Middle East -- especially Iraq, Lebanon and the Holy Land."
The pope spoke as two suicide bombings killed 29 people in Iraq on Tuesday, apparently targeting groups fighting Al-Qaeda militants.
Benedict also singled out Darfur, Somalia, the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and "many other crisis situations that unfortunately are frequently forgotten."
The 80-year-old Pope, speaking from the loggia of St Peter's Basilica, prayed that political leaders would find "the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions."
The pontiff spoke of "those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war ... those who are still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education and employment.
"They are the most vulnerable members of society -- women, children, the elderly -- who are so often the victims of brutal armed conflicts, terrorism and violence of every kind, which inflict such terrible sufferings on entire populations," he said.