Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace and an end to oppression in the world as he delivered his traditional Christmas Eve homily in Rome.
At the Mass at St Peter's Basilica, the pontiff prayed for God to "implant his peace in our hearts" and also to "break the rods of the oppressors".
There was tight security at the event, given that at the same Mass last year a disturbed woman jumped the barriers and lunged at the Pope.
In his homily, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics said: "We are grateful that God gives himself into our hands as a child, begging as it were for our love, implanting his peace in our hearts.
"But this joy is also a prayer: Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping [military] boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end."
He added: "Help us to live together with you as brothers and sisters, so as to become one family, your family."
Earlier on 24 December, in heavy rain, the Pope lit a candle in his window, which overlooks St Peter's Square, to officially open the Vatican's traditional nativity tableau.
On Christmas Day (today, 25 December), Pope Benedict, who has been at the centre of many storms, including the abuse scandals within his Church, will deliver a Christmas message to the city of Rome and to the world.
He will then host a Christmas lunch in the Vatican's audience hall for 350 homeless people.