Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to fighting in Syria and the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Jerusalem called Christmas the "birth" of Palestine.
"I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced," Benedict said during his Christmas message, known as the Urbi et Orbi.
Since an anti-government uprising in the country started in March 2011, about 45,000 people have died, the United Nations has estimated.
"May peace spring up for the people of Syria , deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims," the pope said.
Midnight Mass in Vatican City was held two hours early at St. Peter's Square to avoid tiring the 85-year-old pope, the BBC reported.
In Bethlehem, Fouad Twal, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem, said Christmas "is also a celebration of ... the birth of the state of Palestine."
Twal alluded to the U.N. recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent sovereign state, Arutz Sheva reported. In November, the United Nations passed a resolution granting Palestine the status of a non-member observer state, similar to that of the Vatican.
Have your say: Is there any clout to the words of the Pope today in his Christmas appeal? Is anybody listening in Syria - Muslims and Christians alike?