Concerned about the welfare of Christian communities around the world, Pope Benedict has expressed his hope for an end to conflicts.
In his traditional Christmas Day message from the Vatican, the Pope urged Christians in China and Iraq to stand up for their faith. He used his message to highlight the plight of Christians he says are being persecuted.
And the Pontiff's speech is likely to strike a stronger chord among Christians after a year of religious flare-ups. Especially giving the series of recent attacks timed to coincide with Christmas.
A bomb wounded several people celebrating Christmas mass in southern Philippines. The perpetrators are unknown but it happened in Jolo Island which is mainly Muslim.
In Nigeria fresh fighting has erupted between Muslims and Christians in Jos. Multiple bombs went off on Christmas eve, killing dozens of people.
And a violent standoff in an Iraqi Catholic church in late October left nearly 70 people dead. Iraq's Christian community has been dwindling for years ... down 60 per cent since the invasion of Iraq.
Is his Christmass address a religious message of support or a political stand?
Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry, discusses with Kamal el-Helbawi, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, Audeh Quawas, a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and Alessio Altichieri, the London correspondent for the Italian daily, Corriere Della Sera.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, December 26, 2010.