Pope: Christmas will be tough this year

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Pope Benedict XVI delivers a speech as he arrives at the "Santa Maria delle Grazie" parish church to celebrate a mass, in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI says he knows Christmas this year will be difficult, in an acknowledgement of the economic crisis gripping much of the West. But he is urging the faithful to remember there's more to the holiday than gift-buying.

Benedict spoke Sunday while visiting a parish in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome. Italians are facing new and higher taxes as the country struggles with a government debt crisis.

The pope told parishioners he knows that Christimas will be "very difficult," but that he wanted to wish all a happy holiday. Benedict said that preparing for Christmas "doesn't only mean buying" gifts. Later, greeting pilgrims in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, he said real joy is linked to something deeper.