Pope Benedict XVI has denounced the bombing of a Nigerian Catholic church that killed almost 40 people on Christmas Day, saying only respect and reconciliation can bring peace.
Speaking in a post-Christmas blessing, Benedict said he had learned with "profound sadness" of the "absurd" attack on the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, which was claimed by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.
It was the second year in a row that the group has staged Christmas attacks.
In the United States, the White House has condemned the "senseless" attack" and pledged to assist Nigerian authorities in bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice.
Britain has described the violence as "cowardly attacks on families gathered in peace and prayer to celebrate a day which symbolizes harmony and goodwill towards others."
compiled from agency reports