The Daily Telegraph reports:
It will be the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience, and the first time that a serving Pontiff has delivered Thought for the Day.
The broadcast was recorded today in Rome. While the BBC has not released details of what the Pope will say, it is understood that his broadcast will chime with the traditional message of Christmas [really? What a surprise!].
It will go out at 7.45am on Christmas Eve, and will last for three minutes.
Gwyneth Williams, the controller of Radio 4, said: “I’m delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It’s significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar.”
The BBC had initially hoped that His Holiness would broadcast in the slot during his UK visit.
In case you are in the wrong part of the world or doing something else at the time it goes out, Thought for the Day podcasts can be downloaded here.
Here's the BBC's announcement:
Pope Benedict XVI, will deliver his Thought For The Day on Radio 4, Friday 24th December at 7.45am.Expect howls of protests from secularists!
Pope Benedict's Christmas message to the British people follows his UK visit in September. In an unprecedented move - the Pope has not presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience before - Pope Benedict recorded Thought For The Day in Rome on Wednesday 22nd December.
Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 said: "I'm delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It's significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar."
Thought for the Day is broadcast within the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 at 7.45am Monday - Saturday. It offers approximately three minutes of personal reflection from faith leaders and believers from a range of religious denominations. Those contributing to the programme have included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Indarjit Singh and Mona Siddiqui.
Thought for the Day was first broadcast in 1970, succeeding earlier religious thought strands Ten to Eight (1965-1970) and Lift Up Your Hearts on the BBC Home Service (1939-1965).
Update: see Damian Thompson: Christmas hilarity as National Secular Society goes nuts over Pope's Thought For The Day.