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Pope delivers Christmas Day 'Urbi et Orbi' message

At the Vatican, Pope Francis has delivered his traditional Christmas message. Security was tight as thousands gathered to listen. The pontiff addressed issues of conflict and terrorism.

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Christmas services in Vatican, Bethlehem

Pope Francis took to the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica on Sunday to deliver his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) speech.

The pope addressed a number of international conflicts in his speech.

Referring to the ongoing civil war in Syria, he said "far too much blood has been spilled" and pleaded for "the weapons to be still forever."

Days after a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction in occupied territory, the pope called on Israelis and Palestinians to "write a new page of history."

As Berlin recovers from last week's terror attack that saw 12 people die when a man drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market, the pope said "peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of brutal acts of terrorism, which have sown fear and death into the hearts of so many countries and cities."

Francis called for an end to "fundamentalist terrorism" in Nigeria, referring to the Boko Haram organization, and political harmony in Venezuela and Colombia.

He also addressed the economic gap between the richest and the poorest people in the world, offering peace to those "who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few, because of the sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery."

An estimated 40,000 people were gathered in St. Peter's Square below the pontiff as he delivered the speech. Security was heightened just days after the suspect in the Berlin terror attack, Anis Amri, was killed in a shootout police outside of Milan.

mz/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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