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Pope Francis pleads for peace in Christmas Day message

"It is time for weapons to be stilled forever," the pontiff declared.

By Karen Butler
Pope Francis pleads for peace in Christmas Day message
Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" message to the world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on December 25. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Pope Francis emphasized the need for world peace -- specifically in war-torn Syria -- during his Christmas Day address Sunday.

The BBC said the head of the Roman Catholic church delivered his message in front of tens of thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter's Square. There was an intense security presence after the man suspected to have perpetrated last week's deadly terror attack in Berlin was shot dead in the Italian city of Milan, the British broadcaster noted.

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The Guardian newspaper quoted the pontiff as saying he wants his words regarding the end of violence to be carried "to the ends of the Earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace."

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"Far too much blood has been spilled," he went on. "Above all, in the city of Aleppo, site of the most awful battles in recent weeks, it is most urgent that assistance and support be guaranteed to the exhausted, civil populace, with respect for humanitarian law. It is time for weapons to be stilled forever, and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution so that civil co-existence can be restored in the country."

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The pope also urged Israelis and Palestinians to "have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony."

The BBC reported he denounced global terrorism, which he said "had sown fear and death into the hearts of so many countries and cities."

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