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Pope Francis offers Christmas blessings to children ‘wherever peace and security are threatened’

Pope Francis made a Christmas Day appeal for peace, “as the winds of war are blowing in our world.”

Speaking to an estimated crowd of 50,000 from a balcony above the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, he called for a two-state solution in the Middle East, and an end to conflicts on the Korean Peninsula, in Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, South Sudan and elsewhere. The pope’s annual “Urbi et Orbi” address (which translates as “to the city and to the world”) was an occasion to highlight long-forgotten misery and hardship, and to encourage good will, greater mutual trust and action from the international community.

The pontiff said the Christmas holiday offers people the opportunity to recognize Jesus in the faces of suffering and disadvantaged children around the world.

He expressed hope of a secure and peaceful future for children of unemployed parents, victims of human trafficking, child laborers and child soldiers, and young refugees who have been “forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy,” referencing the violence in Myanmar that has caused members of the Rohingya Muslim religious minority to flee for Bangladesh. The pope recently visited Myanmar and Bangladesh, where he met with refugees.

At the end of his prayer, Pope Francis asked his Catholic followers to commit themselves “to making our world more human and more worthy for the children of today and of the future.”

Watch the pope’s remarks below.

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