Pope singles out refugees, hostages in Christmas message

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Pope Highlights World Conflicts in Christmas Address


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis focused his concern on those weeping in the world this Christmas, singling out refugees, hostages and others suffering in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine as he prayed for hope and peace Thursday.

Anguish for children who are victims of violence, including in the recent terrorist attack on a Pakistani military school, tempered the pontiff's traditional Christmas Day message, which he delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Tens of thousands of Romans and tourists crowded into St. Peter's Square to hear Francis deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" message. (Latin for "to the city and to the world.")

"Truly there are so many tears this Christmas," Francis said after noting all the pain and suffering in the world.

The pope lamented that there were vast numbers of children who are "made objects of trade and trafficking" or forced to become soldiers.

26 PHOTOS
The Vatican Pop Christmas
See Gallery
Pope singles out refugees, hostages in Christmas message
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives his traditional Christmas 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 at the Vatican. Pope Francis condemned this year's 'brutal' religious persecution in the Middle East while urging peace in Nigeria, Ukraine and other world troublespots in his annual Christmas 'urbi et orbi' message. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives his traditional Christmas 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 at the Vatican. Pope Francis condemned this year's 'brutal' religious persecution in the Middle East while urging peace in Nigeria, Ukraine and other world troublespots in his annual Christmas 'urbi et orbi' message. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gives his traditional Christmas 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on December 25, 2014 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Swiss Guards ,arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilicaon December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: A nun gather at St. Peter's square attend the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Faithful gather at St. Peter's square for the Christmas Day message 'urbi et orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) held by Pope Francis on December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Carabinieri, Italian special police, arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilicaon December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Swiss Guards ,arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilicaon December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Swiss Guards ,arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilicaon December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 25: Carabinieri, Italian special police, arrive in St. Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Christmas Day message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilicaon December 25, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing (to the city and to the world) is recognised as a Christmas tradition by Catholics with the Pope Francis focusing this year on the peace in the world. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


Francis began his review of the world's troubled places by recalling the persecution of ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria, along with those from other ethnic and religious groups.

"May Christmas bring them hope," he said.

Referring to refugees and exiles, he prayed: "May indifference be changed into the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigors of winter."

The pope also thanked those courageously helping people infected with Ebola in Africa.

He prayed, too, that those in affluent countries, who are "immersed in worldliness and indifference," will experience a softening of heart.

More on AOL.com:
Faithful flock to Bethlehem for Christmas
Ohio man imprisoned for 2 decades is acquitted
Alleged thief chats with UPS driver before stealing packages

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners