Pope delivers Christmas greetings -- in one language

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Associated Press

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 25 at 2:33 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — It's been a tradition for popes to deliver their Christmas greetings in dozens of languages to the crowd standing below the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

But today, in his first Christmas message, Pope Francis stuck to Italian.

He also kept to the simple style he has set for his papacy. Francis wore a plain white cassock as he spoke to more than 70,000 cheering tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square.

He offered wishes for a better world, praying for protection for Christians under attack, battered women and trafficked children. The pontiff also prayed for peace in the Middle East and Africa, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict around the world.

In his Christmas speech, Francis explained his concept of peace -- saying it's "not a balancing of opposing forces," or something that "conceals conflicts and divisions." Instead, he said, "Peace calls for daily commitment."

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116-a-11-(Pope Francis, speaking through an interpreter, from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica)-"conflicts and divisions"-Pope Francis, speaking through an interpreter, said true peace requires a daily commitment on a very personal level. (25 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *116 (12/25/13)££ 00:11 "conflicts and divisions"

119-r-20-(Pope Francis, speaking in Italian, in his Christmas Day speech from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica)--Sound of Pope Francis, in Italian, delivering his Christmas Day speech from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to some to 70,000 people in St. Peter's Square below. In the speech he said he hopes for a better world, including successful Middle East negotiations in the land of Jesus' birth, peace for Syria and several war-torn African countries, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict. (25 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *119 (12/25/13)££ 00:20

117-a-15-(Pope Francis, speaking through an interpreter, from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica)-"people further suffering"-Pope Francis, speaking through an interpreter, remembered the victims of the conflict in Syria. (25 Dec 2013)

<<CUT *117 (12/25/13)££ 00:15 "people further suffering"

GRAPHICSBANK: Pope Francis holds a statue of baby Jesus as he celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, graphic element on gray (25 Dec 2013)

APPHOTO GB124: Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Pope Francis on Christmas day is wishing for a better world, with peace for the land of Jesus' birth, for Syria and Africa as well as for the dignity of migrants and refugees fleeing misery and conflict. Francis spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica Wednesday to tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below. He said he was joining in the song of Christmas angels with all those hoping "for a better world," and with those who "care for others, humbly." (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (25 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO GB124 (12/25/13)££

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