Pope’s Christmas address focuses on Pakistani school attack victims

VATICAN (TIP): A sombre Pope Francis steeped his Christmas message to the world in sadness for those with little cause for joy — abused children, refugees, hostages and others suffering from violence in the Middle East, Africa, Ukraine and elsewhere.

Anguish for children who suffer maltreatment or violence, including in the recent attack on a Pakistani military school, tempered the pontiff’s traditional Christmas Day speech, which he delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“Truly there are so many tears this Christmas,” said Francis, looking solemn and smiling little, in contrast to his often jocular demeanour when addressing crowds.

Francis decried the persecution of ancient Christian communities in Iraq and Syria, at the hands of ISIS militants, along with those from other ethnic and religious groups.

“May Christmas bring them hope,” he said.

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