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Pope Francis’ Christmas Message Condemns ISIS’ ‘Brutal Persecution’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis condemned the "brutal persecution" of minorities by ISIS in his Christmas message Thursday and urged people not to be indifferent to the suffering of so many around the world. Tens of thousands of people turned out on St. Peter's Square to hear the Argentine pope deliver his blessing and message, marking the second Christmas since his election last year.

Pope Francis, 78, also appealed for an end to conflicts in African countries, urged dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, condemned the attack by Taliban militants that killed more than 130 students in Pakistan last week, and thanked those helping Ebola victims. But he reserved his toughest words to defend the victims of ISIS.

"I ask him, the savior of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution," he said from the same balcony of St. Peter's Basilica where he first appeared as pontiff on the night of his March 2013 election. "May Christmas bring them hope."

Pope Calls for Global Tenderness During Christmas Message 1:15

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— Reuters