VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) — Pope Francis has wished Christmas peace for people scarred by wars and those who lost loved ones to terrorism that he says is sowing “fear and death” in many cities and countries.

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Sunday, Francis cited those suffering through the Syrian war, especially during the “most awful battles” in Aleppo. He pressed the international community for a negotiated solution. He urged Israelis and Palestinians to abandon hate and revenge.

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He also lamented that in Nigeria “fundamentalist terrorism exploits even children,” a reference to child suicide-bombers.

He decried conflicts and tensions in Africa, eastern Ukraine, Myanmar, the Korean peninsula, Colombia and Venezuela.

Tens of thousands of faithful entering St. Peter’s Square endured long lines for security checks.

The Pope also gave a somber message during midnight mass at the Vatican, urging Catholics to celebrate the birth of Jesus by thinking about the plight of today’s children. Francis spent most of this year appealing to people around the world to better protect the innocent caught in the crossfire of war.

Thousands also gathered in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, to celebrate Christmas. Outside Manger Square, the Christmas festivities brought a boost of holiday cheer as the faithful listened to holiday songs and sang carols.

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