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Thousands Gather in Vatican to Celebrate Christmas


Pope Benedict addressed pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square this Sunday and said that the celebration of Holy Christmas is now imminent. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

A long applause broke out in Saint Peter's Square Sunday when Pope Benedict appeared at his study window. He told those gathered that today's vigil prepares us to live intensely the mystery that this night will help us contemplate with the eyes of faith.

Pope Benedict said the Christmas of Christ helps people understand the importance of the life of every human being, from first instance to natural death.

The pope also urged the faithful to be committed to overcome prejudice, knock down barriers and eliminate divisions to build together a world of justice and peace. The pope then greeted the faithful in various languages.

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and also, this year, Christmas Eve. The Liturgy of today's celebration invites all believers to welcome joyfully the promised Messiah who comes to us through the Virgin Mary.

Thousands of Romans and tourists are expected to turn out tonight at the Vatican for Pope Benedict's second midnight mass. Millions more will be watching the service on television around the world.

The mass in Saint Peter's Basilica will celebrate the birth of Jesus. The pope will then address the faithful again on Christmas Day and deliver his Urbi et Orbi message and blessing.