Pope asks Catholics to spread message of 'mercy', encourages pea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pope asks Catholics to spread message of 'mercy', encourages peace for Syria, Libya

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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has issued a Christmas Day indulgence for Catholics around the globe in hopes they spread the church's message of mercy in a world torn by "murderous evil," war and poverty.

Speaking Friday from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Francis said he hoped the indulgence would encourage the faithful in his Holy Year of Mercy "to welcome God's mercy in our lives, and be merciful with our brothers to make peace grow."

An indulgence is an ancient church tradition related to the forgiveness of sins.

Francis announced the indulgence after delivering his annual "Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world)" speech listing global hotspots and his prayers for an end to human suffering.

He also prayed that recent U.N.-backed peace agreements for Syria and Libya will quickly end the suffering of their people while praising the generosity of those countries that have taken in their refugees.

Francis issued a Christmas Day peace appeal Friday for a world torn by war, poverty and extremist attacks. The sun-soaked St. Peter's Square was under heavy security, as it has been since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

Francis referred to the "brutal acts of terrorism" that struck the French capital this year as well as conflicts in Africa, the Mideast and Ukraine.

He said "only God's mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press and WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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