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Pope Francis prays for Philippines anew

In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013.

MANILA, Philippines - In his first Christmas message to the world, Pope Francis prayed anew for the Philippines that recently received the brunt of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

"Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon," he said.

After the deadly typhoon that struck the country in November, the Roman Pontiff offered words of comfort several times to the victims. He also asked Christians everywhere to unceasingly pray for their wellbeing.

Before giving the traditional Christmas blessing on Wednesday, Francis extended his message not only to the Catholic population but to the world, which he says witnesses the conflict in Syria.

"Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid," Francis said.

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He also prayed for the "forgotten and overlooked" Central African Republic as well as Nigeria and Iraq where the innocent are being attacked and killed.

The Pope also expressed concern over the lasting conflict between Israel and Palestine.

"Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks," Francis pleaded.

Francis is expected to grace a Catholic international congress to be held in 2016 in Cebu City, although the Vatican has not definitely announced the Pope's arrival in the country.

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