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Pope Says Christmas 'Hostage' Of Materialism, 'Needs To Be Freed'

Pope Francis waves from the balcony of St Peter's basilica during the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas message in 2015.

Pope Francis said during his Christmas Eve homily that Christmas has been “taken hostage” by materialism that puts God in the shadows and blinds many people to the needs of the hunger, migrants, and the war weary.

Speaking at late on December 24 at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic Christians said the world is often obsessed with gifts, feasting, and self-centeredness and needs more humility.

In unscripted remarks, Pope Francis said: “This worldliness has taken Christmas hostage. It needs to be freed."

The service was attended by 10,000 worshipers inside while thousands more who could not get inside St. Peter’s Basilica stood outside on St. Peter’s Square and watched on large television screens.

On Christmas Day, December 25, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly Urbi et Orbi -- To The City And To The World -- blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP