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Pope Francis' Christmas Eve Message: 'Do not be afraid'

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According to CNN on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Pope Francis officiated at his first Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

His message was one of love and forgiveness.

The 77-year-old pontiff began his message this way:

"On this night, let us share the joy of the Gospel. God loves us. He so loves us that he gave us his son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats, 'Do not be afraid,' ... And I, too, repeat, do not be afraid."

Pope Francis called on the thousands of people gathered at St. Peter's Basilica to cast aside hatred.

There was a record number of requests to attend this year's Christmas Eve Mass. Pilgrims had gathered to celebrate with Pope Francis as he delivered his first Christmas Eve message.

Only nine months into his papacy, many Catholics and the rest of the world have noticed that Pope Francis has not been leading as other popes have done. For instance, he himself placed the statue of the baby Jesus in a replica of a manger. Usually someone else does this. Pope Francis was demonstrating his humility.

Pope Francis began his activities last Saturday when he gave the Christmas message to the Curia where he urged the church's governing body to avoid gossip and to focus on service.

Pope Francis spent three hours at a local hospital bringing Christmas cheer to sick children.

On Christmas Day, tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to be in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis' first Christmas message to the world.

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