Pope in call to China's Catholics

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Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful as he arrives to celebrate Christmas Mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP)

Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas Day message called on Catholics in China to courageously face limits on religious freedom and conscience.

Benedict used his traditional holiday speech, delivered from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, to encourage people living in the world’s troublespots to take strength from the comfort of Christmas.

Tensions have flared anew between the Vatican and Beijing over China’s defiance of the Pope’s authority to name bishops.

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