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Pope decries slaughter of 'defenseless' Syrians

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI wished Christmas peace to the world Tuesday, decrying the slaughter of the "defenseless" in Syria, urging Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate and encouraging China's new leaders to allow more religious freedom.

Delivering the Vatican's traditional Christmas day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict also encouraged Arab spring nations, especially Egypt, to build just and respectful societies.

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