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Pope prays for South Sudan, Syria on first Christmas

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for humanitarian aid access in Syria and "social harmony" in South Sudan on his first Christmas in the Vatican after months of shaking up the papacy with his humble style and common touch. Francis also pleaded for divine aid to rescue child soldiers "robbed of their childhood" and for peace in the conflict-torn Central African Republic which he said was "often forgotten and overlooked".

Vatican unveils Nativity scene on pope's first Christmas

Pope Francis on Tuesday prepared to celebrate his first Christmas as pontiff with a mass in St Peter's Basilica as a giant traditional Nativity scene named in his honour was unveiled on St Peter's Square. The Nativity scene made by Naples artisan Antonio Cantone this year is entitled "Francis 1223 -- Francis 2013" -- a reference to St Francis of Assisi, who inspired the pope's choice of name when he was elected. The saint is commonly credited with being behind the first representation of the Nativity, staged with live actors as is still done in many parts of the world.

Angels have no wings, says Catholic 'angelologist'

Angels exist, but don't have wings and are more like shards of light, at least according to a top Catholic Church "angelologist" who says the heavenly beings are now back in vogue thanks to New Age religions. "There is a re-discovery of angels in Christianity," Father Renzo Lavatori told AFP on the sidelines of a conference on angels in a lavishly-frescoed Renaissance palace in Rome.
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