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On Christmas, Pope Prays for Vaccines for the Poor

Pope Francis blesses the faithful from the balcony during his Christmas blessing in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican on Dec. 25.

Pope Francis blesses the faithful from the balcony during his Christmas blessing in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican on Dec. 25.

Photographer: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Rome (AP) -- Pope Francis prayed Saturday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts.

Amid a record-setting rise in COVID-19 cases in Italy this week, only a few thousand people flocked to a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ annual “Urbi et Orbi” ("To the city and the world") Christmas address. Normally, the square would be packed with tens of thousands of holiday well-wishers.