At Christmas Mass, Pope Francis called on Christmas Eve to welcome persecuted and displaced people with open arms. He called for "charity" and "hospitality".

"Behind the steps of Mary and Joseph are hidden many steps. We see the traces of entire families, who today are forced to leave home," the pontiff said on Christmas Eve at mass in front of thousands of believers in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

"We see the footprints of millions of people who do not volunteer, but are forced to part with their loved ones because they are driven out of their land."

Christmas is the time to "turn the power of fear into a force of love, into a force for a new concept of charity," said the head of the Catholics. One should not be content with injustice, but must have the courage to become "a place of hospitality in the midst of tensions and conflicts".