The Pope has prayed for a softening of "stony and self-centred hearts" to help end injustice in the world, in his Christmas Day message.
From the Vatican balcony, Pope Francis spoke of "walls of indifference" being put up to people fleeing hardship in the hope of finding a better life.
The Pope prayed for those hit by conflict, natural disasters and disease, listing several countries.
He singled out parts of Africa where Christians had been killed.
Speaking under a clear blue sky to thousands crowded into St Peter's Square, the Pope urged "comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria".
An attack on Christmas Eve in Burkina Faso left 35 people dead, most of them women.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the country over the past few years, mostly by jihadist groups.
Hours earlier, in a rare joint message with two other Western Church leaders, the Pope appealed for peace in South Sudan.
In their statement, the pontiff, the head of the Anglican Church and the former moderator of the Church of Scotland called for "a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity".
“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
– Karl Popper
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