The Argentine pontiff's brief homily was replete with Gospel references in his Christmas Eve mass, broadcast live in 3D for the first time.
"Do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us?" the pope asked in Saint Peter's Basilica, filled with some 5,000 worshipers.
"Or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!" he said.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics also called on "the arrogant, the proud and those closed off to others to meet life with goodness, with meekness."
Ahead of the celebrations, the pontiff voiced concern about the growing persecution of Christians, some of whom he said had been 'brutally driven out' of areas where they have lived since New Testament times.
Francis delivered a Christmas message via telephone to refugees displaced to Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.
"Dear brothers, I am close to you, very close to you in my heart. The children and the elderly are in my heart," Francis also told the Iraqi refugees in the Ankawa camp.

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