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Watch: Archbishop speaks about violence and division at Christmas mass in Bethlehem

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Clergymen attend Christmas celebrations at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 24, 2019.
Clergymen attend Christmas celebrations at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 24, 2019.   -  
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Ammar Awad
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Christians from across the world and the Middle East gathered in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank to celebrate midnight mass.

The ceremony was held in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe that Jesus was born, and dating from the fourth century AD.

It began with a procession by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, mirroring that made by Jesus's mother, Mary, according to the Bible.

Pizzaballa spoke in his homily about violence and divisions in the modern-day "Holy Land".

"Celebrating Christmas also means celebrating those who still have a desire to love mankind and put themselves on the line for it. Here in the Holy Land, and not only today but every day of the year, there are still many people who celebrate the Christmas of Jesus in this way, not only Christians. And to them go our most since thanks and encouragement to continue being the hope for all of us," he said.

Despite being separated from Jerusalem by a heavily-fortified so-called security wall, Bethlehem attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, especially during Christmas.

In attendance at the ceremony was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and representatives of the many Christian denominations that have a presence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

_You can watch the full ceremony in the player above. _

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