Christian Leaders from the Vatican to Bethlehem struck a Sombre note on Christmas Eve speaking of war, fear and division.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis urged the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to feel compassion for children, notably victims of war, migration and homelessness in his Christmas Eve Mass.

Pope Francis said Christmas has been taken hostage by dazzling materialism that puts god in the shadows and blinds many to the needs of the hungry, the migrants and the war weary.

Addressing a 10,000-strong crowd in St. Peter’s Square, the Pontiff urged Worshippers to think of the children “hiding underground to escape bombardment”, in apparent reference to Syria.

On Christmas Day, Pope Francis will deliver his twice-yearly blessing and message from the central Balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, some 2,500 Worshippers packed the church of the nativity complex, where Christians believe Jesus was born.