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STORY: Pope Francis on Thursday denounced discrimination against Christians, including in countries where religious freedom is in theory guaranteed by law.
He delivered his traditional noon prayer and address to thousands of people in a wet and windy St. Peter's Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Stephen, its first martyr.
The 77-year-old Argentine pope asked the crowd for a moment of silent prayer for "Christians who are unjustly accused and are subjected to every type of violence".
Francis, celebrating his first Christmas season as pope, said "restrictions and discrimination" against Christians was taking place not only in countries that do not grant full religious freedom but also where "on paper, freedom and human rights are protected".
"In a civilised world, injustice must be denounced and eliminated," he said. "Mary Queen of Martyrs help us to experience Christmas with ardour of faith and lo