Pope sends Britain Christmas greetings

The Pope has unusually directed a Christmas message directly to the British people.

In it, he spoke of his visit to the UK in the autumn, which was the focus of angry demonstrations over the Catholic Church's policies. Pope Benedict said he recalled the visit with "great fondness".

He also told listeners that the story of Christ had demonstrated liberation without the need for political upheaval.

Secular campaigners have questioned the BBC's decision to push for the message to be broadcast on the Today programme this morning.

Pope Benedict remains a controversial figure despite his visit, due to his stance on abortion, homosexuality and his handling of the child abuse scandal.

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