Iraqi Christians celebrated a somber Christmas in a Baghdad cathedral stained with dried blood, while Pope Benedict XVI exhorted Chinese Catholics to stay loyal despite restrictions on them in a holiday address laced with worry for the world’s Christian minorities.

Saturday’s grim news seemed to highlight the pope’s concern for his flock’s welfare.

In northern Nigeria, attacks on two churches by Muslim sect members claimed six lives, while bombings in central Nigeria, a region plagued by Christian-Muslim violence, killed 32 people, officials said.

Eleven people including a priest were injured by a bombing during Christmas Mass in a police chapel in the Philippines, which has the largest Catholic population in Asia. The attack took place on Jolo island, a stronghold of al-Qaida linked militants.

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