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ROME (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has inaugurated the Christmas season in Rome with his traditional visit to the posh Spanish Steps
neighborhood to pray before a statue of Mary.
Throngs of shoppers, tourists and Romans alike jammed the rain-slicked cobblestones around the piazza to catch a glimpse of
Benedict as he marked the Catholic Church's feast of the Immaculate
Wearing an ermine-trimmed crimson cape, Benedict urged the faithful to reject evil and choose good "even when it's costly and when it requires going against the current."
The pope's Wednesday outing kicked off his busy Christmas season, which includes Christmas Eve Mass, a Christmas Day speech, vespers on New Year's Eve and Masses on Jan. 1 and 6.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)