Pope calls for 'status quo' of Jerusalem to be respected

Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments concerning Jerusalem, and declared the city a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

President Trump is expected to announce today that the United States recognises the city as the Israeli capital, and that the USA will relocate its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

On Dec. 6, Pope Francis appealed for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail over the city, hours before President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the Vatican Radio.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said it would mark the end of years of peace efforts and have "dangerous consequences" for the "security and stability of the region and of the world".

One US official said: "US policy is going to be honest about a reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel".

Within minutes of Mr. Trump's speech, in which he said the American Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Mr. Guterres delivered what amounted to a diplomatic rebuke.


Schulz said Trump's decision risked setting back the peace process in the Middle East.

The Argentinian pontiff's call came a day after he spoke by phone with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the Vatican said without elaborating.

The internationally unsettled status of Jerusalem and its central importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians explains why, while recognizing the state of Israel, no nation has its embassy in the holy city. Pope Francis said the Catholic Church in France had chose to use the phrase "do not let us fall into temptation" as an alternative and indicated that it or something similar should be applied worldwide.

Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, after speaking with the Palestinian leader and soon after meeting with a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual representatives in a previously scheduled audience.

"I pray to the Lord that this identity may be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Middle East and of the entire world", Francis continued, "and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in an already convulsed worldwide panorama marked by so many cruel conflicts".

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