Pope Francis contradicts Donald Trump over U.S. embassy move

Pacific Press  LightRocket via Getty Images

Pacific Press LightRocket via Getty Images

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Vatican envoy to the U.N.in Geneva, said any move away from the Status Quo in Jerusalem "could have unforeseen consequences".

There is enormous tension in the Middle east with United States President Donald Trump set recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech.

The pope said, "I can not remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations".

In his general audience, Pope Francis noted how Jerusalem is a "unique city" that is considered holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The position of the United Nations on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine.

Francis spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after US President Donald Trump reportedly told Abbas of his decision to recognize the holy city as Israel's capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city's status is marked as a final status issue to be decided in negotiations over a final peace agreement.

Palestinians, Arab and Muslim countries warn that a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would "unleash widespread public anger" and deal a death knee to the peace process.

When Francis visited the Holy Land in 2014, he flew directly by helicopter from Jordan to what the Vatican program called the "State of Palestine" and visited Israel last.

At the same time, the Vatican consistently has called for a special status for Jerusalem, particularly its Old City, in order to protect and guarantee access to the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Dialogue, the pope said, takes place at every level, especially "in our families, in our religious communities, between different religious communities, and also in civil society".

"I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts", he said.

The Pope made comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

"I wished, also in this case, to express Christ's and the Church's closeness to a people that have suffered due to conflicts and repressions and are now slowly moving toward a new condition of freedom and peace", Francis said.

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