Pope Francis defends Jerusalem 'status quo'

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Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, hours before the expected announcement that the USA is to recognise the city as Israel's capital.

Trump is expected to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and begin preparations to move the U.S. Embassy to the city, three senior administration officials confirmed late Tuesday.

The former Holy See ambassador, who now serves as advisor to the Vatican's office for Integral Human Development, endorsed the appeal made by Pope Francis earlier on Wednesday to maintain the Status Quo of Jerusalem.

The pope told thousands of people at his general audience: "I can not keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days".

"I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts", he said.

"My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem", the Pope said before the large crowd assembled in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for his weekly General Audience.


To conclude, Pope Francis thanked the president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, for his attention to Christian communities and wished peace upon Palestine and the whole Middle East.

The Vatican and the Palestinians plan to create a permanent working group on interfaith issues.

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

"The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be".

The change is a recognition of "reality", officials said, both the historic reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation since ancient times and the modern reality that the city is the seat of Israel's government, housing its legislature, supreme court, prime minister, and executive agencies.

The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" the following year.

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