Pope urges respect for Jerusalem status quo

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Pope Francis, speaking hours before U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, called on Wednesday for the city's "status quo" to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.

His appeal for Jerusalem comes shortly after news came out that U.S. President Donald Trump would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the worldwide community.

Describing the city as "holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the holy sites of their respective religions", the Pope said Jerusalem enjoys a unique status that should be preserved.

"At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions", the pope said, in his weekly address.

My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state. "In this regard, I can not ignore my deep concern for the situation that has been created in recent days", the Pope said December 6.

In Bangladesh, a majority Muslim country, the pope's trip was aimed at fostering dialogue between Islam and Catholicism, following in the footsteps of the previous papal visits by Pope Paul VI and Saint John Paul II.

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Pope Francis has set himself on a new collision course with Donald Trump over the President's plans to move the US Israeli embassy.

Pope Francis has appealed to respect the "status quo" of Jerusalem in accordance "with the relevant United Nations resolutions".

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 Holy See has always been against any change in the status of Jerusalem.

The pope, who spoke to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the crises on Tuesday, made his comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in the interfaith dialogue with the Vatican. He also voiced his hope that "peace and prosperity" would prevail for the Palestinian people.

He noted how his November 27-30 visit to Burma marked the first time a Pope has ever traveled to the country, which took place just months after the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the nation in May.

"In Dhaka we experienced a moment of strong interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to underline the openness of the heart as the base for the culture of encounter, for harmony and for peace", he said.

The pope highlighted the value of dialogue and its importance for the Catholic Church, especially in the birthplace of Christianity.

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