Pope Francis: I Cannot Hide ‘My Deep Concern’ Over Jerusalem

In a special appeal Wednesday, Pope Francis called for respect for the “status quo” in Jerusalem, in the wake of news that the United States will transfer its embassy in Israel to the Holy City.

“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. “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the last days.”

“At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions,” he said.

The Pope’s words came ahead of an expected announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city by establishing the American embassy to Israel there.

As Breitbart News reported on Tuesday, Arab, Muslim and European Union leaders have voiced their opposition to the move, suggesting it could create turmoil in the area.

“Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the Holy Sites of their respective religions there, and it has a special vocation to peace,” the Pope continued in his address Wednesday.

“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.”

Prior to his General Audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders in the Vatican, in which he called for a dialogue marked by “reciprocal respect” for the rights of everyone in the Holy Land while expressing his hope for “peace and prosperity” for the Palestinian people.

The Vatican reported that the meeting had been scheduled for some time, independent of the recent news.

President Trump will reportedly announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

According to a senior administration official, Trump will first announce that the “United States government recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”

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.

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