Pope Francis, Moroccan King Launch Joint Appeal for Jerusalem

Pope Francis sits by King Mohamed VI, at the Mohammed VI Institute, a school of learning for imams, in Rabat, Morocco, Saturday, March 30, 2019. Francis's weekend trip to Morocco aims to highlight the North African nation's tradition of Christian-Muslim ties while also letting him show solidarity with migrants at …
Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP Photo

Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI launched a joint appeal Saturday, urging the protection of the status quo of Jerusalem as the common patrimony of “the followers of the three monotheistic religions.”

The appeal was released in the midst of the pope’s two-day visit to Morocco and asserts the two leaders’ concern for “the unique and sacred character of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif” as well as “its spiritual significance and its special vocation as a city of peace.”

“We consider it important to preserve the Holy City of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif as the common patrimony of humanity,” the appeal states, “and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions, as a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue can be cultivated.”

In late 2017, Pope Francis issued a similar appeal calling for respect for the “status quo” in Jerusalem following the news that the United States would transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

“My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem,” the pope said. “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.

“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 added.

Last November, the pope met with the president of Israel in the Vatican to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations as well as the “Jerusalem question.”

According to a Vatican press release, the two leaders discussed the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians “so as to reach an accord respecting the legitimate aspirations of both peoples” as well as “the Jerusalem question,” in its religious and human dimension for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

The Jerusalem question entails “the importance of safeguarding its identity and vocation as City of Peace,” the communiqué stated.

In their joint appeal Saturday, the pope and the Moroccan president called for the protection and promotion of “the specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension and the particular cultural identity of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif.”

“It is our hope, therefore, that in the Holy City, full freedom of access to the followers of the three monotheistic religions and their right to worship will be guaranteed, so that in Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif they may raise their prayers to God, the Creator of all, for a future of peace and fraternity on the earth,” they said.

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