Pope urges respect for Jerusalem 'status quo'

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He made the appeal during his weekly Wednesday audience, ahead of the expected U.S. announcement by President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The pope said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments regarding Jerusalem, which he called a "special vocation for peace" and a sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

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".

"My thought now goes to Jerusalem".

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its "united and eternal" capital.

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.

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During his election campaign past year, Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days", the Pope said in his weekly address. Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks.

Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, after speaking with the Palestinian leader and soon after meeting with a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual representatives in a previously scheduled audience.

"They came to the Vatican with the intention of establishing a joint working group". His was the first papal trip to Myanmar, a country that has recently been making headlines all over the world due to what the United Nations has called "textbook ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya Muslim minority there. Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon thereafter.

In this context, Christians there are the "leaven of God", he said, and called the Church in Burma a "living and fervent" community that he had the joy of meeting and affirming in faith and communion.

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