Pope Francis: I Cannot Hide 'My Deep Concern' Over Jerusalem

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(Vatican Radio) Ahead of an expected decision by the U.S President on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as the new Israeli capital, a top Vatican official said the move will add "fuel to the fire" of conflict and instability across the Middle East. "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.

US President Donald Trump will deliver his speech, expecting the US president to "recognize the reality" that Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel and to declare the move to the US diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv and which for decades remained a reason of contention between Israelis and Palestinians.

The position of the United Nations on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine.

The pope experienced first hand the consequences of war and conflict during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories.

Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned the move is a threat to the Middle East peace process.

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The pope said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments concerning Jerusalem, and declared the city a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

Pope Francis made foreign politics the focus of his weekly general audience, pinpointing the highlights of his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh and calling on the worldwide community not to destabilize the current situation in Jerusalem.

Early on Wednesday, Francis met a delegation of Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders who were at the Vatican for a previously scheduled meeting with the Vatican's inter-religious dialogue office.

"They came to the Vatican with the intention of establishing a joint working group".

Most importantly the pope, who has recently been under scrutiny by some for not calling out the Rohingya by name during his trip and by others for not focusing enough on the persecution against Christians, stressed his commitment to fostering peace.

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