Pope Francis warns of new ‘tension’ if U.S. embassy is moved to Jerusalem

A woman prays on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sept. 11. The city is considered sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill) A woman prays on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sept. 11. The city is considered sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

Pope Francis today made an appeal for world actors to respect of the status quo of Jerusalem, in accordance with the relevant U.N. resolutions, and to let “wisdom and prudence prevail” so as “to avoid adding new elements of tension” in the Middle East and “in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”

His appeal is clearly addressed to President Donald J. Trump, who will reportedly declare today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City in a reversal of almost seven decades of U.S. foreign policy. The pope is effectively telling the president, without naming him, not to proceed down this road, warning that it can lead to even more conflict in the Holy Land and the Middle East. His message appears to be: Stop before it is too late.

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The pope's message appears to be: Stop before it is too late.

Francis issued his appeal at the end of his Wednesday public audience in the Vatican yesterday. He told thousands of pilgrims from all continents of his “deep concern” at the proposed change in the U.S. policy toward Jerusalem which is considered sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. While West Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. According to the BBC, the United States would be the first nation to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the nation was founded in 1948.

The pope said, “I cannot 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.”

He added, “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace…. I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”

The news that the Mr. Trump intends to move the U.S. embassy, a process that could take several years, has brought strong protests not only from Palestinians but also from the Arab world and the European Union, who warn that the decision is likely to scuttle the peace process in the Middle East. The Holy See has long been against any change in the status of Jerusalem.

Earlier in the morning, in a meeting scheduled before President Trump’s intention was made known, Francis greeted a group of Palestinian religious and intellectual leaders, and renewed his call for a dialogue in the Holy Land that respects the rights of everyone living there. He expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people.

The pope’s full statement on Jerusalem was as follows::

My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, I wish to make 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. Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace. I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.

J Cosgrove
1 week 3 days ago

The Democrats in the Senate unanimously approved this last summer. So did the Republicans. Trump is just doing what they want.

Beth Cioffoletti
1 week 2 days ago

Then they are all corrupt. At least the previous presidents had the sense to hold to the status quo. Trump's decision is nothing but a move to advance his political position among evangelicals and a his Jewish donors. Trump has shown, again and again, that his depth of understanding is no deeper than the what the TV pundits have to say.
Jerusalem is sacred to 3 religions. That this city could be claimed by a military victory is scandalous to the faiths of Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Christopher Lochner
1 week 2 days ago

If Mr Trump's depth of understanding was at the level of pundits then we would be in better shape. ;) Seriously, does Mr. Trump think any issue through and do ANY of our current politicians thus do so?? This is why people are so angry. There are real issues in the world and all we get is mindless posturing. Disgusting! It's like the old saying about throwing gasoline on a fire...

Beth Cioffoletti
1 week 2 days ago

Thank you Pope Francis.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 week 2 days ago

Every Pope since Pius12,has stated that Jerusalem should be an International City effectively under UN control. Mind you up until the 1947'plan of the UN action creating Israel, the Vatican itself claimed ownership /protectorate of certain of the holy sites!
Now frankly is there anyone who believes that either the Palestinians or the Israeliis are going to accept a Jerusalem controlled by the UN?

The "status quo" in Jerusalem that the Pope urges be maintained is an armed stalemate for over 50 years......with episodic outbreaks of violence. What the Pope does not say is what he believes should be the proper resolution of this matter.

Beth Cioffoletti
1 week 2 days ago

An "armed stalemate"? Pope Francis says exactly what he believes should be the proper resolution of this matter. That Jerusalem be maintained as as place of peace that is preserved and strengthened for the whole world. That is not an "armed stalemate" but an active and living resolution.

Robert Lewis
4 days 1 hour ago

Mr. Meisenzahl never speaks about moral standards or spiritual values, let alone religious principles. All he understands is "real politik," and he believes that it is always the deciding factor in human dilemmas. He'd have a hard time coming to terms with the impact of ideas and religious faith on world-historical events.

lukenlow lukenlow
3 days 5 hours ago

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