Pope calls for 'status quo' of Jerusalem to be respected

Humility not about being polite but accepting humiliation pope says

He said: "I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world - and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts".

This comes hours ahead of an announcement by US President Donald Trump in which officials said he would recognise the disputed city as Israel's capital.

In response to Trump's announcement, patriarchs and heads of all churches in Jerusalem urged Trump to reconsider his decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reiterating deep concerns of potentially escalating conflicts in a region sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

"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", Francis said.

Pope Francis met with a Palestinian delegation in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

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

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Vatican envoy to the U.N.in Geneva, said any move away from the Status Quo in Jerusalem "could have unforeseen consequences".

The Vatican backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.

The Pope made comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

Burma, a majority-Buddhist country where minorities, including Christians, often face stigma and discrimination, is still working to transition to a democratic government after more than 50 years of military rule, while also facing harsh criticism from the worldwide community over what the United Nations has called a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine state. Francis emphasized that the Vatican has long supported the Bangladeshi people's desire to be an independent nation and their will to promote religious freedom.

The pope highlighted the value of dialogue and its importance for the Catholic Church, especially in the birthplace of Christianity.

Related news: