(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.
"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.
President Trump will reportedly announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. 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 experienced first hand the consequences of war and conflict during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh.
"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.More news: Texas Officer Killed Serving Warrant Identified
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Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall during his weekly general audience, during which he recounted the phases of his recent November 27-Dec. Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present global status of Jerusalem.
Debate on the issue is in many ways the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia, and the wider Islamic world.
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.
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".
In his comments to the group, Francis expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people and called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land.