In Response to Trump’s Move, Pope Francis Calls for Prudence, Respect for Jerusalem's Status Quo | Sojourners

In Response to Trump’s Move, Pope Francis Calls for Prudence, Respect for Jerusalem's Status Quo

Pope Francis shakes hands with Palestinian Minister Of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash during a private meeting at the Vatican December 6, 2017. Osservatore Romano/Handout via REUTERS

On Dec. 6, Pope Francis appealed for Jerusalem's status quo to be respected and for "wisdom and prudence" to prevail over the city, hours before President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to the Vatican Radio

Arab leaders have warned the Trump administration's decision would subvert decades of U.S. foreign policy and risk triggering further conflicts and violence in 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," Pope Francis said to his weekly general audience. "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."

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

Church leaders wrote:

We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.

We ask from you, Mr President, to help us all walk towards more love and a definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all ... Our solemn advice and plea is for the US to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm.

 The letter is signed by 13 major church leaders, including signatories from Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Coptic Orthodox churches. 

Reuters reporting contributed to this piece.