The Pope has Called for Respect for the Status quo in Jerusalem

Pope Francis arrives for a weekly general audience at the Paul VI hall after greeting Palestinian delegation- AFP

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.

Trump is expected to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday and begin preparations to move the U.S. Embassy to the city, three senior administration officials confirmed late Tuesday. "At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions", the pope said, in his weekly address.

The pope told thousands of people at his general audience: "I can not keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days".

Describing the city as "holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the holy sites of their respective religions", the Pope said Jerusalem enjoys a unique status that should be preserved. The Argentine pontiff called for "wisdom and prudence to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world panorama that is already unharmonious and marked by many cruel conflicts".

Because of this, he said the city has "a special vocation for peace".

Palestinians and Arab leaders across the region have criticized President Trump's decision, which includes a plan to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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Before making his public comments, Francis met privately with a group of Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

Francis pointed to the meeting with representatives of the various religious communities in the nation as a crucial step toward peace and encouraged further interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Buddhists to fight evil and promote peace.

He said: "The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognising the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be".

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

Jerusalem remains at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - now occupied by Israel - might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" the following year.

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