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Respect "status quo" of Jerusalem, says Pope in response to Trump move

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Pope Francis waves during his Angelus in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 3. Advent is a time to be watchful and alert to the ways one strays from God's path but also to signs of his presence in other people and in the beauty of the world

Hours before US President Donald Trump delivers a long-awaited keynote that, according to a number of analysts, will put a point on Washington's almost 70-year-old political line for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Roman Catholic Church leader said he supported the status quo in Jerusalem, AFP reports.

Francis spoke by telephone Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after President Donald Trump told Abbas of his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pope Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments, and declared Jerusalem a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

"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.

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".

My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem.

According to a senior administration official, Trump will first announce that the "United States government recognizes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel".

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"I can not silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days", the Pope said in his weekly address.

Pope Francis has set himself on a new collision course with Donald Trump over the President's plans to move the US Israeli embassy.

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 Holy See has always been against any change in the status of Jerusalem.

Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land.

The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994. He also voiced his hope that "peace and prosperity" would prevail for the Palestinian people. His was the first papal trip to Myanmar, a country that has recently been making headlines all over the world due to what the United Nations has called "textbook ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya Muslim minority there.

"In Dhaka we experienced a moment of strong interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, which gave me the opportunity to underline the openness of the heart as the base for the culture of encounter, for harmony and for peace", he said.

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