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Pope on Jerusalem: Only a special status can preserve its identity

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Calls on international community to deter "newly spiraling tensions."

Pope Francis is insisting that Jerusalem must have an internationally recognized special status in order to preserve the city’s “identity” and “unique vocation of the place of peace the sacred places recall.” He also laments “newly spiraling tensions” in the area.

In a letter released today by the Vatican, dated January 10, addressed to Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyib, grand imam of Al-Azhar, on the occasion of the International Conference in support of Jerusalem concluding today in Egypt, the pope says that though he would be in Chile/Peru for the occasion of the conference he “will not fail to continue to invoke God for the cause of peace, of a true, real peace.”

The pope has been reiterating his call for the status quo to be maintained regarding Jerusalem since Donald Trump announced plans to move the American embassy to the city, thereby giving it US recognition as the de facto capital of Israel.

“In particular, I raise heartfelt prayers that the leaders of the Nations, and civil and religious authorities everywhere commit themselves to deterring newly spiraling tensions and to sustaining every effort to make harmony, justice and security prevail for the populations of that blessed land I so greatly care for,” the pope wrote.

He reiterated the Holy See’s longstanding position on the Middle East conflict, namely the need for “the peaceful coexistence of two states within the borders agreed between them and internationally recognized, with full respect for the special nature of Jerusalem, whose meaning goes beyond any consideration of territorial issues. Only a special status, also internationally guaranteed, can preserve its identity, the unique vocation of the place of peace the sacred places recall, and its universal value, allowing a future of reconciliation and hope for the entire region.”


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