Pope Francis appeals to respect Jerusalem's 'status quo'

Pope urges dialogue amid Jerusalem controversy

"In this regard, I can not ignore my deep concern for the situation that has been created in recent days", the Pope said December 6.

Pope Francis on Wednesday defended the "status quo" of Jerusalem, hours ahead of an announcement by US President Donald Trump in which officials said he will recognise the disputed city as Israel's capital.

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 US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The pontiff added that maintaining the status quo was important "in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts". 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.

Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon after.

He spoke of dialogue between religions "and also in civil society".

The pope recounted the two Masses he celebrated with the local bishop.

"In the faces of those young people, filled with joy, I saw the future of Asia: a future that will not belong to those who build weapons, but to those who plant fraternity", Francis said.

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.

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.

Archbishop Tomasi said the planned move "is certainly not a gesture of openness for dialogue".

Reciting the Angelus prayer December 3, the first Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis told people gathered in St. Peter's Square, "Being watchful and alert are the prerequisites for not continuing 'to wander far from the Lord's path, ' lost in our sins and infidelities; being watchful and alert are the conditions for allowing God to break into our existence, to give it meaning and value with his presence full of goodness and tenderness".

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