Current Issue
March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
29 December 2017
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Israeli forces fire toward Palestinians near Ramallah, West Bank, during a 20 December protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
(photo: CNS/Mussa Qawasma, Reuters)

Pope Francis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on 29 December about the status of Jerusalem.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the telephone conversation took place and said the call was Erdogan’s initiative.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that Erdogan and Pope Francis both expressed satisfaction with the U.N. resolution on 21 December calling on the United States to rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution passed 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Dec. 6 that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordering the State Department to begin preparations for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Hours before Trump made the announcement, Pope Francis publicly appealed for respect for the “status quo” of Jerusalem and prayed that “wisdom and prudence would prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”

The Vatican supports a “two-state solution” for the Holy Land with independence, recognition and secure borders for both Israel and Palestine. While insisting access must be guaranteed to the holy sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Jerusalem, the Vatican, like most nations around the world, believes political control of the city should be settled in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Before giving his Christmas blessing on 25 December, Pope Francis again prayed “for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land.”

He asked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square to join him in praying that “the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”

“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by goodwill to help that afflicted land find — despite grave obstacles — the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited,” the pope continued.