Both supporters and critics have been voicing their thoughts about the Trump administration's plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move an American Embassy there. Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, recently added himself to the list of those who are hesitant.
During his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis claimed that he can "no longer remain silent" about his "deep concern" about Trump's plan.
“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” Francis said.
“Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace,” he added.
Pope Francis then added, “I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”
The New York Times writes that Trump's announcement represents a shift in American foreign policy, breaking with American foreign policy tradition that has been set in place since 1948 when Israel was founded. Moreover, the NYT writes that the announcement will create difficulties in the current effort between Israel and Palestine to create a two-state solution.
According to the NYT, "The change in policy would, they say, remove any pretense of the United States as a neutral broker for peace, and Palestinians and other Arabs in the region would view the Trump administration as an extension of Israel’s right-wing government."
According to CNN, many Christians leaders in the Orthodox Christian communities within Jerusalem have also expressed concern, formally asking President Trump to "recognize the present international status of Jerusalem." This approach, they say, would "help us all walk towards more love and definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all."
In this regard, Pope Francis and several other Christian leaders hope that Trump will honor the United Nations resolutions on the city, which is sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Vatican currently backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.
“The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind,” he said, according to the New York Post. He spoke of dialogue between religions “and also in civil society."
The Vatican and Israel established complete and full diplomatic relations in 1994. Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict, and Pope John Paul II all visited both Israeli and Palestinian territories. When Francis visited the region in 2014, he flew directly by helicopter from Jordan to what the Vatican program called the "State of Palestine." He then visited Israel last. The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" that following year.
Before making these public comments, Pope Francis met privately with a group of Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state. At the same time, Israel has declared the whole city to be its "united and eternal" capital.
Many are supportive of Trump's effort. Breitbart News, for instance, published an article suggesting that Trump's plan has biblical significance. They claim that it is "symbolic" and "extremely important." Many supporters believe that Trump's plan helps guarantee Israeli sovereignty in at least part of Jerusalem. As a result, they welcome the speech and are applauding President Trump for his outspoken position on this issue.
Faith, Family, America will have a live stream of Trump's speech this afternoon, where he is expected to announce his support of making Jerusalem the recognized capital of Israel. You can watch the live stream here. Also, come back to Faith, Family, America for updates on this breaking story.