The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has said that he fears for Jerusalem and its people following President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a tweet this morning, Cardinal Nichols urged people to “heed again the words of Pope Francis: Jerusalem is a ‘unique city’ that has 'a special vocation for peace’”.
“I fear for Jerusalem and its people today. I pray for its peace,” he continued.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, added his voice to the growing chorus condemning the US president’s 6 December announcement, tweeting:
"The status quo of the City of Jerusalem is one of the few stable elements of hope for peace and reconciliation for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Lands. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
On 6 December Trump announced: "it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” He said he was directing the US state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In an open letter Christian leaders in Jerusalem said recognition of the city as the capital of Israel by the US could have dire regional consequences.
"We have been following, with concern, the reports about the possibility of changing how the United States understands and deals with the status of Jerusalem. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division," the Christian leaders wrote on 6 December.
They appealed to Trump to take their viewpoint into consideration, as did the leaders who met at Camp David in July 2000 to decide the status of Jerusalem. The Christian leaders said their "solemn advice and plea" for the president was to continue recognising the international status of Jerusalem.
"We ask you, Mr President, to help us all walk toward more love and a definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all," they said.
"Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work toward negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfil its destiny."
The Christian leaders, who include Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs as well as the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, said Jerusalem could be "shared and fully enjoyed" once a political process helped "liberate the hearts of all people that live within it from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing."
With Christmas approaching they asked that Jerusalem "not be deprived" of peace; they wished Trump a Merry Christmas and asked that he help them "listen to the song of the angels."
"As the Christian leaders of Jerusalem, we invite you to walk with us in hope as we build a just, inclusive peace for all the peoples of this unique and Holy City," they said.
Earlier on 6 December, Pope Francis expressed "deep concern" that a US move recognising Jerusalem as the capital would further destabilise the Middle East. Since the early 1990s, the Vatican has called for a special status for the city. It has insisted the political question of the city's status must be the result of negotiation.
PICTURE: The gold-covered Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount complex is seen in this overview of Jerusalem's Old City ©CNS