The Archbishop of Westminster has added his voice to church leaders criticising Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has criticised the "intolerable infringement on the Status Quo" threatened by Israeli legislation supported by "radical settler groups" restricting Church land rights in the Holy City.
In a letter to the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and other church leaders in the Holy City, Cardinal Nichols writes: "I wish to express my solidarity with you and all Christians in the Middle East at this troubling time.
"We stand at odds with President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the official capital city of the state of Israel and consequent rejection of the consistent position of the United Nations; and we fear that this will increase the already deep-rooted tensions in the city and the wider region."
The letter comes as Theophilos III prepares to meet UK Government Ministers Alistair Burt and Rory Stewart as part of an international tour to lobby support for his Church and against the Knesset legislation.
The Patriarch has already been backed by Church leaders including Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, as well as the King of Jordan and others.
He is concerned about a proposed bill signed by 40 Knesset members that would restrict the rights of Churches, including the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem, over their land.
Pope Francis said in October: "The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all."
Last month, Archbishop Welby said: "I join other Church Leaders in calling for all parties to uphold the Status Quo and resist weakening it. I believe that a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land is of paramount importance.'
The Patriarch will tomorrow join together Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury inside Parliament.
In his letter, Cardinal Nichols writes: "I wish to express my solidarity with you and all Christians in the Middle East at this troubling time."
He adds: "We stand at odds with President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the official capital city of the state of Israel and consequent rejection of the consistent position of the United Nations; and we fear that this will increase the already deep-rooted tensions in the city and the wider region."
He expresses "grave concern" at the proposed Bill of Church Lands that is currently under consideration in the Israeli Parliament.
"We stand in solidarity with you against this threat to the long-standing arrangements that allow all faith communities to live together in Jerusalem.
"The Bill of Church Lands that has been proposed in the Knesset would grant the State the power to confiscate Church land. This proposal represents an intolerable infringement of the Status Quo and the legitimate rights of the Churches and should be recognised for what it is: an attack on the property rights of the Christian community. We urge religious and political leaders in the United Kingdom and around the world to join us in speaking out against this threat to religious freedom, which would set a dangerous precedent for other faiths in the Holy Land.
"We also request those in authority in Jerusalem to act decisively to stop the actions of radical settler groups that seek to expand their control over properties in Jerusalem to the exclusion of residents of the City who are not Jewish."
(Pic: Patriarch Theophilos presents an icon to the Cardinal in London)