Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians has spoken out against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and effectively giving recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
Bartholomew called for the city’s unique standing to be preserved during a speech to a Greek school in Istanbul to mark the Christmas Eve holiday on Dec. 24.
“During a recent visit to Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, I expressed by absolute view that the status quo of holy city of Jerusalem should be kept despite new decisions to change it,” Bartholomew said.
The following day, during his Christmas Day sermon, he touched on the issue again while speaking to the congregation.
“All Christians in Jerusalem, not only Orthodox but also Catholics and Armenians, share the same view,” he told a Christmas congregation in Istanbul on Christmas Day.
“As there are already so many sufferings in the Middle East, why are new ones added to this?”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv drew condemnation from across the world and sparked angry protests in the occupied territories, where many holy Christian sites exist.
Last week, a UN resolution condemning the decision was backed by 128 states, isolating the U.S. and a few other nations, while staunch U.S. allies like Greece, Great Britain and other opposed the United States.
Christian leaders in the Holy Land also opposed Trump’s unilateral decision, sending him a dire warning a few days before the decision was made.
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