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Heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem urge retaining city's 'international status'

Pilgrims attend 'fire' ceremony at Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Associated Press)
Pilgrims attend 'fire' ceremony at Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Associated Press)

Heads and patriarchs of Christian churches in Jerusalem on Wednesday bemoaned President Trump’s decision to recognize the ancient city as Israel’s capital, and urged its international status be retained.

“We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land,” the leaders said in a letter to Trump, “moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

Thirteen heads and patriarchs signed the letter. They represent various branches of the Christian faith, including Greek, Syrian and Armenian Orthodox churches; Episcopalians, Catholics and Lutherans.

Several are Palestinian, and most share space in the revered Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem’s Old City. Most Christian tradition holds that the church is located at the site of the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

“Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem,” the churchmen said. “Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm.… In this coming Christmas, we plea for Jerusalem not to be deprived from peace.”

Jerusalem contains some of the holiest sites for all three monotheistic faiths.

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