On Christmas Day, Pope Francis delivered his annual address celebrating the Christian holiday and used the opportunity to take direct aim at Donald Trump’s controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
During his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (speech to the city and to the world), the pope called on members of the Catholic church to pray for dialog between Israelis and Palestinians to resume, just days after the U.N. voted 128 to 9 to condemn the Trump administration for its decision.
Trump’s move has reignited latent tensions in the region and was widely condemned as an unnecessary provocation. For decades the U.S. has kept its Israeli embassy in Tel Aviv, and former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all decided not to move the embassy to Jerusalem, citing national security interests, CNN noted.
On Sunday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced the country would follow suit and also move its embassy to Jerusalem.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialog may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” the pope said, referring to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Dec. 6, when Trump announced his decision, Pope Francis rebuked the move by calling on the rest of the international community to “commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city.”
Addressing throngs of supporters from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis urged Catholics to use the story of the nativity to sympathize with stateless and displaced peoples the world over.
“Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the child,” he told his followers. “And to recognize [Jesus] in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, ‘there is no place in the inn.’”