JERUSALEM (Dec. 25)
The Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, quoted Pope John Paul II Tuesday as declaring in an interview that “No one nation can claim exclusive ownership” of Jerusalem. According to the semi-official daily, he was responding to a question on the Vatican’s view of Israel’s law declaring undivided Jerusalem its capital.
The Pontiff was quoted as saying further that “The Vatican categorically rejects the view that it is enough to protect the right to visit the holy places while leaving Jerusalem a united Jewish city under Jewish rule.” He reportedly urged Israel not to obstruct attempts to bring peace to the Middle East. He said Moslems and Christians had a duty to work together “to achieve freedom for Jerusalem and restore the Holy City to all religious groups,” Al Ahram reported.
The Pope also discussed the status of Jerusalem and the problem of the Palestinian people with Prince Soud al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, during a private 45-minute meeting in the Vatican this week.
The Pope “reaffirmed the well-known position of the Holy See that it is against any unilateral initiative to modify the political ‘status’ of Jerusalem and the hope that the Holy City may become a meeting place for faithful of the three monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism,” a Vatican communique said.
It added that the Pontiff “also expressed the urgency of an action to resolve with impartiality the problem of the Palestinian people and to preserve the independence, territorial integrity and unity of Lebanon. According to the communique, the meeting between the Pope and Faisal “took place in an atmosphere of deep cordiality and understanding.” It was the first time that a Pope met with a member of the Saudi royal family.