Pope Francis: Jerusalem's Status Quo must be defended or the suffering will continue
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Theophilus III, and Pope Francis greeted each other with this warm welcome.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is thus returning a visit to Pope Francis after the visit he made to the Holy Land in 2014.
"We are here today for this fraternal visit on a pastoral mision."
Pope Francis recalled his journey to the Holy Land and expressed his satisfaction for the collaboration between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Armenian Patriarchate and the Franciscan Custody for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The Patriarch's visit is a sign of the growing understanding among the Christian Churches of the Holy Land.
"It is not possible to change the past, but, without forgetting grave failures of charity over the centuries, let us look to a future of full reconciliation and fraternal communion, and take up the work before us, as the Lord desires. Not to do so today would be an even graver fault."
Pope Francis also lamented the unstable situation in the Holy Land. He especially commented on Jerusalem, a city whose Status Quo must be respected.
"To this end, any kind of violence, discrimination or displays of intolerance against Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshipers, or places of worship, must be firmly rejected. 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."
The pope called for favoring the conditions of a stable peace, based on respect for the rights of all. In this way, security will once again return and no Holy Land inhabitant will be forced to leave to find peace elsewhere.