Catholic leader: US Jerusalem recognition spoiled Christmas plans

The Catholic Church’s top official in Jerusalem on Wednesday criticizes Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital, saying it damaged Christmas celebrations and led to hundreds canceling trips.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, says “dozens” of groups had pulled out of planned visits after being scared off by the announcement and subsequent clashes.

He adds that the heads of the Christian churches in Jerusalem would find it difficult to accept an official request by US Vice President Mike Pence to visit the city’s holy Christian sites in January, calling for him to “listen more” to other Christians.

“Of course this created a tension around Jerusalem and this diverted attention from Christmas,” Pizzaballa says of Trump’s December 6 decision.

“After this there are some tensions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem also. This scared many people, so we’ve had less people than expected.”

He stresses, though, that they would continue with planned Christmas celebrations.


Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaks during the annual pre-Christmas press conference at the Latin Patriarchate headquarters in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)

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