Published: 2017-12-20 17:49
Last Updated: 2017-12-20 18:16
Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital damaged Christmas celebrations and led to hundreds cancelling trips, the Catholic church's top official in Jerusalem told media on Wednesday.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem criticized Trump’s decision saying "dozens" of groups had pulled out of planned visits after being scared off by the announcement and subsequent clashes, according to the AFP.
Talking about US Vice President Mike Pence’s delayed visit to the city's holy Christian sites, he said the heads of the Christian churches in Jerusalem would find it difficult to accept, calling for him to "listen more" to other Christians.
Pence planned to visit Jerusalem this week, but the trip was delayed until January amid anger and protests in the Middle East over Trump’s decision.
"Of course this created a tension around Jerusalem and this diverted attention from Christmas.”
"After this there are some tensions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem also. This scared many people, so we've had less people than expected."
However, he confirmed they are continuing their plans for Christmas celebrations.
"We cannot say no to pilgrims, we are religious, we cannot say no to someone, even if he is the bigger sinner in the world," Pizzaballa answered when asked whether Pence could visit the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus's crucifixion, and other Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
However if Pence requests an official visit, "sometimes we cannot neglect the political consequences or political aspects," he said without elaborating.
Pence should "listen more. No one has a monopoly on Jesus, not even the Evangelicals,” he confirmed.
Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the city had been a crucial issue in the last two weeks, as with protests taking place across most of Palestinian and Arab cities.