The Prince of Wales has delivered a message of hope to Christians persecuted in the Middle East telling them “extremism and division” are not inevitable.
Speaking at a Westminster Abbey service celebrating the contribution of Christians to the region, Charles said he was privileged to have met so many “with such inspiring faith and courage” who were battling oppression and persecution, or who have fled to escape it.
In his address to the congregation the prince said about the Middle East: “Throughout history, in these lands which are the cradle of faith for Jews, Muslims and Christians, communities of different beliefs have shown that it is possible to live side by side as neighbours and friends.
“Indeed, I know that in Lebanon Muslims join Christians at the Shrine of our Lady of Lebanon to honour her together.
“And I know that there are Muslim faith leaders who have spoken out in defence of Christian communities and of their contribution to the region.”
“Time and again I have been deeply humbled and profoundly moved by the extraordinary grace and capacity for forgiveness that I have seen in those who have suffered so much.”
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) December 4, 2018
The service was attended by more than 1,000 people including congregations from the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, Syriac Catholic Church and Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church, all visited by Charles in recent years.
The prince added: “Co-existence and understanding are not just possible, therefore; they are confirmed by hundreds of years of shared experience.
We're pleased to welcome clergy from many churches of the Middle East and North Africa to this evening's service to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East. pic.twitter.com/hUXIdumCDN
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) December 4, 2018
“Extremism and division are by no means inevitable.
“All three of the great Abrahamic faiths believe in a loving, just and merciful God who cares for creation, who cares for his creatures and who expects us to care for one another.”
Over the past five years the heir to the throne has met many Middle Eastern Christians now living and worshipping in the UK after escaping recent conflicts in nations like Iraq and Syria.
At the annual events Charles, who for many years has encouraged inter-faith dialogue both at home and abroad, has expressed concern about the challenges facing Christians in some Middle-Eastern nations.
Charles ended his address by saying: “So in this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who himself knew exile, injustice and suffering, I can only assure you of our steadfast support and most heartfelt prayers as you take forward your works of restoration, justice and healing, so that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.”