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Prince Charles

Prince Charles gave a gift to Aid to the Church in Need for Christians in the Middle East during an Advent reception. He said, in part:

At this traditional time of prayer and reflection on the mystery of the Incarnation, it seems to me vital that we pause for more than a moment to think about the plight of Christians in the lands where the Word was actually “made flesh and dwelt among us”.  For, despite what the brainwashed militants would have people believe, Christianity is not a “foreign” religion.  As the atmospheric Chapel of St. Ananias in Damascus and countless other holy sites bear witness, Christianity has been part of the rich tapestry of life in the Middle East for two thousand years.  And it was the early Middle Eastern church communities in places such as Antioch, Alexandria, Bosra in Syria, and Mesopotamia which eventually brought Christianity to Asia and the West.  To take just one example, the Armenian Apostolic Church – which, of course, is the oldest Established national church in the world – traces its origins to the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddaeus.  And, ladies and gentleman, it is, perhaps, worth remembering that those of us who are members of the Church of England will be only too familiar with the Nicene Creed, whose words were first formulated in the Middle East in the fourth century.  Far from Christianity being a “Western” religion, Christianity was born in – and shaped by – the East…!

This is what makes the plight of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ so especially heart-breaking.  Their suffering is symptomatic of a very real crisis which threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.  In fact, according to Aid to the Church in Need, Christianity is on course to disappear from Iraq within five years, unless emergency help is provided on a greatly increased scale at an international level.  This affects us all.  Consequently, the greatest challenge we face is how to ensure that the spiritual and cultural heritage of Christianity in the Middle East is preserved for future generations – quite apart from doing all we can to provide practical support to those who are persecuted.

Please continue to pray for the persecuted church in the land of its birth.

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