Prince Charles Denounces Christian Persecutions, References Bible in Encouraging Faith Leaders to Unite for Religious Freedom

( [email protected] ) Nov 05, 2014 02:33 PM EST
Prince Charles
The Princes of Wales has spoken out about the 'horrendous and heartbreaking' persecution of religious minorities around the world (Photo: Daily Mail)

Prince Charles recently called the immense persecution facing Christians in the Middle East "genocide" and "an indescribable tragedy" and encouraged believers by referencing Romans 5, in which the apostle Paul states that "suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us."

In a video address played at the House of Lords, the Prince spoke of his sorrow at the plight of Christianity in the Middle East, the region of its birth, and urged faith leaders to ensure believers have respect for other religions instead of remaining 'silent' over the suffering of minorities.

Prince Charles made the remarks just ahead of the launch of a report by Catholic charity, "Aid to the Church in Need," which revealed that religious freedom has deteriorated in 55 of the 196 countries studied in recent months.

The report focuses on the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as Isis and Isil, which is slowly destroying the Christian community in Iraq which dates back almost 2,000 years.

It also mentions the kidnapping of 200 Christian schoolgirls by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria and the case of Meriam Ibrahim who condemned to death for "apostasy" in Sudan, while heavily pregnant, but released after a global outcry including concern by Pope Francis.

"I was encouraged to see the story of Meriam Ibrahim feature in this report. Imprisoned in Sudan, pregnant, and facing a death sentence for reportedly converting to Christianity, Meriam remained true to her beliefs," said the Prince. 

"It is cases such as that of Meriam, who was eventually released, that remind us of St Paul's words, so relevant to all of those enduring persecution for their faith, that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us."

Describing religion as central to "our future as a free society," Prince Charles said that while 'horrendous' events in Iraq and Syria had brought the subject of religious persecution 'to the forefront of the world's news,' persecution is far more widespread.

He said: 'The horrendous and heart-breaking events in Iraq and Syria have brought the subject of religious freedom and persecution to the forefront of the world's news.

'We have learnt with mounting despair of the expulsion of Christians, Muslims and Yazidis from towns and cities that their ancestors have occupied for centuries.

'Sadly, incidents of violence in Iraq and Syria are not isolated. They are found throughout some, though not all, of the Middle East; in some African nations; and in many countries across Asia.'

He added: 'It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East ...

'It seems to me that our future as a free society - both here in Britain and throughout the world - depends on recognizing the crucial role played by people of faith.'

To combat this issue, Prince Charles said faith leaders have a 'responsibility to ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions'.

He noted that while 'we have yet to see the full potential of faith communities working together," such efforts towards peace and mediation are possible if world leaders possess a "maturity in one's own faith" and an "essential humility".

The prince said that a letter Aid to the Church in Need highlights the example of a Muslim Imam, a Catholic Archbishop and a Protestant Minister coming together to form an inter-religious peace group in the Central African Republic.

'These seeds of hope can germinate even in nations and regions torn apart by war and violence," he explained.

He also encouraged governments to uphold the freedom of religion, but noted that this is often challenged, even in the West, adding: 'Sadly, in many other countries, an absence of freedom to determine one's own faith is woven into the laws and customs of the nation.'

In concluding his speech, the Prince noted that his passion for religious freedom is rooted in his Christian faith.

"My own Christian faith has enabled me to speak to, and to listen to, people from other traditions, including Islam," he asserted.

"We do not want to be alarmist but we do want to tell the truth in this report about the degree to which minority groups - Yazidis, and indeed of course Christians, are being pushed out of their homelands.

"It is, in effect, a genocide. What more evidence does one need to point to it being a genocide?"