Prince Charles of Britain has condemned the ongoing suffering and persecution of Christians in Syria and prayed that believers worldwide would have the courage to withstand even the most unbearable of circumstances.
According to Premier, during a speech delivered on Thursday honoring the consecration of a Syriac Orthodox Church in London, the Prince of Wales said, "It is surely deeply encouraging, at a time when the members of the Syriac Orthodox Church in their homelands of Syria and Iraq are undergoing such desperate trials and such appalling suffering, that in Britain the Syriac Church is able to expand and gain in strength."
The Prince also described the ceremony as a "notable sign of hope for the future", amid the ongoing six year civil war that has killed over 400,000 people and displaced millions. Open Doors UK, a persecution watchdog organization, says Christians in Syria and the surrounding regions are not only being caught up in the current civil war but they are also being specifically targeted by ISIS and other extremist groups.
Charles also prayed that the congregation of the Cathedral, and all members of the Syriac Orthodox Church worldwide, be "blessed with the kind of courage and faith that can ultimately transcend the unbearable misery and anguish that have been so cruelly inflicted upon you, your loved ones and your brethren."
This is not the first time the Prince has voiced his sorrow at the plight of Christianity in the Middle East, the region of its birth. In 2014, he urged faith leaders to ensure believers have respect for other religions instead of remaining silent over the suffering of minorities.
"'It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East," he said. "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.'
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.'
The Prince said 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.
Earlier, Charles expressed his "deep distress" over the horrific scenes from the Middle East and called on the media to ensure the world "is not allowed to forget the stark horror of what is happening in Iraq and Syria; not to forget our brothers and sisters whose faith is, quite literally, under fire; not to forget the unimaginable barbarity to which they have been exposed; not to forget the many, many people who have been savagely murdered or who have died fleeing violence; not to forget those who have lost everything, including their houses; not to forget that countless thousands have had to leave the places in which their families have lived for innumerable generations".