Yet another British leader has taken a strong stand for Christians in the Middle East. This time, it comes from The Prince of Wales.
Speaking at an Advent reception for Christians in the Middle East, the Prince spoke with candor and clarity rarely seen from such a high ranking Western official when speaking about Christian persecution. He confronted the challenge head on:
For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord's own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.
Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.
The Prince's tone suggests to me that the persecution of Christians is not only a political or moral concern to the Prince, but it is also personal:
For twenty years, I have tried to build bridges between Islam and Christianity and to dispel ignorance and misunderstanding. The point though, surely, is that we have now reached a crisis where the bridges are rapidly being deliberately destroyed by those with a vested interest in doing so – and this is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organized persecution – including to Christian communities in the Middle East at the present time.
One point that the Prince raised yesterday and was also touched on in Freeman's Telegraph article on Iraq is the moderating role and influence that Christians play in their communities.
It is important to note, above all, that the decline of Christians in the region represents a major blow to peace as Christians are part of the fabric of society, often acting as bridge-builders between other communities.
According to the Prince, the devastation of the Christian community in the Middle East is tearing apart an important piece of the fabric in the Middle East, and the bridges that Christians have built are being deliberately destroyed across the Middle East. What remains is a Church weakened, vulnerable, and in great decline.
We need more leaders in the West, like Prince Charles, who have the courage to speak up for persecuted Christians. The Institute believes we stand at a crucial moment in history: We either answer the cries of the Church and, as the Prince rightly stated, respond in deep prayer, even "extreme outrage" for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ, or we watch silently as the Church in the Middle East disappears.
Please join the Institute in a prayer for God's people and His Church in the Middle East.