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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.”