London: Prince Charles’s extends hand of sympathy to Iraqi Christians

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1210 Iraq_UKBy John Newton
HRH The Prince of Wales reached out in sympathy to Iraqi Christians in London during a visit in which he described “the indescribable agony” of recent persecution.
Meeting Iraqi families grieving loved ones killed, maimed and separated during ongoing violence, The Prince’s visit yesterday (Tuesday, 9th December) to the Catholic Church of the Holy Family, West Acton, climaxed with a speech in which he highlighted the plight of Christians in parts of the Middle East.
The Prince said: “I must say that, having heard some of the accounts and stories of unbearable suffering became into the church from members of your community, I feel extraordinarily inadequate in trying to express how much I feel for what all of you are forced to go through – such indescribable agony.”
He made an appeal for more action to help Christians and others. He went on to highlight images of beheading spread on the internet and warned of a descent into the “dark ages of public executions.
“We hear much at present about ‘the duty of care’. Then, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am bound to ask, whether there is not a duty of care towards the victims of violence and their families who, like you, are daily distraught by the graphic transmission of violent images of their loved ones?”
He later said: “It seems to me that all faiths to some extent shine a light on the divine image in every human life.
“If that is so, then surely to destroy another human being is to desecrate the image of the Divine, and to do in the name of faith is nothing less than a blasphemy?”
Earlier, Archbishop Habib Jajou, former Chaldean chaplain to the UK, read a message from Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad, thanking the Prince for writing him to express his sympathy following the attacks on Christians in Mosul and nearby the Nineveh Plains.
He also praised the Prince for donations to help Christians in Iraq – supporting the work of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
ACN’s John Pontifex gave a brief overview of the charity’s work helping Christians with emergency food and shelter in displacement camps in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, where 120,000 of them fled after a spate of attacks in the summer carried out by Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Mr Pontifex said: “Thank you, Your Royal Highness, for what you are doing both to bring to the world’s attention the persecution of Christians and other faith communities, and for taking practical steps to help our brothers and sisters in Christ – not just in Iraq but in Syria and elsewhere.”
An especially poignant moment in the Prince’s 90-minute visit came when Chaldean UK chaplain Father Nadheer introduced a choir made up of Chaldeans who sang the Our Father in Aramaic, the language of Christ.
Before bidding farewell to the packed church, The Prince met choir members and thanked them for leading the music and prayer.