This year Prince Charles visited the Armenian Orthodox, Chaldean Catholic, Coptic Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox Churches during the course of 2014. In the case of the Syriac Church, he visited them twice in one short year. Ekklesia associate and Middle East analyst Dr Harry Hagopian assesses the significance of these acts of concern and solidarity.
The Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and the Justice and Peace Committee issued a statement about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. It is a highly significant document in the light of recent media attention to these issues, and repeated statements from Baroness Warsi and others. There are serious issues at stake here, but it is important that they are understood properly and in context so that the appropriate solidarity for all oppressed groups can be expressed.
Open Doors, a charity set up to support Christians facing persecution throughout the world, recently presented a report to Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt at a Parliamentary meeting highlighting the particular vulnerability and targeting of the Christian minority communities within the wider Syria crisis.
Christians and other small communities in the Middle East and North Africa face an uncertain and sometimes dangerous situation in which fear is understandable, acknowledges Dr Harry Hagopian. But there is still good reason to resist being overly gripped by insularity and despair, to question the agenda of hierarchs, and to try to respond positively to the grassroots change that will continue to sweep the region over the coming year and beyond.