“As Christians all around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it is of vital importance that we remember all those who suffer persecution for their Christian faith.
I recently had the great privilege of meeting a priest who had ministered to those in Sri Lanka who were so dreadfully injured in the barbaric attacks this year, on churches on Easter Day. With nearly 260 killed and more than 500 injured in that appalling atrocity, Sunday, 21st April was the single, worst day of violence targetting Christians in the modern era. But tragically, it was not an isolated example.
I also met a religious Sister recently, who told me, most movingly, about the situation in Syria where, with immense courage and in impossible conditions, she provides crucial support to Christians and others escaping violence and death. A report in October by the charity Aid to the Church in Need found that within a decade up to two-thirds of Christians have fled Syria. In Iraq, Christian communities have shrunk by up to ninety percent within a generation. As we recall how the Christ Child fled with his parents to Egypt, let us remember the countless many who endure terrible persecution or are forced to flee their homes. And let us strengthen our resolve to prevent Christianity disappearing from the lands of the Bible.
The Syrian Sister I met gave me a gift: it was a depiction of the head of the Crucified Christ, made out of charred wood taken from a bomb-blasted church in Aleppo. As we mark this holiest of seasons in the Christian calendar, may I assure those of you who carry the cross of suffering today, that you are in my most special thoughts and heartfelt prayers. And to Christians everywhere, may I wish you a peaceful, safe and holy Christmas”.
HRH Charles, Prince of Wales