The Prince of Wales makes a speech
The Prince of Wales has spoken of his heartbreak at the "soul destroying tragedy" facing Christians in the Middle East.
The Prince described the faith as "quite literally, grotesquely and barbarously assaulted" while addressing the congregation of the St Yeghiche Armenian Church in South Kensington, London today.
He said: "We must all as Christians seek to do. For some time now I have been troubled by the appalling atrocities faced by Christians suffering in the Middle East...It is the most soul destroying tragedy."
He added that Armenian Christians had long lived peacefully with their neighbours.
The community have suffered as a target of Syria's civil war and from the violent unrest in the wider region.
The Prince said: "It is heartbreaking to learn of the attacks on Christians and on Churches where they gather, such as the Church in Deir el Zour (Syria) earlier this year."
The Prince finished his address by expressing his sympathies to the congregation for the ongoing attacks, saying: "They seem so hopelessly inadequate but please, please just know truly heart felt they are."
The Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Iraq at St Y
During the service, Avak Asadourian, the Archbishop of Iraq, spoke of the problems facing Armenian Christians in the region from his own experiences.
"Due to assaults Iraqi Christians are leaving the country of their forefathers. In 1980 there were 1.5 million, this is now down to 400,000 due to the encroachment of Isis," he said.
"If political measures are not adopted very soon, then in the Middle East Christian manifestations will cease to exist in its own birthplace," he said.
While at the church, The Prince also spoke with Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK, and doctor Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian ambassador.
His Royal Highness has existing ties with the Armenian community and has shown an interest in encouraging inter-faith dialogue over the years.
He visited Armenia in May 2013 and spoke with some of the country's leading Christian figures.
In December last year The Prince expressed concern about the challenges facing Christians in some Middle-Eastern nations in a visit to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Acton.
A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales during his visit to the St. YeghichÃ¨ Armenian Church, London
Published on 19th November 2014
Your Eminence, Bishop, and Ladies and Gentlemen. Before I leave this wonderful Church I particularly wanted to thank Bishop Vahan for this really exquisite icon, I will treasure it for the rest of my life and I am hugely grateful. It will be a very special memento to my visit to you all here today.
I particularly wanted, more than anything else, to express my warmest thanks for such a marvellous welcome here to St. YeghichÃ¨. I also wanted on this occasion to pay a special tribute to Vatche Manoukian for the wonderful generosity which has enabled this church to flourish the way it does. It is yet another example of his and Tamar's incredible and continuous generosity to so many remarkable causes all over the world.
I am also so deeply grateful to the Ambassador Dr. Armen Sarkissian who showed me so carefully around Armenia two years ago. It was a visit I had been looking forward to for many years and finally I achieved it and his hospitality was indeed hugely appreciated.
I am also very grateful to you, Bishop Vahan as I know that the Armenian Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland is blessed to have such a Primate whose wonderful work for the Armenian community is rooted in his profound faith and apparently boundless energy.
And Ladies and Gentlemen I am so pleased and delighted to be with you today and to join my prayers to those of the world's oldest established church, which I understand originated from the missions of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus and was formally recognised as the nationa ...Read full speech