The Prince of Wales meets members of the congregation at the Syrian Orthodox Church
The Prince of Wales has visited the Syrian Orthodox Church in west Acton, where he has spoken about the persecution of people in the Middle East because of their faith.
His Royal Highness spoke out against the recent attacks on schoolchildren in Pakistan during a visit to the London cathedral of a community of Middle Eastern Christians.
Some of the worshippers have fled persecution in their homelands but in recent months the spread of Islamic State fighters has brought further misery as family back home in Iraq or Syria have been forced to flee for their lives.
At a special service held in The Prince's honour, he told the congregation of the Syrian Orthodox Church, based in East Acton, west London: "And as I have said before, it seems to me that all faiths to some extent shine a light on the divine image in every human life.
"And if that is so, then surely to destroy another human being is to desecrate the image of the Divine. To do so in the name of faith is, surely, nothing less than a sacrilege.
"I need hardly say that the murder of 141 people, 132 of them children, in Peshawar yesterday by fanatics claiming to act in the name of Islam was a sickening example of such sacrilege.
"But also a horrific reminder that Muslims themselves are the victims of the violent intolerance of the extremists."
A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Syrian Orthodox Church, Acton, London
Published on 17th December 2014
Archbishop, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to return to this wonderful church and your congregation in this season of Advent although as I stand here surrounded by Wise Men from the East, today feels to me rather more like Epiphany!
I am enormously grateful to you for your wonderful gift, which I shall treasure and I know my small grandson will as well.
Archbishop, as some of you may be aware, this is the third visit that I have paid in recent weeks to churches whose congregations have the soul-destroying experience of inhuman persecution. In this Advent season, a season of celebration, it is the more profoundly heart-breaking that so many Christians are being persecuted for their faith. For more than twenty years I have tried to build bridges between people of different faiths and have appealed for greater understanding, for greater tolerance and for harmony between the great religions of the world. At a time when so little is held sacred, it is quite literally diabolical that these symbolic bridges should be so destroyed.
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And yet there are people who, in the name of their religion, can find it in themselves to disregard the sacred and to persecute people of another faith, or of a different branch of their own faith. So you must not forget that Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been victims of appalling persecution as well as Christians and Yazidis. As I have said before, it seems to me that all faiths to some extent shine a light on the divine image in every human ...