Archbishop Justin spoke after meeting and praying with Middle East church leaders. (Picture: Lambeth Palace)
Wednesday 3rd September 2014
praying with Middle East church leaders, the Archbishop spoke out in
solidarity with Christians and other minorities being persecuted in the
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin
Welby, has spoken of "a state of emergency" in the Middle East for
Christians and other minorities.
After meeting and praying with
leaders and representatives of Middle East churches at Lambeth Palace
this morning, the Archbishop said there have been "gross violations" of
"fundamental rights and freedoms" in the region.
Flanked by the
other church leaders, the Archbishop said in a statement to the media:
"We gather today as Christians, including those originally from the
Middle East, to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and
sisters, who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they
have been a continuing presence since the beginning of Christianity,"
Calling for justice "without impunity", the Archbishop
said the suffering of those bearing the brunt of ongoing terror
"requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic
group or religious minority they come from."
Later this morning the Archbishop joined other faith leaders at a joint peace vigil for Iraq outside Westminster Abbey.
Read Archbishop Justin Welby's statement as delivered:
new situation has arisen which creates a state of emergency in the
Middle East for Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities.
The recent increase in violence and aggression has resulted in gross
violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms in the region. We
gather today as Christians, including those originally from the Middle
East, to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters,
who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they have
been a continuing presence since the beginning of Christianity.
Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and home to indigenous
Christian communities that have been an indispensible part of its
history. Despite the challenges, Christians in the region were and are a
stabilising and reconciling presence. Today, particularly in Iraq and
Syria, they are at great risk from violence fostered by extremist
ideologies which no longer see them as being part of the future. The
Middle East is in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of
its identity, heritage, and culture.
"We are seeing an extreme
religious ideology that knows no limits in its persecution of those who
are culturally or religiously different. Those who promote this
intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to
account without impunity. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of
its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever
ethnic group or religious minority they come from. We must provide
relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives, in
consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring
pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.
meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and
sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and
perseverance. We commit to continue to stand with them in prayer, to
speak for freedom in the persecution for Christians and all other
religious communities and those of no faith who live as minority groups
across the region. We also continue to urge Her Majesty’s Government to
work within the international community to safeguard and provide for all
"To our brothers and sisters in the Middle East,
we use these words: We 'share with you in Jesus the persecution and the
kingdom and the patience and the endurance.' (Revelation 1:9)"