The Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne, has expressed concern that the plight of Christians in the Middle East has been overshadowed by public obsession over Brexit.
At a reception at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Prince Charles reportedly said, “people are more interested and obsessed with Brexit than persecuted Christians.”
According to The Telegraph, the comments have not been denied by royal aides.
The Prince referred to the late-2016 report by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which received little news coverage in the mainstream media.
“…it seems to me vital that we pause for more than a moment to think about the plight of Christians in the lands where the Word was actually ‘made flesh and dwelt among us’.” – Prince Charles
The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report identified that between June 2014 and June 2016, “religious liberty has declined in 11 of the 23 worst-offending countries. In seven other countries in this category, the problems were already so bad they could scarcely get any worse.”
The source at the Lambeth House event reportedly said, “Prince Charles complained that the Aid to the Church in Need report had sunk without trace because people were so obsessed with Brexit.”
It’s not the first time the Prince has been outspoken on the suffering of Christians in the region.
“…a very real crisis which threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.” – Prince Charles
In December 2015, he spoke powerfully of Christians he had met who had been kidnapped, tortured and threatened with beheading, but had kept their faith.
“At this traditional time of prayer and reflection on the mystery of the Incarnation, it seems to me vital that we pause for more than a moment to think about the plight of Christians in the lands where the Word was actually ‘made flesh and dwelt among us’.
“Their suffering is symptomatic of a very real crisis which threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.”
In that speech, the Prince cited a report by ACN, which predicted that Christianity was on course to disappear from Iraq within five years, unless emergency help was provided on a greatly increased scale at an international level.
There are fewer than 250,000 Christians left in Iraq, following a sustained campaign by Islamic State to rid the region of its Christians. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled to neighbouring cities and countries, searching for safety.