John Pontifex, Fr Ziad Hilal SJ, Baron Johannes Heereman, Dr Sarah Bernstein, HRH The Prince of Wales, Neville Kyrke-Smith, Jacques Kallassi, Shaykh Dr Mohammad Umar Al-Qadri, Dr John Newton, Sr Helen Haigh, RJM, at Clarence House
HRH Prince Charles was presented Aid to the Church in Need's Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report at Clarence House yesterday. Present at the meeting were religious leaders who had spoken at the parliamentary launch event and senior ACN staff. The Prince met Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal from Aleppo, Syria, Dr Sarah Bernstein, Director-General of the Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations and Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK).
Also present were Sister Helen Haigh, Provincial of Europe of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, four of whom are Syrians providing emergency relief in the country, Lebanese Christian Jacques Kallassi, John Pontifex, Editor-in-Chief of the Religious Freedom in the World 2016 Report and report researcher and production editor Dr John Newton.
Later the Prince of Wales attended the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church in west London. His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II Karim and 600 members of the congregation were there to welcome The Prince. The service was hosted by the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UK, His Eminence Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod Dakkama.
His Royal Highness was welcomed to the church by 600 members of the congregation. The service was hosted by the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UK, His Eminence Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod Dakkama. The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II Karim, had travelled from Syria for the occasion.
During the service, the congregation thanked The Prince for his courage and steadfastness in speaking out for Christians who are being persecuted in the Middle East. Other guests included The Bishop of London, the Mayor of Ealing and clergy from all over the UK.
This visit follows on from two previous visits that His Royal Highness has made to the Syriac Orthodox Church at Acton (in December 2013 and December 2014) to meet Christians from Iraq and Syria who had suffered persecution in the Middle East.
During a speech, The Prince said: "It gives me great happiness to be present at the consecration of the Cathedral of St Thomas.
"It is surely deeply encouraging, at a time when the members of the Syriac Orthodox Church in their homelands of Syria and Iraq are undergoing such desperate trials and such appalling suffering, that in Britain the Syriac Church is able to expand and gain in strength. In this way the consecration of your Cathedral is indeed a notable sign of hope for the future."
See a video from the day here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPfGvkFVfcU
See also: ICN 25 November 2016 - Report describes global impact of religious 'hyper-extremism' http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=31416