31 July 2014, The Tablet

Prince Charles 'planning to meet Anglican vicar of Baghdad'

The office of the Prince of Wales has been in touch with Vicar of Baghdad Canon Andrew White with a view to giving wider publicity to the sufferings of Christians in Iraq.

In interviews and sermons during a brief visit to Britain last weekend, Canon White described the suffering of his community, many of whom have now fled, and warned that Christianity in Iraq could be close to extinction.

Numbers in his own church, St George's Baghdad have fallen from 6,500 to 1,000. Of these, 1,276 have died. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Canon White said: "Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing. We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off. Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near."

He called on the British Government to do more to help Christians fleeing Mosul, where they were ordered to convert, pay a religious levy or leave. The plight of Christians in parts of the Middle East and faith in the region in general has been a long-term interest of Prince Charles. In a recent article in the pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat he wrote: “It saddens me deeply that the ancient Christian communities are among those facing growing difficulties, despite the fact that part of their long and deeply-rooted history in the region is testimony to the tolerance and understanding Muslim leaders have shown in the past. It seems to me that the bridges of understanding which matter to us all are being deliberately destroyed by militant fundamentalists with a vested interest in doing so – and this is achieved through intimidation, false accusation and organised persecution.”

The Tablet understands that a meeting between Canon White and a member of the Prince's staff is possible in the near future.

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