Prince in plea to faith leaders

Published: Tuesday 4th November 2014 by The News Editor

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The Prince of Wales has urged faith leaders to ensure that people within their own tradition respected those of others.

His plea came in a video message recorded for the launch of a report on religious freedom, compiled by the international charity Aid to the Church in Need.

He said the “horrendous and heartbreaking” events in Iraq and Syria had brought the subject of religious freedom and persecution to the forefront of the world’s news.

“We have learnt with mounting despair of the expulsion of Christians, Muslims and Yazidis from towns and cities that their ancestors have occupied for centuries,” he said.

“Sadly, incidents of violence in Iraq and Syria are not isolated. They are found throughout some, though not all, of the Middle East; in some African nations; and in many countries across Asia.

“Thankfully, despite this bleak picture, there are inspirational people of different faiths joining together to overcome division and hatred. And, if I might say so, it is a well-established principle of inter-faith dialogue that we judge each other by the best expression of our faith rather than the worst.”

The Prince said that over several decades he had been working to encourage dialogue and greater understanding between different faith traditions.

He said: “It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East – an area where Christians have lived for 2,000 years, and across which Islam spread in 700 AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries.

“It seems to me that our future as a free society – both here in Britain and throughout the world – depends on recognising the crucial role played by people of faith. And, of course, religious faith is all the more convincing to those outside the faith when it is expressed with humility and compassion, giving space to others, whatever their beliefs.”

He suggested ways to bring about an improvement. “First and foremost, rather than remaining silent, faith leaders have, it seems to me, a responsibility to ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions. We have yet to see the full potential of faith communities working together.”

Secondly, it was essential that governments honoured their duty to uphold the right of people to practise their faith, he said.

“Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear in stating that this right includes the freedom to change one’s religion or belief. Yet even in the West this right is often challenged. Sadly, in many other countries, an absence of freedom to determine one’s own faith is woven into the laws and customs of the nation.”

Published: Tuesday 4th November 2014 by The News Editor

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