Prince Charles Condemns 'Appalling Suffering' Of Syria's Christians

The Prince of Wales at the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church in London yesterday with Archbishop Ignatius Aphrem II Karim and 600 members of the congregation.Clarence House/Instagram

The Prince of Wales has a gift for lifting the spirits of even the most besieged, troubled communities.

Yesterday he danced with members of the congregation at the consecration of the new Syriac Orthodox church in London, St. Thomas Cathedral.

But first, he acknowledged the terrible sufferings of so many Christians in Syria.

"It gives me great happiness to be present at the consecration of the Cathedral of St. Thomas," he said.

"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."

The Prince, a devout Christian, prayed that the congregation of the Cathedral, and all members of the Syriac Orthodox Church worldwide, be "blessed with the kind of courage and faith that can ultimately transcend the unbearable misery and anguish that have been so cruelly inflicted upon you, your loved ones and your brethren." 

Every consecration of a Christian church is a reminder of the consecration of King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, he said, according to a text of his remarks released to Christian Today.

"There, in the book of Kings, it is said that, when the Arc of the Covenant was brought into the temple, 'the Glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord'. I can only pray that the divine glory may likewise fill this newly-consecrated house of God."

While rejoicing in the beauty of this place of worship, it was also worth remembering that the highest and ultimate temple of God is the human person, he added.

Prince Charles continued: "As St Paul says to the Corinthians, 'Do you not know that you are God's temple?' The Church of God exists not only in visible buildings such as the present, but also more profoundly in the invisible building formed from the living stones of the faithful. So, as we consecrate this visible temple, let us also, each one of us, rededicate to our Lord the inner temple that is our own true self."

There were more than 600 members of Britain's Syriac community present for the celebrations. In addition, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and worldwide head of the church, Ignatius Aphrem II Karim, had travelled from Syria to London to take part.

Afterwards, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of the UK, Athanasius Toma Dawod Dakkama, blessed a plaque on the wall and the Prince joined in traditional Syrian dance, holding hands with members of the community dressed in ceremonial silk and silver, outside the cathedral.

The congregation thanked the Prince for his courage and steadfastness in speaking out for Christians who are being persecuted in the Middle East.