Prince Charles has implored Christians who have the freedom to worship without persecution not to take those rights for granted.
Speaking at a church in London, the Prince of Wales highlighted the global persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East.
He said it is “heartbreaking beyond words to see just how much pain and suffering is being endured by Christians, in this day and age, simply because of their faith”.
He spoke of the suffering of those in communities who could trace their origins to the earliest days of the Church, forced to leave their homes in the face of “the most brutal persecution”.
He said it was vitally important, therefore, “that Christians in this country and elsewhere, who enjoy the rights of freedom of worship and freedom of expression, do not take those rights for granted”.
Prince Charles continued by reminding Christians to do whatever they can to support their fellow believers “for whom the denial of such rights has had such profound and painful consequences”.
He said he would be holding in his thoughts Christians who are persecuted on account of their faith, and wished all present, along with their families, “as peaceful and holy a Christmas as possible”.
Defender of Faith
The future King caused controversy when it was announced in 2008 that he would drop the “the” from the historic “Defender of the Faith”, in a move to embrace multiculturalism.
Commentators said it was a “subtle but hugely symbolic shift”, which could pave the way for the disestablishment of the Church of England.