The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev John Hind, says Christians in the Middle East are facing “extreme deprivation”.
Speaking in a debate on religious persecution in the House of Lords, Bishop Hind said, “In places where different faiths have coexisted for centuries we see the rapid attrition of the Christian church in its ancestral homelands,” reports Religious Intelligence.
He continued, “In Iraq, Christians have suffered extreme deprivation, sometimes due to sheer religious hatred, sometimes just caught in the cross-fire, sometimes because, amazingly and quite wrongly, they are regarded as representatives of a western faith.
“So we cannot disown our own particular responsibility and the pressure on Christians in some parts of the world.”
The bishop noted that not all forms of persecution were violent or even illegal. He said, “Just across the border from Iraq, in south-east Turkey, a part of the world that I know particularly well, court cases are alleging the theft of land from local villages by monasteries in Tur Abdin which have stood there since the late fourth century.
“There is a certain degree of ridiculousness about some of this, but that does actually affect the sufferings of those Syriac villagers and others who are suffering so greatly.”
Bishop Hind also commented on what some have dubbed “persecution” within the UK. He said he welcomed the reinstatement of Caroline Petrie, the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient.
According to the Bishop, a spokesman for a Muslim forum in his diocese described the decision to suspend her as “crazy”.
The Bishop described it as “a welcome sign of how faith communities can hold together in the face of a growing hostility to faith”.