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‘Pray for those doing us harm’

27 September 2013

AP

Bowed: a Pakistani Christian woman prays for victims of a suicide attack on a church in Peshawar, during a protest near the Parliament in Islamabad, on Monday

Bowed: a Pakistani Christian woman prays for victims of a suicide attack on a church in Peshawar, during a protest near the Parliament in Islamabad,...

CHRISTIANS must pray not only for the victims of violence, but for those who perpetrate it, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

In an interview for Radio 4's World at One on Tuesday, conducted in the wake of attacks in Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan, he said: "We pray for justice, and particularly the issues around the anger that comes when there is this kind of killing. But we are also called . . . to pray for those who are doing us harm."

Asked why Christians were being targeted, he said that "very often, you will find that what has happened in what appears to be a religious conflict is that a very large number of social and historical causes of violence have been hung on the simple hook of 'they are of one faith, and we are another.'" But he acknowledged that some Christians had been attacked "because of their faith", as in Peshawar.

Events in Syria and Egypt were also discussed. The Archbishop revealed that he had recently spoken to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to urge the Government to "take the threat, particularly to the great traditional Christian communities that have been there for well over 1000 years . . . very seriously indeed".

In a blog published on Monday, the Archbishop called for a week of prayer for hostages around the world, and also for their captors. "We cannot pretend to understand all the complexities of the situation, but we know that such acts of hostage-taking . . . or extra-judicial killing are always wrong."

In addition to the siege in Nairobi, he drew attention to the kidnapping of Syrian priests, and to Camp Ashraf, in Iraq, where 52 people were recently found dead (News, 13 September). The release of Archbishop Kattey of Nigeria (News, 20 September) gave rise to hope, he said.

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