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Second Church Estates Commissioner (Oral): Anglican Communion Tour

29 January 2015

4. Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): What discussions the Commissioners have had with the Archbishop of Canterbury on lessons learnt for the Church from his year-long tour of the Anglican Communion. [907276]

Sir Tony Baldry: The Archbishop of Canterbury visited 36 of his fellow archbishops during his pilgrimage around the Anglican Communion. In his presidential address to the General Synod in November, he reported that it was a

“flourishing…but also a divided Communion.”

Mr Nuttall: The Archbishop of Canterbury will have encountered widespread concern in the Church of England about the difficulties faced by Christians in other parts of the world. What is the Church doing to help those in other countries, particularly in the middle east, who are persecuted because of their religious beliefs?

Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend raises a very serious issue which I am sure the House will treat seriously. The Archbishop of Canterbury has observed:

“Not a day goes by without something which should break one’s heart at the courage and the difficulties involved”

for such people. I think the fact is that the hostility Christians are facing is now on a far more serious level and we are reaching the point where the word “persecution” no longer adequately describes the treatment of Christians in many parts of the world. Religious cleansing and a type of cultural genocide—which is a crime against humanity—is a more accurate description, and we are now seeing that in Iraq, Syria, parts of Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan. The goal of Islamic extremists such as ISIS is total Islamicisation, and this has nearly been achieved in Iraq, for example, which a decade ago was home to one of the four most robust Christian communities in the Arab world. Sadly, that is no longer the case.