You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Head of Anglican church visits Christian refugees in Jordan

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/05/2017 By SAM McNEIL and OMAR AKOUR, Associated Press
Justin Welby, center, the archbishop of Canterbury, meets with fellow Anglican leaders in Amman, Jordan on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 during a trip to the see the region's Christian refugees. "We do not want a Middle East without Christians. Christians are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future," said the archbishop. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil) © The Associated Press Justin Welby, center, the archbishop of Canterbury, meets with fellow Anglican leaders in Amman, Jordan on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 during a trip to the see the region's Christian refugees. "We do not want a Middle East without Christians. Christians are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future," said the archbishop. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

AMMAN, Jordan — The head of the Anglican Church met with Iraqi refugees Tuesday during a visit to Jordan in which he called on the region's embattled Christians to remain in the Middle East, the cradle of their faith.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Christians "are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future."

Two dozen refugees from Iraq asked the archbishop to help them leave the Middle East after praying with him at the Anglican church of St. Paul in Amman. Welby also met Jordan's King Abdullah II and visited the Zaatari refugee camp.

The Middle East is home to the oldest Christian communities in the world, but large numbers have fled in recent years to escape war and Islamic extremism.

At dusk, the bells at Amman's Church of the Redeemer rang out in welcome of the archbishop for a prayer service with about a hundred Jordanian, Iraqi and other Christians.

Welby invoked the Ten Commandments in a plea for more support for refugees from the Middle East, including Christians.

Bassam Adam, a Christian from Mosul, said he fled Iraq "with nothing but the clothes on our backs" after the Islamic State group entered the city in 2014.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have driven IS from much of Mosul in recent months, but Adam is in no hurry to return. He said intolerance is deeply rooted in Iraq, "even in the minds of the kids," and that Iraqi Muslims would throw stones at Christian school buses.

"They consider us as a second-class people," Adam said. "How could we live together?"

Britain's ambassador to Jordan, Edward Oakden, who also attended the service, sounded a more optimistic note.

"Throughout human history there have been countless triumphs of the human spirit, this will be another one," he said. "The archbishop's visit helps create that sense of future, hope and possibility."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon