London, England, Dec 8, 2016 / 03:02 am
U.K. officials drew strong criticism for denying visas to Middle East bishops from regions that have suffered Islamic State group persecution, preventing them from attending a cathedral consecration.
"These are men who have pressing pastoral responsibilities as Christian areas held by ISIS are liberated," said Archbishop Athanasius Toma of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the U.K. "That is why we cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way?"
Syriac Orthodox leaders Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf of Mosul and Archbishop Timothius Mousa Shamani of St. Mathew's in northern Iraq were denied visas, the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Express reports.
Similarly, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs and Hama was also denied a visa. British embassy officials said they would not waive the blanket policy against visas for Syrian citizens.