HL Deb 26 March 1841 vol 57 cc608-9
The Bishop of London

presented a petition to which he wished to call their Lordships' particular attention. It came from a most respectable body of individuals at Sheffield, and they prayed that measures should be adopted by the British Government to give that full and complete protection to the members of the Christian churches in Syria and the Holy Land, which was not at present extended to them. The petitioners were of opinion, that as, under Divine Providence, the British arms had been successful in Syria, the present opportunity was most favourable for making a representation in favour of those Christians. Individuals professing the Roman Catholic faith in the Ottoman dominion were under the protection of France, those who professed the doctrines of the Greek church were protected by Russia, but there was no specific protection for that class of Christians who approached more nearly to the Reformed Church than any other. He hoped, therefore, that at the present moment their interests would not be lost sight of. By interposing to secure for the Christians of Syria protection for the free exercise of their religion, and the full enjoyment of any privileges which they now possessed, their Lordships would be conferring a very great benefit on those people. No intention existed—no wish was entertained—to withdraw their homage from the Porte, under whose government they lived; but it was most desirable that due protection should be guaranteed to them under the auspices of the British Government. From what had occurred in the other House of Parliament, he was happy to find, that Government had not lost sight of the subject, but that a negotiation had been opened with the Ottoman government respecting those Christian churches. He hoped also that the interests of the oppressed Jews of the East would not be forgotten; but that they would be protected in the free exercise of their religion, which they had an undoubted right to claim.

Viscount Melbourne

could assure the right rev. Prelate that Her Majesty's Government had not been inattentive to this subject. Means had been adopted to carry into effect the wishes expressed by the petitioners, and the result, he had every reason to hope, would be satisfactory. It was very true, that the Roman; Catholics in the Turkish dominions were under the protection of France, while the members of the Greek church were under the protection of Russia. It was, therefore, right that the British Government should take proper steps for the protection of the Syrian Christians who were more nearly allied to the Church of England.

Petition laid on the Table,

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