Lahore (AsiaNews) - "The Catholic Church of Pakistan strongly condemns the brutal suicide bombings against churches of Youhanabad, Lahore. Government, political parties, religious leaders and all citizens of Pakistan must stand alongside their Christian brothers and sisters, against extremist forces", reads the official statement released by Msgr. Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, President of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan (PCBC). "The government of Punjab and federal government - he underlines - must take extraordinary measures to protect churches and religious minorities in the country".
morning two al-Qaeda linked Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militants, blew
themselves up at the entrance of two churches in Lahore, killing 14
people and injuring about 80 people. Today the police announced two separate investigations
for the attacks which have sparked protests across the country, the most
violent of which took place in Lahore, where about 4 thousand Christians
(mostly young) took to the streets and destroyed vehicles and some bus stops.
At one point, an angry mob lynched and killed a suspect.
In the statement, the Catholic bishops also addressed an appeal to the Christian community, asking them to "avoid violence and to cooperate with the police in their investigations. We pray to our Lord Jesus Christ for the health of the injured and to grant grace to the families of the martyrs ".
"of such atrocities," says Msgr. Coutts, "requires the whole
nation to join hands and show itself united against terrorism. We can belong to
any religion - Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha'is or other - but we
should always promote peace and social harmony, protecting each other against
"On behalf of the Catholic Church - said the president of the PCBC - I ask the provincial and federal government, to take effective measures to provide security to the churches of Pakistan, so as to guarantee freedom of religion and worship."
Yesterday's attacks in Lahore have provoked a global outpouring of solidarity. From India Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), tells AsiaNews: "We offer our condolences to the bereaved families. May God comfort them in this time of suffering and pain. The Church in India, accompanies them in prayerful solidarity , through this Via Crucis, that they may find Peace and Strength to bear their loss".
"I feel very much for our Christians in Pakistan" - the Cardinal adds to AsiaNews. "In this time of Lent they have participated fully in the death and resurrection of our Lord. Surely there will be a resurrection for them. As President of the FABC I am personally very committed to inter religious dialogue and this incident will make me pursue this more forcefully".
The Cardinal concludes: "May the blood of these innocent Christians, bear fruits of mutual tolerance and harmonious co-existence and dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Pakistan".
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)