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    » 03/16/2015, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Bishops call on Pakistanis to stand with fellow Christians, against extremists



    Official statement of the Bishops' Conference (PCBC), signed by Mgr. Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi. The provincial and federal government must "take effective measures to provide security to the churches of Pakistan, so as to guarantee freedom of religion and worship". Card. Oswald Gracias tells AsiaNews: "May the blood of these innocent bear fruit of mutual tolerance between Christians and Muslims in Pakistan."

    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".

    Yesterday 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 ".

    An accident "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 terrorism. "

    "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)

     

     

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    See also

    06/06/2005 PAKISTAN
    Bible Study group celebrates its first year
    A Kasur diocese Bible Study group celebrates its first anniversary in the predominantly Muslim Pakistan. "Members' commitment nowadays is a great thing," says well-known Bible teacher Father Asi.

    10/09/2010 ISLAM - PAKISTAN
    “Burn a Koran” campaign suspended but not called off. Fear for the Christians of Pakistan
    Pastor Terry Jones agreement with Muslim leaders to call off mosque at Ground Zero falls through. The “burn a Koran” campaign launched by the minister is currently suspended and not cancelled as it seemed at first. In Pakistan Islamic extremists threaten reprisals against Christians.

    11/03/2013 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan: Christians and Muslims protest against Lahore arson attack
    The final toll is 178 homes destroyed. In Karachi and Lahore Christian schools closed as a sign of respect. In Faisalabad, thousands of people demonstrate against the violent episode. Muslim activists for human rights: "The police knew but did nothing. Our political leaders have to leave."

    10/11/2007 PAKISTAN
    Another attack on the giant Buddha of Swat
    In the valley of Swat, north western Pakistan, Islamic militants have launched a second attack in less than a month on the gigantic sacred statue. The head, shoulders and feet have been destroyed while the militants threaten a third and final attack.

    01/06/2010 PAKISTAN
    Justice and Peace: "Strong condemnation of attacks on Ahmadis"
    The Episcopal Commission asks the Pakistani government to eliminate discriminatory laws and policies that foment sectarian hatred once and for all. In the meantime, more blood is spilled in Lahore: armed men enter the hospital where the victims of the mosque were admitted and opened fire.



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