09/11/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Faisalabad, memorial Mass in the cathedral for the martyrs of Gojra

by Sarah John
The diocese has recalled the seven Christian victims, massacred by Islamic fundamentalists in August. Father Yaqoob: they have sacrificed their lives “for their faith in Christ”, which "goes beyond death”. Throughout the country prayers offered for the persecuted and minorities.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Christians in Faisalabad celebrated a memorial Mass for the martyrs of Gojra. The ceremony was held on Sept. 9 at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and was organized by Fr Yaqoob Yousaf, director of the Diocesan Centre for catechesis, with the cooperation of the local Sant'Egidio community.

Mass was also attended by members of the pastoral team from the parish of St. Paul in Jaranawala, led by Father Yaqoob, the Dominican Sisters, the Franciscan Sisters and a large delegation of the faithful of the diocese. A giant poster depicting the faces of those killed was placed near the altar, and many lit candles and offered flowers (pictured), as a token of love and gratitude for the victims.

On 30 July, thousands of Islamic fundamentalists stormed the village of Koriyan, burning 51 Christian houses. On August 1, at least 3 thousand extremists targeted the Christian community of Gojra, burning seven people alive (including two children and three women), wounding 19 and burning hundreds of homes.

During his homily Fr Yaqoob highlighted "the courage of the people of Gojra" who "sacrificed their lives to bear witness to the Christian faith." "This type of attack and killing of Christians - said the priest - is nothing new for the Church, because history is full of testimonies of martyrs, who gave [with their sacrifice] new life to the Church." He finally added that "death will never conquer our faith in Christ."

In recent weeks in various churches and parishes of Pakistan Masses were celebrated and prayers said to remember the dead and all minorities persecuted because of their faith.

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