04/13/2017, 14.50
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Catholics mark Holy Week with charity and music, without forgetting their Coptic brothers and sisters

by Kamran Chaudhry

Acts of charity for the poor and musical events have been organised involving the faithful as Islamic terrorism casts its shadow. The Bishops' Conference remembers in prayer the victims of the attacks in Egypt and their families.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Catholics in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are marking Holy Week with works of charity, like feeding the poor, as well as re-enactments of the Passion of Christ.

"It is the perfect time to help needy families and share the love of Jesus Christ with the poor. This is the true spirit of Lent," said Fr Francis Gulzar, parish priest at St John's Church in Lahore.

AsiaNews spoke with him the day before yesterday as he handed food in Youhanabad, the country’s largest Christian enclave. About 50 people received food rations for a week, mostly women.

Fr Gulzar has been organising food distributions for the past five years, during Holy Week and ahead of Christmas.

"This has become a parish tradition,” he noted. “Fifty more families will be helped before Easter. The catechists were asked to identify widows and the elderly.”

On the same evening, the Cathedral of the Holy Redeemer in the city of Multan (Punjab) organised ‘The evening of Calvary’, with the brothers of St Joseph Seminary performing a musical play and songs of reflection for Holy Week. Mgr Benny Mario Travas, bishop of Multan, presided over the event, which was attended by more than 700 people.

“We have been organising this special evening for three consecutive years,” said catechist Asif Raza of Multan Cathedral. “People usually attend liturgical programmes this week but they do not participate enough. They appreciate full involvement and performances by professional singers and musicians.”

Catholic schools across the country announced the start of celebrations with Holy Thursday. Churches security teams finalised plans to protect parishioners during Easter Mass, especially after recent attacks on Egyptian churches. Bishop Travas urged the faithful to pray for the Coptic victims in his Palm Sunday homily.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan condemned last Sunday’s killings in a press release titled ‘Condolence on Church Bombings in Egypt on Palm Sunday'.

“Killing innocent people on the basis of their faith is unacceptable. The Church around the world stands in solidarity with our Egyptian brothers and sisters in this hour of need and pray that the government may bring the perpetrators to justice”, said Bishop Joseph Arshad, National Director Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani and Executive Director Cecil Shane Chaudhry in the statement.

The latter expresses the grief over this tragic event, which caused bereavement in different parts of the world.

“May God deliver us from all evil,” said Bishop Arshad. May he “let us continue our prayers of hope and healing in the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We should pray for the families to our Lord Jesus Christ, that God may grant them peace and give them strength to overcome this irreparable loss.”

In addition to condolences, they prayed for peace and harmony in the world and, above all, for the safety of Christians in Egypt. They also prayed for the victims’ families and wished a speedy recovery for all those injured in these gruesome attacks.

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