Lahore marks third anniversary of attacks on Christian churches
by Shafique Khokhar

On March 15, 2015, two Taliban kamikazes blew themselves up at the entrance to two churches in Youhanabad. The blood of martyrs against terrorism. After the suicide attack, the number of faithful has increased.     

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people participated in the commemoration for the third anniversary of the attacks on Christian churches in Youhanabad, a district of Lahore.

On  March 15, 2015 two Taliban blew themselves up at the entrance of two churches - the Catholic St. John’s Church, and Protestant Christ Church - causing the death of 19 people and the wounding of over 70.

In his homily Fr. Francis Gulzar, vicar general of the local archdiocese and parish priest of Youhanabad, recalled the Christian martyrs. "The faithful - he said - who sacrificed their lives are not dead. Their sacrifice is exceptional because they have offered their lives for the love of the faithful of Jesus Christ ".

The ceremony took place yesterday at John's Girls High School. The theme of the meeting was "Service of Prayer for Peace and Stability in Pakistan". Priests, nuns, catechists, students, teachers, social and political activists, the families of the victims were present.

Fr. Gulzar stressed that "the blood of these martyrs is the proof that they sacrificed not only for love, peace, harmony and union, but with their blood they have also challenged terrorism and extremism" . The parish priest points out that "after the suicide attack with our churches, the number of faithful has increased. Now many more people come to church without fear and fear. This is a clear message: we are true proponents of peace and harmony and we will not accept negative attitudes ".

Fr. Anayat Barnard recalled the sacrifice "of the martyr Aakash Masih, a boy who that morning of March 15th placed himself before the bomber. He is a true hero for our nation. He died for the love of Christ and his faithful. This is why I ask the Pakistani Episcopal Conference to intercede with Pope Francis so that he may be declared 'Venerable' ". Then he invited "in this period of Lent, to focus on the passion of Christ, because he taught us that he who sacrifices himself for others can never be defeated. For this reason we will never accept extremism and we will continue our efforts to make peace and harmony prevail in our country ".

Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, national director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), asks that "the president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan act on the Youhanabad case and free the [Christian] victims unjustly arrested".

Christians, he underlines, "have sacrificed themselves as much as others for the creation of Pakistan. We have done our best for its development and progress. Therefore the discriminatory attitude against us must end and we must be treated as equal citizens of the state ".