Lahore: diocesan phase ends for the martyrdom of Akash Bashir

On the ninth anniversary of his death, a Eucharistic celebration marked the end of the local investigation towards the beatification of the young man who died protecting others during a deadly Islamist attack in Youhanabad. “We pray for this grace for all parents to raise peaceful youth strong in their faith,” Archbishop Shaw said.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – With a solemn Eucharistic celebration, the Archdiocese of Lahore today closed the diocesan phase of the process for the recognition of the martyrdom of Akash Bashir.

The young Pakistani man died at the age of 20 trying to protect worshippers outside Youhanabad’s St John Church during an Islamist attack exactly nine years ago against the Catholic church and a nearby Protestant church, which resulted in a massacre with scores of dead and wounded.

Bashir is the first Pakistani Catholic to be accepted as a Servant of God towards the honour of the altars.

His Christian life, marked by service to others in the youth group organised by the Salesians in Lahore, has been examined in the past two years by the diocesan tribunal for the causes of saints, which established in 38 sessions that his act of great courage on 15 March 2015 is the fruit of a life wholly spent bearing heroic witness to Christian virtues.

In accordance with Canon Law, the documents related to the beatification process will now be sent to Rome for further investigation at the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

Today's liturgy, presided over by Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, was concelebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Germano Penemote and about 40 other priests.

Also present at the ceremony, along with hundreds of faithful, were Akash Bashir's parents and friends who together with him took care of the security service for the celebration on that tragic morning on 15 March 2015.

In his homily, Archbishop Shaw expressly thanked the parents of the Servant of God for the Christian education passed onto Akash. “We pray for this grace for all parents to raise peaceful youth strong in their faith,” the prelate said.

“His humility, simple life and determination are a source of bravery and courage for us all. We know that it is difficult to lead a Christian life in our environment. Akash has set a powerful example for young people. He will remain alive in our lives and church,” he added.