BY SCO Admin | March 20 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-PROTESTS-IN-PAKISTAN-1

Pope condemns bombings in Pakistan

PM Nawaz Sharif and chief ministers to blame for not protecting Christians, Archbishop Coutts says

Pope Francis has condemned the bombing of two Christian churches in Pakistan and prayed that such violence will come to an end.

“With suffering, with much suffering, I have learned of today’s terrorist attacks against two churches in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, which have caused numerous deaths and injuries,” the Pope told pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square last Sunday.

The Holy Father noted how both of the churches targeted, only a few metres apart, ‘are Christian churches, the Christians who are persecuted,’ and grieved how ‘our brothers shed their blood solely because they are Christians.’

In addition to praying for the victims and their families, the Pope implored God ‘for the gift of peace and harmony for that country, and that this persecution against Christians—which the world tries to hide—will end, and that there will be peace.’

The Holy Father’s words came after what police believe to be two suicide bombers interrupted Sunday services at St Joseph Catholic Church and Anglican Christ Church in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. At least 17 people were killed and 70 injured in the attacks, which are believed to have been timed during Sunday services to cause maximum damage.

Jamatul Ahrar, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, is said to have claimed responsibility for the attacks. After hearing of the attacks, Christians in Pakistan took to the streets in protest, and killed two men they believed were behind the bombings. The local government deployed 5000 security personnel to prevent further trouble at the funeral of one of the men on Tuesday.

Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Kararchi has said Pakistan’s Prime Minister must take part of the blame for the deadly attacks.

Pakistan’s leading Catholic has accused Nawaz Sharif and chief ministers of leaving minority faith communities open to attack by failing to act on a 2014 order from the supreme court to provide security in all places of worship.

In his message—which he sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need—the archbishop said: “This new act of terrorism has cruelly shown how defenceless we are due to this neglect.”

Calling for calm, Archbishop Coutts in his message stated: “I particularly appeal to all Christians to voice their protests in a peaceful manner and not to resort to violence and destruction of public property, which serves no purpose.”

The archbishop said that, as a mark of respect for the dead and those in mourning, all Catholic schools and educational centres in the diocese would remain closed the day after.

In Britain, Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), said: “This latest attack on an innocent Christian community is symptomatic of the hatred and vilification that Christians and other minorities face in Pakistan.

“My heart aches for my brothers and sisters in Pakistan who are undergoing such extreme persecution, the global Church has to speak out for this voiceless community or their suffering is set to get worse.”

 

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—Read the full version of this story in the March 20 edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday.

 

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