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Religious violence threatens to make April fools of us all

This week’s editorial leader

Tempting as it is to play an April fool today—to choose a topic unrelated to or at odds with Catholic teaching and champion it—there is too much sadness mixed in with our Easter joy. Pope Francis’ Easter Urbi et Orbi message denounced terror in light of the recent extremist attacks on public transport in Brussels. This followed his focus on refugees, hope and challenges through the earlier Easter Triduum Masses and services.

Before the joy of the Miracle of Christ resurrection has been marked throughout the whole world, however, news broke of the suicide bombs targeting largely Pakistani Christians in a Lahore park. Of the 70 people killed and the 400 injured, most were women and children. An off-shoot group of the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack which, although targeting Christians at Easter, also claimed the lives of Muslims.

On Monday, the Pope decried the Easter massacre of Pakistani Christians as a ‘vile and senseless crime’ and called for assurances from the Pakistani Government that the safely on the country’s Christians was a priority.

“I appeal to civil authorities and all sectors of that nation to make every effort to restore security and serenity to the population, and in particular to the most vulnerable religious minorities,” he said.

While we should now be looking forward to Divine Mercy Sunday in this the Year of Mercy, many are still struggling to come to terms with and forgive the religious violence and persecution of recent weeks.

Here in Scotland, outside Glasgow where the SCO offices are, the community in Shawlands has been stunned by the murder of a local Muslim shopkeeper Asad Shah in Holy Week, a crime that police believe to be sectarian and religiously motivated.

Mr Shah was attacked following an Easter greeting from an online account apparently belonging to the 40-year-old that had been posted earlier that day. The Facebook message read: “Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x!” A Muslim man has since been arrested in connection with the ‘religiously prejudiced’ killing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have experienced loss of late, but particularly with those who have suffered at the hands of religious prejudice that has now become of daily concern in all of lives.

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