ASIA/PAKISTAN - The church of San Francesco attacked in Karachi: the Franciscans in fear

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church of St. Francis, the oldest of the archdiocese of Karachi, in the old town, was attacked by a mob of about 600 Islamic radicals that devasted the yard, but did not manage to break through the front door. The two Franciscan monks who live there, Fr. Victor Mohan and Fr. Albert Jamil, OFM, and the sisters who work there "are afraid, they fear more attacks, but trust in the Providence of God," they tell Fides. The episode, which has aroused indignation and concern throughout the Catholic community in Karachi, took place at 7 pm last Friday, October 12. A Franciscan priest told Fides: "Fr. Victor had just finished celebrating a wedding, when he heard noises and shouting from the compound of the church. Immediately all the faithful, women and children were sent to the parish house. The radicals, shouting against the Christians, broke into the building and started devastating everything: cars, bikes, vases of flowers. They broke an aediculeand took the statue of the Madonna. They tried to force the door of the church, throwing stones at the church and destroying the windows " The acts of vandalism continued for an hour, then the police arrived, the crowd dispersed. According to Fides sources, the attack can still be a reaction to the blasphemous film on Mohammed or otherwise related to the issue of blasphemy.
In the days following the Catholic Church in Karachi organized a public demonstration of protest, led by the Archbishop of Karachi, Mgr. Joseph Coutts, with the participation of hundreds of priests, nuns, lay people, members of the Commission "Justice and Peace" and of human rights activists. The Assembly, gathered in a peaceful manner, prayed for peace and respect for all religions. Archbishop Coutts told Fides: "The church of San Francesco has always served the poor with a school and a medical clinic run by nuns. For nearly 80 years it carries out a humble service to humanity without any discrimination of caste, ethnicity or religion. Why these acts? Why are we not safe? ". Mgr. Coutts calls for the protection of the government and invites citizens of Pakistan "to respect all religions, so that we may live in harmony and peace." Following their specific charism of dialogue and acceptance, the Franciscans of Karachi collaborate with organizations and Muslim leaders in many fields of social service. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/10/2012)