ASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Coutts: "At Easter, our churches will be packed"

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - Fear and violence will not prevent Christians of Pakistan to celebrate with great devotion, and massive presence, Easter. His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Episcopal Conference, explains to Fides Agency: "At Easter, our churches will be packed. The faith of the faithful is alive and strong: violence or attacks, such as that of Joseph Colony in Lahore, have the effect of strengthening it even more. "Mgr. Coutts is convinced that Christians in Pakistan will continue to give a strong testimony: "Let us not lose hope, we know that the Lord is with us and the faithful themselves, even in difficult moments, encourage all priests: the Catholic laity in Pakistan is growing."
The incident of Joseph Colony, where 178 homes of the faithful were burned by a Muslim mob, for an alleged blasphemy case, has not discouraged the faithful in Lahore. Fr. Bonnie Mendes told Fides that "the atmosphere, despite the tragic violence, is of great optimism and there is a will to rebuild or repair their homes. The reconstruction is being carried out very quickly, people are going back to their homes, the provincial government gave compensation and in a few days, working day and night, more than 30 families have already rebuilt their homes. Caritas is also helping the homeless a lot. We hope that Easter is peaceful and harmonious." "With regards to the challenges such as human rights and blasphemy - says Fr. Mendes – we are optimistic, even after this episode, for example the Maulana Zubair, a well known Islamic leader, has publicly said, that the abuse of the blasphemy law must be reviewed: This is a good sign for the future." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/03/2013)