ASIA/PAKISTAN - A "Day of Prayer for our martyrs" after the attacks on churches

Monday, 16 March 2015

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Time of mourning and prayer for the Church in Pakistan: today, Monday, March 16, the Catholic faithful celebrate a "special day of prayer for the innocent lives of the martyrs". This was announced in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by His Exc. Mgr. Sebastian Shaw OFM, Archbishop of Lahore, after the twin suicide bombing that yesterday, March 15, hit the Catholic Church of St. John and the Protestant "Church of Christ ", in Youhanabad, an entirely Christian suburb on the outskirts of Lahore, where 15 people died and over 80 were injured.
The Archbishop announced that Catholic schools and institutes are closed today to commemorate the innocent victims, and defines "martyrs" those who "gave their lives in the accident to save thousands of people". "Their blood was not shed in vain and will bring peace to all citizens of Pakistan".
Condemning the barbaric acts and calling for greater government commitment to the protection of Pakistani Christians, Mgr. Shaw prays "so that peace and harmony prevail in the country" and called on all citizens to "openly reject violence and terrorism".
Even His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi and President of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan has released a statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, in which he says: "The Catholic Church strongly condemns the brutal suicide attacks on churches in Lahore. We beg the government in Punjab and the federal government of Pakistan to take adequate measures for the protection of churches and religious minorities in Pakistan.
We ask the faithful not to react with violence and to cooperate with the police in the investigation. We pray the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the injured and the families of the victims".
"The government, political parties, religious leaders and every citizen of Pakistan - said Mgr. Coutts - are called to speak out against extremist forces, alongside their Christian brothers and sisters. Believers of all religions must promote peace and social harmony and protect each other from terrorism. The Catholic Church and other religious minorities in Pakistan are asking the government to take effective measures to guarantee freedom of religion in the country". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/03/2015)