Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - We must remain united and face the causes of extremism: is the appeal launched on the occasion of a special interreligious prayer vigil organized in the cathedral in Lahore in memory of the victims of the attack in a Methodist church in Quetta , capital of Beluchistan, on December 17, while the death toll has risen to 14 and 65 wounded. As Fides learns, the meeting, promoted yesterday by the National Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, within the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, was presided by Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the Catholic diocese of Lahore, and many Christian leaders of confessions present in Pakistan (Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, members of the Salvation Army) but also many Muslims, took part in the meeting.
All the participants strongly condemned the "inhuman attack on innocent Christians who were praying" and prayed for the families of the faithful who died and were wounded. The religious leaders present, expressed their full solidarity towards the Christians and called on the government "to face the extremist elements and the roots of this intolerance".
"We need to remain united in this moment of suffering, this attack wants to separate us and create division in society and among religious communities, but we will remain united and firm in our faith. May the Lord God grant us strength, wisdom, tolerance and peace", said Archbishop Shaw. During the prayer, all the participants lit candles and passed the night in prayer, entrusting God with the fate of the nation and renewing one’s commitment to build a peaceful social and religious coexistence in Pakistan.
Many voices from Pakistani civil society are rising: in a message sent to Fides, the "Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation", a Catholic-inspired foundation based in Lahore, expresses "pain and anger because, once again, the state failed to protect the lives of its citizens". "It is the primary responsibility of the government to guarantee the security and protection of every citizen and its places of worship.
The state must respect its promise to protect the lives of its citizens, regardless of religion", said President Michelle Chaudhry, a lay Catholic. "The authorities must do all they can to eradicate the scourge of terrorism, how many more lives will we have to lose? How many other families will be broken?" It is urgent to work together to defeat the human massacre caused by terrorism", she concluded. (SJ-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/12/2017)