Photos above: Msgr Shah visits the wounded (Catholic TV Pakistan)
Pakistan and the Lahore Bombings
A great need for prayers, spiritual and moral support
Following the attacks of last Sunday which left 74 dead and 340 wounded in Lahore, Pakistan, Father James Channan, OP and director of the Peace Centre located in the city (and a partner of Aid to the Church in Need), declared in a message sent to the Canadian office of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), that this “tragic incident has left the entire Pakistani nation in a great state of shock and unbelief.”
“I am deeply touched by your [ACN’s] words of solidarity with us at the horrific suicide bomb blast,” he wrote and adding “No one can believe that these terrorists could be so merciless and without a human heart.”
“Your prayers and concern are very much appreciated. It is very hard to explain the intensity of this tragedy in words in which 74 innocent lives of both Muslim and Christian men, women and children were lost,” Father Channan shared with us.
We, as the promoters of interfaith and Christian-Muslim dialogue, have committed ourselves to do more in this field. So that we become instruments of healing, reconciliation, respect for all and peaceful co-existence.
He also confirmed that the “targets” of the attacks were “vulnerable Christians who belong to the poorest class and are the soft and easy target of militants.”
“We as Christians are persecuted on account of our faith in Pakistan. But we as Christians have also learnt how to live in fear and in a state of uncertainties.”
Father Channan went on to condemn these attacks and asked for prayers.
“We are in a grave need of your prayers, moral and spiritual support at this most difficult time of our history.”
Dialogue: “Difficult, but not impossible”
“We are the people of hope, and we will never give up doing good. We will never give up promoting dialogue, acceptance, tolerance and respect for all and discrimination towards none. We will keep on the lighting the candle of hope in spite of the great darkness we find around us.”
Father Channan has organized an Interfaith Memorial Service for the victims of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Easter bombings in Lahore. It will take place at their Peace Center, also in Lahore, on Saturday April 2 at 5.pm.
Attending, will be over 50 Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh religious leaders, human rights activists and promoters of interfaith dialogue. “Thanks to you, Aid to the Church in Need, for being our partner in Pakistan!” he writes us. “We, as the promoters of interfaith and Christian-Muslim dialogue, have committed ourselves to do more in this field. So that we become instruments of healing, reconciliation, respect for all and peaceful co-existence. And also play our integral in changing the mind-set of the radicals. Which seems difficult, but not impossible. It is one of the great challenges for us,” he wrote to ACN Canada.
The Pope addresses the victims
“I was told that the Secretary of State had phoned the nunciature to say that the Holy Father is praying for the people who are suffering and that he personally wanted to send them his good wishes.” declared the Archbishop of Lahore, Msgr Sebastian Francis Shaw on Wednesday. “I have to say it was a very timely call.”
“I was visiting over 100 people I was visiting and they were so pleased to know that the Pope had them in mind – not just the Christians but the Muslims too. Many Muslims were also victims of the blast.”
The Pope’s message echoed Francis’ comments on Easter Monday ( March 28 ) in Rome where he told the crowds of his “closeness to those affected by this cowardly and senseless crime.” Reflecting on his visits to the wounded in Lahore’s Sheikh Zaid and Jinnah Hospitals, Archbishop Shaw said: “It was very, very difficult to console them. We had no words to offer them.”
The archbishop asked ACN for a message of condolences which could be read during the funerals. The message, sent by ACN’s UK national office pledges prayers and states: “Please be assured of the compassion and love of your friends from Aid to the Church in Need all around the world.”
“May the message ring out in your hearts: ‘You are not alone; we are here from countries all over the world to ensure that you will never be left to suffer alone.’ “We mourn with you; we share in your loss.”
Aid to the Church in Need Canada is proposing a time of prayer in solidarity with all the victims of the attacks last Sunday. The prayers will take place this Sunday of Mercy’ , which was established by Saint John Paul II in April 2000. To join in this day – please visit our Facebook page for Aid to the Church in Need Canada.
Pakistan is a priority country for Aid to the Church in Need, which supports victims of persecution as well as Mass stipends for priests, support for Sisters, training for seminarians, catechesis and other Christian education including Child’s Bibles, Catholic media and evangelization work and construction of churches.