2014-12-18 18:35:00

Church in Pakistan responds to a National tragedy

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a human rights body of the Catholic Church in Pakistan, on Wednesday strongly condemned the massacre of schoolchildren in a brutal Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar. “We grieve and stand with the families of the children affected and killed in this cowardly attack,” said National Director Fr Emmanuel Yousuf Mani and Executive Director Cecil Shane Chaudhry in a joint statement. A Taliban assault on a military-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday left 141 dead, with 132 children among the victims.

Catholic schools across Pakistan on Thursday observed a minute of silence and gathered during the morning prayer, remembering the victims of the tragedy. It was the initiative launched by the Pakistani Bishops who, in a statement sent to Fides, condemned "the brutal violence" and express "full solidarity with the families of the victims". The official note, signed by the Archbishop of Karachi, Mgr. Joseph Coutts, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, also calls on all the Christian communities of Pakistan to "celebrate Christmas in a sober manner, in order to respect the pain of the families and the entire nation".

Christmas, he says, will be an opportunity to "pray for the victims of Peshawar", but also for the Christian couple Shahzad and Shama Masih, burned alive by a mob of Muslims in Punjab in early November. "On the day of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, may all Christians pray for peace in Pakistan. It is the duty of every Christian to promote peace, reconciliation, harmony, unity".

The Archbishop of Karachi also appealed to the government, political parties, religious leaders and all citizens, to come up with a shared response "to this tragic massacre". He also insisted on the need for "urgent measures" to ensure security in schools and other institutions, which are "easy targets" for terrorists.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Christian groups announced the cancellation of Christmas celebrations and decided to observe the day with simplicity in all Peshawar churches.

The local Express Tribune quoted Ernest Jacob, Bishop of the Orthodox Church, as saying that “We have decided to hold Christmas services and special prayers at all churches of the city and will not hold any celebrations.” “It is the deadliest assault of the country’s history and the Christian community can never hold religious festivities at such a somber time,” he told the paper.

Source: Fides, AsiaNews, UCAN


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