2016-03-14 15:18:00

Sainthood calls for Pakistani martyr who prevented a major terrorist attack ‎

A young Pakistani man killed while preventing a suicide bomber from entering a crowded church should be considered for canonization, according to Catholics marking the anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack carried out in Lahore on March 15 last year.   Volunteer security guard Akash Bashir, 20, stopped the suicide bomber from entering St. John's Catholic Church and tackled him while being aware he wore a bomb vest.  The attacker from a Taliban splinter group detonated the bomb, killing himself and Bashir outside the church. 

Father Francis Gulzar, the parish priest, said the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on two churches in the Youhanabad area of Lahore marks the beginning of a movement to seek sainthood for Bashir. "Akash is our hero; his bravery saved more than 2,000 people inside the church," said Father Gulzar. Bashir was one of at least 15 people who died in the attacks and more than 70 were wounded. The other site simultaneously attacked was a nearby Protestant church. Currently 42 Christians remain in jail over the lynching of two Muslims who were suspected of being involved in the attacks.

Under tight police security, Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore and seven priests celebrated a Mass for about 3,000 faithful on March 13 in the memory of victims of last year's terror attack.   At the anniversary, Bashir's parents helped launch "Unforgettable Sacrifice" a booklet about their son's sacrifice that includes eyewitness accounts of his death.  Father Gulzar said the booklet would help document the life of the country's potential first saint.  (Source: UCAN)

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