In response to the horror of the bombing of families in the park at Lahore, Pakistan on Easter Sunday, St Nicholas of Tolentino Church are celebrating a Mass for the victims, both deceased and injured, and for the persecuted Church in Pakistan. Bishop Declan will preside at the Mass on Saturday 2 April at 12 noon and all are invited to stand in solidarity with the Pakistan Christian community.
The Mass will be in both Urdu and English, and followed by light refreshments. Parking in the church car park (school and Dunstan centre) on Pennywell Road.
The particular group who claimed responsibility for the atrocity (a splinter group of Pakistan Taliban) specifically stated that they were targeting Christians, including women and children. This is certainly not the first such atrocity – last year 100 homes of Christians were burnt down in one part of Lahore, and churches have been bombed. Here at St Nicholas, because of our ministry to our asylum and refugee brothers and sisters we know well the suffering of Christians in Pakistan. We pray that the authorities in Pakistan will act decisively to guarantee religious freedom and to bring all forms of religious persecution of minorities to an end. We pray also for the Church in Pakistan which has shown such courage and faith, that their and our response to the atrocities they suffer will be truly Christ-like: expressing Love’s victory over evil, in the words of the dying Crucified One, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.
Bishop Declan Lang has written to Joseph F. S. Coutts (Archbishop of Karachi) and President of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference saying that it was with a sense of horror and shock that he heard of the attack on Christians in Lahore. he also said that it was particularly horrendous as many of the victims were women and children. He assured him that with a sense of solidarity with the Church in Pakistan they are all in our prayers during this Easter season when we celebrate the light of God overcoming the evil of sin.
Archbishop Joseph sent the reply below:
Most Rev. Declan Lang
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
Thank you very much for your message of sympathy and solidarity as we in Pakistan once again suffered the consequences of a suicide bomb attack. In March 2015 it was a simultaneous attack on two churches, one Protestant and the other Catholic. In December 2014 it was a massacre of over 100 boys and some teachers in a public school which was 100% Muslim.
Christians as well as Muslims are being targeted. This time the terrorists chose a “soft” target, a public park on a Sunday, because all churches and schools are now better guarded than before.
All of us in Pakistan live in a state of constant tension, even though the government has taken measures to counteract terrorism. Your words of solidarity and your prayers are therefore a great encouragement for. We feel that we are not alone.
Trusting in the Hope and Power of the Risen Lord we shall continue to witness to our faith in this challenging situation. Sincere thanks for your prayer support.
Yours fraternally in Christ,
+ Joseph F. S. Coutts
(Archbishop of Karachi)
Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference