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Despite recent troubles, faithful in Pakistan enter Holy Week with a sense of hope

Mar 30, 2015

Palm_sunday_lahore

Members of the ACC in Pakistan prepare for their Palm Sunday procession.

For the Anglican Catholic Church in Pakistan, 2015 started on a hopeful note.  After months of planning, Father Mushtaq Andrew received a visa to travel to South Africa, where he was to be consecrated as the ACC's Bishop of Lahore.  On February 13th of this year, he knelt before Archbishop Mark Haverland and two co-consecrators, and received his orders, an event which was celebrated with great joy by his flock back home. 

However, not long after his return to Pakistan, the new bishop was faced with an unsettling and dangerous series of events.  On March 15th, suicide bombers attacked St. John's Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church, Youhanabad, during Sunday services.  Seventeen were killed and more than eighty were wounded in the attacks, which were carried out by an offshoot of the Taliban called Jamatul Ahrar.  Though no ACC parishes were threatened, Bishop Andrew has expressed grave concern, given the proximity of the attacks to so many of his people.

Nor is this the first time Christians in his diocese have been targeted.  In 2013, a Christian residential area in Lahore was attacked by a Muslim mob and over one hundred houses were ransacked.  In the same year, an attack by the Tehrik-i-Taliban on All Saints Church of Peshawar resulted in 127 Christians killed and over 250 injured.  And in November of last year, a Christian couple in Punjab Province were tortured and burnt alive for supposedly desecrating the Koran.  In each of these incidents, Christians of all denominations have taken to the streets in protest and to pray for peace.

Yet despite these events, Bishop Andrew and his people remain hopeful, and look forward to celebrating the Holy Week liturgies, not in secret, but in their churches, as they hve always done.  In so doing, he asks for prayers and support from the wider Church. 

The people of God are still at risk and ending the power of terrorists in Pakistan is essential to their survival.  We appreciate the efforts of Government of Pakistan, particularly our Pakistani Army, which is striving to sweep terrorism from our land.  We believe their sacrifices will not go in vain.  We pray for all those who are contributing to the struggle against terrorism, and appeal to all well wishers to pray for peace and stability in our region.

For more on this story, and others like it, see the next issue of The Trinitarian.

 

Tagged: mushtaq andrew, pakistan, terrorism, holy week