Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Christians mourn murdered minister
Protests and prayers on the streets as Bhatti buried in home villageThe funeral of federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti in Khushpur
- ucanews.com reporter, Khushpur
- March 7, 2011
Also on Sunday more than 4,000 protestors condemning the assassination blocked the main road in a rally from Stunzabad to Amrat Nagar, two Christian villages in South Punjab.
The struggle against the blasphemy laws will continue as Citizens for Democracy, an NGO, plans to send an e-signature campaign to government hierarchy today. The letter demands for action against calls for violence and vigilante action. The Minorities Movement for Democracy, another NGO, has announced it will start a "Shahbaz Movementâ€ť, a mass awareness and mobilization campaign against extremism.
On March 4, more than 20,000 attended the burial rites for Bhatti in the Punjab village of Khushpur. Black flags and banners glorifying Bhatti were displayed on the streets and wailing was heard all day as villagers took part in day-long rallies, converging at the ministerâ€™s house before the funeral.
Bhatti, who supported the revision of blasphemy laws, was assassinated on March 2 in a gun attack in Islamabad. Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani attended the funeral in Fatima Church, Islamabad, before political leaders escorted the body from Islamabad to Khushpur in two helicopters. He assured the Christian mourners that the culprits would be brought to justice.
â€śThe blood will bring revolutionâ€ť and â€śdown with blasphemy lawsâ€ť, shouted protestors wearing black arm bands. Women beat their chests, Christian youths slapped their heads while some cut themselves with razor blades. â€śOur brother died for us; this is the least we can doâ€ť, said Younas Masih, a shirtless local.
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad as well as Church of Pakistan Bishops Alexander John Malik and Samuel Azariah offered the funeral Mass at St. Dominic Girls High School. Police commandos guarded the venue as congregation passed through scanner gate. The organizing priests, crying, struggled to keep the service in peace.
â€śA society which bans right to question is dead. The concept of a paradise for murderers is absurd; we cannot respect a god which encourages killing. Still the Church will never give hate fatwasâ€ť, said Father Perwaiz Emmanuel, cousin of Bhatti, in his address.
â€śThe government is trying to make it a political killing. The country has failed in protecting minorities and is sinking in extremismâ€ť, said the protestant Bishop Malik. The villagers later sprayed rose petals as the minister's body was taken to the graveyard.
Karachi archdiocese also paid tribute to the minister and offered prayers for harmony at Christ the King seminary. Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha blessed a crucifix which will be placed at the seminary â€śto keep alive the memory of the great sacrifice of Bhattiâ€ť, said its rector.