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 tackle post-9/11 tensions
Anti-Christian sentiment has risen with anti-Americanism but progress is being made, some experts sayThis convent was rebuilt after being damaged in anti-Christian violence in 2005
- ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
- May 14, 2012
Sparked by the September 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan, anti-Christian sentiment in Pakistan has risen over the past decade. Many churches have been attacked, especially in the last five years, said participants at a Faith in Context seminar jointly organized by the Theological Institute for the Laity and the Presbyterian Church.
"Many Church leaders agree that Pakistani society identifies Christians with America and Hindus with India," said Javed William, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishopâ€™s Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism.
The killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May further fueled anti-US sentiments, which found an outlet against local Christians, who prefer western culture and clothing.
"We had to speed up a sincere dialogue, especially with Muslims, after 9/11. It is crucial for our survival,"Â saidÂ William. "Minority Christians cannot afford any confrontation with the majority."
Christian leaders have developed a new, two-pronged approach to interfaith dialogue: reaching out directly to hardliner clerics and approaching Muslims at the grassroots level.
Community-based, peace-building programs have become more important, said Romana Bashir, head of programs at the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi, near Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was found.
"We have bracketed areas, especially in Punjab province, where anti-Christian violence has surfaced in recent years," she said.
But, she says, better Muslim-Christian relations in the area are developing.
"A few madrasas [Islamic schools] are nowÂ admitting Christians to their computer courses," Bashir said. "Several hardliner clericsÂ areÂ friendlier; one even offeredÂ to register Christian girls for their ongoing collective matrimony services for poor couples. Hope is alive."
Book tackles thorny blasphemy issue