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
President decries attack on church
Zardari calls for protection for ChristiansSarhadi Lutheran Church was burned but can be repaired
- ucanews.com reporter, Mardan
- September 24, 2012
Describing the near-destruction of Sarhadi Lutheran Church in Mardan âunfortunate and reprehensible,â Zardari called on provincial authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to protect Christian churches from the continuing backlash by extremist Islamic groups.
âRansacking public and private property, particularly the places of worship of other religions, was itself un-Islamic and highly condemnable,â he said.
Christians yesterday held a Sunday Mass on the site of the 75-year-old church, singing hymns opposite a charred bronze cross placed on the altar while the congregation wore black armbands.
The walls of the church were still covered with slogans spray-painted by the attackers including âAllah Akbarâ and âlove of prophet.â
Zeeshan Chand, 18, said he was lucky to escape being burned alive after police, who were outnumbered by the attackers in a firefight outside, rescued him when he escaped through a back door.
âI was looking for my father, a pastor, when they [the attackers] arrived,â he said. âI was caught and some tried to pour petrol on me.â
Pastor Ghulam Shaad, vice-chairman of the Northern diocese, said the mob that attacked the church, school and bishopâs house also stole a laptop and an air-conditioning unit.
Government engineers have said that the church and school can be repaired but that the bishopâs house must be rebuilt.
âAs humans we ask what have they done? As Christians we forgive them,â said Pastor Shaad.
Samson Simon Sharaf, a politcs and defense analyst, said that the attackers had also burned copies of the Quâran that were in the school and called for a blasphemy case against those responsible.
âAny comment on this is not enough,â he said. âA sincere and peaceful community is being persecuted.â
Sarhadi Lutheran Church was bombed last year and attacked with grenades in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani coalition government has showed signs of divisions over the response to the film which has sparked protests across much of the Muslim world.
Following the announcement on Saturday by Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour that he would offer a personal reward of US$100,000 to anyone who kills the director of the film â named as Californian Coptic Christian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula â the Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the offer.
A spokesman said the bounty was ârepresentative of Mr. Bilourâs personal views and had nothing to do with the official policy of the government of Pakistan.â
Religious leaders urge restraint over film
Church condemns blasphemous movie