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
Protesters urge rethink of blasphemy laws
Critics say impending trial of mentally disabled girl shows rules are being abusedThe cleric at this mosque near Rimsha Masih's house called for local people to take revenge against her family
- ucanews.com reporter, Karachi
- August 27, 2012
Organized by the All Pakistan Christian League, the 50 or so protesters accused authorities of misusing Pakistanâ€™s strict blasphemy laws after Rimsha Masih, variously reported to be aged between 10 and 16, was arrested after being found with burned pages of a religious textbook containing verses from the Qu'ran in a Christian slum in Islamabad on August 16.
â€śWe demand a judicial inquiry for those who file blasphemy charges against an illiterate child,â€ť said Salamat Akhtar, chairman of the league.
Masihâ€™s lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, has said that Masih is mentally ill, although a police official has denied this and added that she is 16 years old.
A medical board is due to verify the status of the girl, including her age, in coming days.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said â€śIt is worth checking the facts â€¦ before asserting a sacred text has been the object of scornâ€ť in an interview on Vatican Radio at the weekend.
Other groups, including the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference, have urged Pakistan to rethink its blasphemy laws which remain among the strictest in the world with harsh punishments extending to the death penalty in certain cases.
Many politicians in the country are fearful of addressing the legislation head on after critics including the former governor of Punjab and minister for minorities were assassinated last year for their opposition to blasphemy laws.
First created during the British colonial era and later strengthened by the military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s, more than 60 people accused of blasphemy have since been burned alive by mobs.
The Catholic Bishopâ€™s National Commission said in a statement on Friday that â€śa fair debate would only be possible if the threat of violence is removed to allow civilized discourse.â€ť
Meanwhile, Christian families who fled the Mehrabad area of Karachi for fear of a backlash by the majority Muslim population have returned to their homes after a cleric had called for reprisals against Masihâ€™s family over the loud-speaker system of the nearby mosque.
Arif Masih, who is not related to the girl, said his locks were broken and items were stolen from his home.
â€śStill, it is great coming back,â€ť he said, after spending nine days in temporary shelter.
Activist seeks release of girl jailed for blasphemy