“Christians in Pakistan, when we think of the Western world, we think of you as our elder brothers and sisters in the faith, as the center of Christianity,” expresses Father Faryadd*, reflecting the heart of countless believers in the nation.
On August 16th, in the town of Jaranwala, a spark of unfounded blasphemy accusations against Saleem Masih, an illiterate Christian, ignited a wildfire of violence. This wave of aggression found its primary target in the churches and homes of Christians in the Jaranwala area. Four churches and three chapels were razed to the ground. The homes of countless Christians were vandalized or destroyed. But amidst this darkness, there emerged rays of hope, with many fleeing families being sheltered by Muslim neighbors, shocked by the unjustified rage.
The day following this heinous attack saw a deployment of law enforcement officers with promises of an inquiry into the incident. Yet, beyond the material destruction, the emotional and psychological scars run deep. Many church leaders and members have spoken out sharing their stories, anguish, and hopes. Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi pointedly observed that such incidents reveal the harrowing reality of Christians being treated as “second-class citizens.”
Yet, the heart of the Christian community in Pakistan remains undeterred. As declared by the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, August 20th was marked as a special Day of Prayer, imploring God’s peace and unity. This spirit of resilience and faith was palpably felt as Msgr. Indrias Rehmat celebrated Mass amidst the rubble of the devastated St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Jaranwala. In his message, he assured the faithful, tried and tested by adversity, of God’s enduring presence.
Supportive efforts to aid the displaced families are in motion. Organizations such as The Pontifical Mission Societies USA have begun raising funds in support of local Christians which will be distributed through missionaries working on the ground.
The incident in Jaranwala is not just a fleeting news headline but a reminder of the urgent need to foster harmony and understanding among religious communities. As Father Jamil Albert observes, many Christians now live “in constant fear, uncertainty, and a state of shock.”
In the face of this heart-wrenching reality, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith fervently calls upon the global community to pray for Christians in Pakistan. In their strength and resilience, they shine as beacons of faith, but they need our spiritual and material support. We urge every individual to intercede for these persecuted Christians – that they may find the strength to rebuild, the grace to forgive, and the hope to envision a more inclusive and peaceful Pakistan.
In the words of Father Faryadd, “We ask that you value and appreciate [your freedom of faith]. And that you continue to pray for us and help us.”
Let our prayers be their strength.
*His last name is omitted for safety reasons.
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