Christians in Pakistan living between hope and fear

by Matthias Böhnke

The Catholic Church in Pakistan is important for the country, says Reinhard Backes. He recently visited Pakistan for the fourth time as permanent section leader of the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), in order to inform himself about the situation of the Christians and the projects that ACN supports. “With more than 200 million inhabitants, Pakistan is in sixth place on the list of the most populous countries,” he explained on his return. “Although the overwhelming majority of the population are Muslims and only some two per cent are Christians, they still amount to at least three million people in the country.”

ACN 20190725 89624 Easy Resize

A visit to St. John Paul II Parish in Zia Mosque area Pakistan. Photographer: Reinhard Backes
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

In Pakistan, a Catholic widow cries out for justice in wake of husband’s murder

by Sanawar Salam

Lubna Safdar is a young Catholic widow in Sarghoda, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. She is the mother of a two-year-old son, Sharon. She told Aid to the Church in Need about her suffering in the wake of the murder of her husband, Safdar Masih, and the failure of authorities to launch a timely investigation of the crime—evidence of the second-class status of Christians in the country. Christians in Pakistan are mostly very poor and have few opportunities to advance economically; their needs and rights are routinely ignored by authorities, while textbooks in state-run schools denigrate their faith. This is Lubna’s story:

ACN 20190827 90820 Easy Resize

Failure of authorities to launch a timely investigation of the crime is evidence of the second-class status Christians face in the country.
Image copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

 

Sri Lanka: Psychological and pastoral aid for victims of the attacks

ACN supports Church trauma programmes

by Maria Lozano.

The international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is supporting the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka in its efforts to assist the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place on Easter Sunday. In April of this year, Islamist suicide bombers claimed the lives of almost 300 people and injured more than 500 in three Christian churches as well as three hotels. Thanks to a large wave of solidarity throughout the country and from the Sri Lankan diaspora living abroad, as well as immediate relief measures from parts of the government, it has been possible to quickly rebuild the two Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Colombo that had been destroyed during the attacks.

ACN 20190725 89589 Easy Resize

Fr. Jude Raj with victims, St. Anthony´s Shrine. Photographer: Stephan Baier. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

In Aleppo, Syria, a teenager drew on his faith to make it through the darkest days of the civil war

Piter Essa, 17, graduated from High School in Aleppo, Syria, this spring. Piter, who is Syriac Orthodox, recounts to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) some of his painful experiences of the fighting of the past eight years:

“I’ve survived this awful war, and I live my life like I used to. My school didn’t close at all, so I was able to continue with my studies; I graduated from High School this year.

“I was separated from many friends who were forced to flee. I personally experienced violence in the forms of mortars and missiles, which did physical and psychological damage. I tried to remain strong for my loved ones: I had their backs, and I told them that everything would be okay, but I didn’t fully believe that myself.

ACN 20190723 89515 Easy Resize

Piter Essa, 17, graduated from High School in Aleppo, Syria, this spring.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

August 22: First UN World Day for Victims of Religious Persecution

Aid to the Church in Need estimates that one in five Christians in the world live in countries where there is persecution or religious discrimination.

On August 22 the UN, for the first time, will dedicate this day in remembrance for the victims of religiously motivated violence.

The resolution was passed on May 28 after the proposal of Poland, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

This initiative is widely applauded by organizations that are aware of the anguish suffered by religious minorities in intolerant countries.  

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