By Jaco Klamer

“I don’t understand how people can harm each other so much,” sighs security guard Louis Petrus. Today, Louis has returned to his hometown for the first time: the Christian city of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, which he had to flee on 6 August 2014, when IS occupied the city. “Look at my house: it is damaged, most of my furniture has been stolen and my household effects are broken. Other inhabitants of Qaraqosh had prepared me for what I would find in the city. I had heard stories and seen pictures of the destruction caused by the jihadists. Now that I am seeing the city with my own eyes, I do not know what to feel. The IS terrorists have destroyed a lot of my possessions, but I am still quite well off, considering the damage that I can see in my neighbours’ houses: many houses have been burned or even completely destroyed. I have been blessed.” 

By Joop Koopman

India is a country of more than 1.2 billion people, with Christians accounting for only some 3 percent of the population, including close to 19 million Catholics. Despite its relatively small size, the Indian Church has a disproportionate impact on Indian society through education, its social services and its provision of health care. In recent years, with the ascension to power of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, there has been a rising tide of violent attacks on Christians as well as Muslims. Growing intolerance of faiths considered to be foreign imports adds to the wounds of both Christian and Muslims of low caste background—known as dalits—who are denied government benefits awarded to low-caste Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhist to compensate for centuries of discrimination by the dominant Hindu culture.  

By Murcadha O Flaherty and Josué Villalón

CATHOLIC parents whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in the 2016 Easter Sunday attack at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Pakistan have told Lahore’s Archbishop that they have forgiven the man that killed their child.

By Jaco Klamer

Two months ago Ismail fled the Iraqi city of Mosul with his mother Jandark Behnam Mansour Nassi (55), after they had to survive under the terror of IS for over two years. Ismail and Jandark now live in Erbil, in the Iraqi Kurdish Autonomous Region. Below is their story.

By Josué Villalón

The year 2016 has been a difficult one for Pakistani Christians, during which they suffered one of the worst jihadist attacks last Easter Sunday. An Islamist terrorist blew himself up in the central Gulsan Iqbal Park in Lahore, leaving behind 78 dead and over 300 injured. Yet at the same time it has been a year of hope. The Year of Mercy initiated by Pope Francis has been lived with great intensity by the Catholics of Pakistan. Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore, presides over the largest diocese in Pakistan. A Franciscan and a member of the Order of Friars Minor, he heads a diocese of over 450,000 Catholic faithful in the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab region. He was interviewed by Josué Villalón from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

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