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Letter to Pakistani churches after Lahore bomb attacks

Letter from the WCC general secretary to Pakistani churches, following attackes on churches in Lahores, addressed to Bishop Samuel R. Azariah and Rev. Arif Masih Siraj.

17 March 2015

I write these words of condolence and solidarity with a heavy heart on learning of the bombing attacks that took place in Lahore yesterday targeting two specific churches. The tragic loss of life from these deplorable acts of violence targeting the Christian community in Pakistan reveals once again the tremendous challenges and heavy sacrifice Christians bear as they strive to remain faithful to the gospel values of life, justice and peace. Further, these attacks demonstrate the worsening situation for religious freedom, human rights and dignity in Pakistan.

While the attacks themselves did not target a congregation from the Church of Pakistan, the continued violence against Christians in Pakistan is a cause of concern as they follow many similar attacks, including the suicide bombing in a church in Peshawar in 2013 which resulted in more than 80 deaths. The World Council of Churches condemns all such violence against people and communities on the basis of their religious identity, and calls upon the government of Pakistan to act swiftly in bringing the perpetrators to justice. We further call upon the government to put in place more robust measures to protect the Christian and other minority communities in Pakistan, to prevent similar acts of violence in the future, and to ensure freedom of religion and all fundamental human rights for all people in Pakistan.

As the Christian communities in Pakistan unite in this time of trial and tribulation, may your perseverance be strengthened and may you be consoled and comforted by the words of the Psalmist who declares, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.” Psalm 34:19-20

With greetings of solidarity in Christ,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary