During a special inter-religious prayer service in Lahore on April 13, Catholic Archbishop Lawrence J. Saldanha of Lahore informed the participants that the Bishop’s Conference of Pakistan have written to the Holy Father to recognize the martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, and include his name among the martyrs of the faith.
On March 2, 2011, Bhatti, 42, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, was killed by some unknown assassins in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. He had received numerous death threats from religious fanatics in recent months. Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the cabinet, was allegedly killed by militants because he had been campaigning to bring changes in the controversial Blasphemy Law to minimize its misuse against innocent people, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis – and Muslims of all sects.
The Justice and Peace Commission’s Lahore Region of the Major Superiors Leadership Conference of Pakistan organized the service at Sacred Heart Cathedral Lahore for Bhatti. Along with the members and clergy of the Catholic Church, representatives of the Church of Pakistan, the Presbyterian Church and Bahai Faith were also present.
In the beginning of the service, Fr. Abid Habib OFM Cap., the president of the Major Superiors of Catholic religious organizations, said, while remembering Bhatti, the purpose of this prayer service is to convey to the government that we can no longer remain silent and it is time for us to adopt peaceful means, search and implement the solutions of these issues in order to foster peace and harmony in the country.
Mrs..Najmi Saleem, Christian Member of Punjab Assembly, stressed on the unity among the minorities especially among the Christians.
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