Christian church attacked in Pakistan


A Catholic church was attacked by a mob over more than 600 Muslim radicals who devastated the churchyard, but did not manage to penetrate the front door of St Francis Catholic Church in Karachi. The two priests, Fr. Victor Mohan and Fr. Albert Jamil, OFM, and the nuns who work there "are afraid, they fear more attacks, but trust in the Providence of God," according to a report by the FIDES news agency. St Francis parish is the oldest in the Catholic diocese of Karachi.
The episode, which has been condemned by the Christian community in Karachi, took place on the evening of October 12. A Catholic priest reported, "Fr. Victor had just finished celebrating a wedding, when he heard noises and shouting from the compound of the church. Immediately all the faithful, women and children were sent to the parish house. The radicals, shouting against the Christians, broke into the building and started devastating everything: cars, bikes, vases of flowers. They broke an aedicule and took the statue of the Madonna. They tried to force the door of the church, throwing stones at the church and destroying the windows "
The acts of vandalism continued for an hour, then the police arrived, the crowd dispersed. It is theorized that the attack may be a reaction to an anti-Islamic film made in the United States or may be related to Christians' demands for an end to the prosecution of Islamic blasphemy laws against them.
In the days following, Christians organized public protests, led by Catholic Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, with the participation of hundreds of priests, nuns, lay people, members of the Justice and Peace Commission and other human rights activists. The protesters gathered peacefully and prayed for peace and tolerance for all religions. Said Archbishop Coutts,  "The church of Saint Francis has always served the poor with a school and a medical clinic run by nuns. For nearly 80 years it carries out a humble service to humanity without any discrimination of caste, ethnicity or religion. Why these acts? Why are we not safe? ".
Archbishop Coutts called for the protection of the government and invited all Pakistani citizens "to respect all religions, so that we may live in harmony and peace." Following their specific charism of dialogue and tolerance, the members of the Franciscan order in Karachi are collaborating with various human rights organizations and Muslim leaders in many fields of social service.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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