In a deadly double attack, more than 20 people have reportedly been killed and more than 75 are injured, many severely. Most of the victims are from the two churches; a few were security guards and other local people.
The Most Revd Samuel Azariah, Moderator of The Church of Pakistan (United), has strongly condemned the bombings, which were perpetrated against two churches in the Youhanabad area of Lahore.
Bishop Azariah called the attack on Christ Church and St John’s Catholic Church a “cowardly and inhuman act of terrorists against a religious minority in Pakistan.”
Bishop Azariah has called for prayer and urged all Christian denominations in Pakistan to “stand united at this time of trial and difficulty”. “We shall overcome through our love and kindness upon those who believe in evil and inhuman acts,” he said.
The Rt Revd Irfan Jamil, Bishop of Lahore Diocese, visited the injured in hospital earlier today. Afterwards he spoke with staff at the Anglican Communion Office, including the Anglican Alliance. Bishop Jamil said that a joint funeral service was being planned for Tuesday in Lahore to be held together with the Roman Catholic Church.
“I thank the Anglican Communion for its support and encouragement at this difficult time,” Bishop Jamil said. “Please continue to pray for us now and in the challenging times ahead. And please pray for security at the funeral service.”
Commenting on the need for protection, Bishop Azariah highlighted the responsibility of the State to provide security to all people and especially to those who were weak, marginalised and vulnerable.
The Rt Revd Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar Diocese, also spoke by phone today, reflecting back on the deadly attack on a church in his own diocese two years ago: “It is devastating, especially when the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered every [provincial] government to give extra security to Christian institutions and places of worship – but this has not yet been implemented.”
Bishop Peters is a Board Member of the Anglican Alliance. When asked what message he would like to give through the Alliance, he said: “Please keep the Church in Pakistan in your very special prayers for its survival and to maintain its identity. Please also consider supporting the families of the injured people.”
The Anglican Alliance will remain in close touch with the Church in Pakistan as the leaders consult with their communities to consider how they will move forward from these attacks and how the affected families and communities can be assisted. The Bishop of Lahore suggests that this will need to include trauma counselling.
Share your prayers for Pakistan on the prayer wall of the Anglican Communion website: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/community/prayer-wall.aspx
Pictured: Bishop Humphrey Peters visits victims of the bombing of All Saint’s Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2013.