Rawalpindi (Agenzia Fides) – New alerts in the Pakistani Catholic community: the Catholic church of St Thomas, in the town of Wah Canntt, about 50 km from Rawalpindi, was attacked by a groups armed men last night, Monday 28 March, which resulted in damages.
According to te account sent to Fides by the local parish priest, Fr Yusaf Amanat, about 6.30 pm a group of six armed men broke in to the Church's courtyard, throwing rocks at the lamps and windows, trying to force open the church door. An attendant, alarmed by the noise, warned the parish priest and the police. The attackers, who were not able to force the door, instead, tried to set him on fire, then fled.
The priest told Fides about his concern about these acts of intimidation, which are perhaps related to the recent episode of the burning of the Koran by Pastor Terry Jones in the U.S..
The Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Archbishop Anthony Rufin, told Fides: “Shortly after the accident I went there. I met the police and asked for more protection for churches. I was able to comfort and console the faithful in this time of suffering. We, as Pastors, are called to be close to our community. Therefore, as the Bishops of Pakistan, we have written a joint pastoral letter to encourage our people to remain firm in faith and hope. We continue to trust in God and in the Pakistani institutions.”
Christians in Rawalpindi report that a few days ago the police called in Christian leaders to discuss safety measures, in view of Easter. Fides Local sources note that the town is known for a large arms factory run by the Armed Forces and is therefore tightly controlled. It is therefore quite remarkable that a group of armed men were able to make the attack unhindered.
Fides sources note that this is the third attack against churches in Pakistan within a week, “an indication of a climate of intimidation against religious minorities. The extremists look for pretexts to attack Christians. We live in a state of insecurity, fear and suffering. The Government should bring these issues to the top of its agenda.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/3/2011)