UN, inter-faith prayer meeting condemn Pakistan church attack
The United Nations chief has denounced Sunday’s terrorist suicide attack on a Methodist church in Quetta, Pakistan, in which at least 9 were killed and about 60 wounded. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for those behind the incident be held accountable.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Guterres “strongly” condemned the attack which occurred in the city of Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan province. “He calls for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice,” the statement added. Guterres also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
About 400 worshippers were attending Sunday service in Quetta’s Bethel Methodist Church, when two attackers stormed the church, triggering a gun-battle in which one assailant was killed by police and the other opened fire at worshippers and detonated his explosive vest.
Though an Islamic State group has claimed the assault, Pakistan denies the group has an organized network in the country.
A group funeral was held on Monday afternoon after a service by Bishop Sadiq Daniel at Quetta's Christian cemetery. Ministers, government officials and members of civil society groups attended the service.
Inter-faith prayer meeting
Also on Monday, a special interfaith prayer meeting was organized in the cathedral of Lahore in memory of the victims of the attack, Fides, the Vatican’s news agency reported. Participants vowed to remain united and fight the causes of extremism.
The prayer meeting, sponsored by the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC), was presided over by Catholic Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore. Leaders of Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, the Salvation Army as well as many Muslims participated.
The religious leaders condemned the "inhuman attack on innocent Christians who were praying" and prayed for the families of the dead and the wounded. Participants expressed their full solidarity towards the Christians and called on the government "to face the extremist elements and the roots of this intolerance".
Participants lit candles and passed the night in prayer, entrusting the fate of the nation to God and renewing their commitment to build a peaceful social and religious coexistence in Pakistan.
The head of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference has also condemned the attack on Quetta’s Methodist church. CBCP president, Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese described the act as “cowardly and inhumane”. He called on the authorities "to bring those responsible to justice, and to address the root causes of this intolerance." He stressed the urgent need to “strengthen measures for the protection of all citizens, especially during this Christmas period.”