Church in Pakistan mourns death of children

Church leaders in Pakistan, including Karachi Archbishop Joseph Coutts, have joined in raising voices against the Peshawar school massacre, in which Taliban militants killed 132 children and nine staff on Dec. 16.

Archbishop Coutts requested all churches to “celebrate Christmas in a somber manner as a mark of respect for all victims of terror attacks.” In a statement, the prelate strongly condemned the brutal attack and urged all Church schools and institutions to observe a minute of silence.

He also urged the government, political parties, religious leaders and all citizens to stand united against such a tragic massacre. He further requested the government to “take effective measures in providing security to the schools and other such institutions throughout Pakistan that are soft targets for the terrorists.”

About 50 staff members of Caritas Pakistan attended a somber prayer service at National Secretariat in Lahore on Dec. 18, the second day of mourning. Father Joseph Louis, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan in Lahore, headed the prayer along with Amjad Gulzar, executive director, in a hall displayed with placards stating, “We condemn terrorism” and “salute to the little martyrs of Peshawar school.”

Gulzar urged Caritas staff to remain vigilant in the field and to work carefully from the grass roots. “We are in solidarity with the families of the victims,” he said. “There is a dire need of acceptance in our society.”

Those gathered lit candles in memory of the victims and later crowded into the compound of Caritas building. Caritas staff also joined a protest on the evening of Dec. 17 in front of Punjab Assembly Hall, where Gulzar placed candles in front of the pictures of army personnel and children killed in Peshawar. Together with school children at the protest site, the Caritas Pakistan team from the national office raised slogans for peace and justice.

Kamran Chaudhry writes from Pakistan.