Pope Reaches Out to Pakistan Bomb Blast Victims

By John Pontifex

pope-unNEW YORK—Victims of the Easter Sunday Pakistan bomb blast have received a personal message of sympathy from the Pope.  Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described how he was going from bed to bed visiting the wounded in a local hospital when he received a call on his mobile phone from Vatican officials who said that they had received a message from Pope Francis.

In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic Archbishop Shaw spoke of his “delight” to receive the phone call about the Pope’s message, which was conveyed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Archbishop Shaw said: “There were so many wounded and others we wanted to see and I was getting very tired and then I suddenly got this phone call from the nunciature in Islamabad [the Pakistan capital].”

“I was told that the Secretary of State had phoned the nunciature to say that the Holy Father is praying for the people who are suffering and that he personally wanted to send them his good wishes.”

“I have to say it was a very timely call. There were more than 100 people I was visiting and they were so pleased to know that the Pope had them in mind – not just the Christians but the Muslims too. Many Muslims were also victims of the blast.”

Reflecting on his visits to the wounded in Lahore’s Sheikh Zaid and Jinnah Hospitals, Archbishop Shaw said: “It was very, very difficult to console them. We had no words to offer them.”

He described one family including a woman who had lost her husband and a child in the blast and whose other children, aged four and six, had been badly injured.

Archbishop Shaw said: “The woman herself was injured and she was not able to take part in the funerals of her husband and child.”

The archbishop, a Franciscan, also stated: “One mother lost her two children and husband. “She was a guest and came to Lahore from Sanghar. The mother will go back to her home without her husband and children. [There are] no words to console her.”

He added: “In this depressing and traumatic situation we are still preaching and consoling our faithful with the words of Jesus after the Resurrection: ‘Peace be with you.’”

Pakistan is a priority country for Aid to the Church in Need, which supports victims of persecution as well as Mass stipends for priests, support for Sisters, training for seminarians, catechesis and other Christian education including Child’s Bibles, Catholic media and evangelisation work and construction of churches.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org