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Pakistan: Cathedral saved from bomb blast

ICC Note: This story about a threatened attack on a cathedral in Pakistan is just now coming out even though the attack was planned for Christmas Day.

By John Pontifex
01/28/09 Pakistan (Aid to the Church in Need) – THOUSANDS of Pakistani Christians narrowly escaped with their lives after a plot to blow up Lahore’s Catholic Cathedral on Christmas Day went wrong with just hours to spare.

But the safety of Sacred Heart Cathedral parish priest Fr Andrew Nisari remains uncertain after he received anonymous threats from Muslim extremists who wrote him a letter demanding that he and his congregation convert to Islam or “face the consequences”.

In a separate development, clergy have expressed growing frustration at reports of continued police inaction following attacks on a village in Lahore diocese which forced almost all the Christians living there to flee for their lives.

Almost two weeks later and with no reports of any arrests taking place, the 100 or more Christians from Kot Lakha Singh village are apparently too afraid to go home. Only six Christian men have stayed behind.

Speaking from Lahore in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Nisari said that six people had now been arrested in connection with the attempted Christmas Day attack on the cathedral after being found with maps and other incriminating evidence.

He said that, on Christmas Eve, a car containing explosives, apparently intended for the cathedral, had gone off – purportedly by mistake – in a roadside about three miles from Lahore. A passer-by was killed who was later identified as a Catholic.
According to Fr Nisari, the six who were arrested have since admitted to intending to detonate the cathedral in the middle of a packed Christmas Day service.

He said: “We are surrounded by threats all the time but thank God so far we have been saved. I preach to the people that they have to be prepared for death. Many of us will die in our beds or in hospital but how wonderful it would be if we died in the house of God.”

Fr Nisari stressed that cathedral Mass-goers refused to be deterred by the threats against them and that it was standing-room only at the services last Christmas with some forced to stand outside.

The priest went on to express dismay at the police’s failure to press charges following the 14th January attacks in Kot Lakha Singh in which fanatics tortured people – including woman and children – at the home of a Christian named William.

But Fr Nisari said that far from being intimidated, the Christians were becoming stronger in their faith and that for example at the clergy’s suggestion, Lahore cathedral parishioners were now each inviting another non-Mass-going family to join them for services.

He said: “Our people are very brave. As the Church is persecuted, people become more conscious of their Faith.” … [Go To Full Story]