In Christ’s Passion, redemption of the suffering of Pakistani Christians *Syria: Easter cancelled in Homs after churches bombed

April 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia, Pakistan, Persecution, Syria

Pakistan, April 07, 2012: All over the country the minority participated in Holy Week religious functions, the Way of the Cross yesterday. Bishop of Islamabad: look to the Cross on Calvary as the place for relief from suffering. Throughout Lent, the faithful promoted charitable activities and Bible study.

In Christ’s sufferings of the Passion and death on the Cross, Christians in Pakistan and around the world find an answer to the suffering and violence of every day, the bishop of Islamabad / Rawalpindi Mgr. Rufin Anthony tells AsiaNews, on Good Friday which precedes the Easter of Resurrection. The local minority is the victim of persecution and targeted attacks, which are the cause of death and marginalization. However, in the difficulties experienced by Jesus in the last hours of his life Christians can find the strength to overcome their suffering. This is why all the parishes and churches in the country promoted a three-hour adoration and prayer, with readings, passages from the Bible, sermons and hymns, then – in the afternoon – the Way of the Cross.

The Bishop of Islamabad recalls that the two most important moments of Christian faith are “Christmas and Easter, celebrating the birth and resurrection of the Messiah […] who died and rose again to give us eternal life.” Msgr. Anthony explains that Christ was a master of “tolerance, forgiveness, peace, and now it is up to us to continue his work.” The prelate added that Easter is an “opportunity to work together with other communities and promote religious harmony.” In the drama of the Passion on Good Friday, he concludes, we see the suffering taking place in the world and that “where else to look there best, if not to the Cross [of Christ] on Calvary.”

The Holy Week celebrations were attended by many faithful in every city of Pakistan. Each parish sponsored meetings, meditations, Masses and prayers. Saqib Masih, a Christian from Lahore, said he had fasted for the whole of Lent and Good Friday, giving up “everything that was not necessary.”

Sadia John, from Islamabad, said that in a time of penance and Lent, the Christian community has sponsored retreats, spiritual exercises, listening to the liturgy and activities of charitable and missionary animation. “I myself gave birth to a project – he tells AsiaNews – to ensure the schooling of children of the slums, without charge, during Lent. The project will continue in the future.”

– asianews

Syria: Easter cancelled in Homs after churches bombed


Syria, April 10, 2012: For the first time in centuries no services were held to mark the festival of Easter in Christian churches of war-torn Homs as the Syria government inflicted a heavy bombardment in defiance of UN-brokered ceasefire talks.

Plans for a negotiated end to fighting appeared on the verge collapse yesterday amid widespread violence and a new unilateral demand from the government for “written guarantees” from its opponents to lay down weapons.

The three principal churches for Christian denominations in the city, which until a few months ago was home to Syria’s third largest Christian community, were virtually abandoned. Other small churches have been destroyed as private homes became the places of worship on Sunday with priests and locals gathering in secret.

All are located in districts have been left devastated by weeks of heavy shelling.

“There is no celebration. For one week, there have been no sounds coming from the churches or the mosques,” said Saleem, a resident speaking from his home in Homs Old City, where most of the churches are located.

“Government forces have shelled the area this morning. It is too dangerous to go outside”.

Homs at Easter used to be a tapestry of colourful parades, said Dima Moussa, a member of the Syrian National Council who recalled years of festive visits to her family in Homs as a young woman.

“You could feel Easter across the whole city. Everybody would put on their best clothes, a the children would parade around their church playing instruments,” said Dima. “We painted boiled eggs and brought them to Church to be blessed.”

“It is a family occasion. Everyone would visit their relatives, bringing with them colourful eggs and chocolate for the children. My grandparents would put on huge meals, often a whole sheep, for the whole family”.

Two weeks ago Moussa’s relatives fled from Homs as government forces began shelling the Christian neighbourhoods of Hamidiyah and Boustan al-Diwan where they lived. Videos of the area show streets riddled with debris, and concrete buildings shattered by shells and bullet holes.

“The windows of my grandfather’s home were shattered by shelling,” said Moussa. “The regime doesn’t care anymore, they are targeting all neighbourhoods, and mosques and churches.”

“It is too dangerous to go to Church, as the regime is even shelling these,” said Saif al Arab, an activist in Homs who claimed to be in contact with Christians in his neighbourhood. “There is not enough food for them to celebrate in the traditional way. This is not a celebration, they gathered to pray for the people who have been killed in the bombardments”.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI implored Damascus to heed international demands to end the bloodshed. He said: “Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community.”

– telegraph

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