Pakistani Catholics encouraged by Pope’s concern, Bhatti legacy remembered
Pope Benedict XVI and Mrs. Ayesha Riyaz
Pope Benedict XVI and Mrs. Ayesha Riyaz
By Alan Holdren
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Pope Benedict XVI expressed his concern for the protection of human dignity and religious freedom again this week as Pakistani Catholics recalled the legacy of murdered government minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

Father Shahzad Niamat, a Pakistani priest, was among the parish priests of the Diocese of Rome present for a traditional Lenten audience with Pope Benedict on March 10. He represented the Pakistani clergy and religious in the diocese as he spoke briefly with the Pope to inform him of their situation.

“We explained to the Pope the situation of Christians in Pakistan, where to witness to the faith can sometimes lead to death,” Fr. Niamat told Fides news.

“The Holy Father seemed very concerned,” he said. “He expressed his solidarity and his support and assured us of his prayers.”

The priest also thanked the Pope for his words in support of the Church and religious freedom in Pakistan after the assassination of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti on March 2.

“The Holy Father communicated to us his hope that things may change and that in Pakistan there may be full respect for human dignity and religious freedom. He gave us his blessing,” concluded Fr. Niamat.

Pakistan's ambassador to the Holy See, Mrs. Ayesha Riyaz told CNA that the legacy of Bhatti lives on in Pakistan's government. His assassination “is something that across the board, all of us have felt deeply and we have endured and we have condemned,” she said.

“He was a remarkable man with a very good heart who did a lot of good things.”

“I think he is a man who has a legacy, and that legacy is for interfaith harmony and interfaith dialogue. And, I think that legacy will continue and we are all committed to it,” said Riyaz on March 10.

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari said that, “Bhatti's sacrifice for the Country, for religious minorities, to promote inter-religious harmony and tolerance will not be in vain and will be remembered for long to come.”

Fides reported the declaration after a March 8 meeting with Bhatti's mother, four brothers and sister.

In a resolution adopted at the European Parliament on March 10, diplomats condemned the assassination and called for the appointment “without delay” of a new, “strong and impartial minority representative to take his place.”

They also urged a thorough investigation of the “brutal murder” and warned that the “next candidate for murder” could be former Pakistani minister, Sherry Rehman, for whom a death order has reportedly been issued by extremists.

A candidate favored to assume the murdered Bhatti's role at the head of the Ministry for Minority Affairs is his brother, Paul Bhatti, a surgeon. He has already been elected to succeed his brother as the director of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

Ambassador Riyaz did not exclude the possible succession. The younger Bhatti's candidacy must first go through the election commission.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 26, 2015

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 3:22-30


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 3:22-30