He also recorded a video to be released in the event of his death.
“I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of ‘cross,’ and I follow Him to the cross,” Bhatti said.
Cardinal O’Brien said it would be “wonderful” to think that Bhatti could become “a patron for justice and peace in Pakistan or indeed Asia.”
In March 2011, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan unanimously decided to make a formal request that the Vatican name Bhatti as a “martyr and patron of religious freedom.”
Archbishop Saldanha said there are plans to build a monument to Bhatti in his native village of Khushpur, calling it “a permanent memorial to a brave and selfless leader, who rose to the highest office possible for a Christian.”
With the cooperation of Aid to the Church in Need, the British Pakistani Christian Association is organizing a March 10 peace rally and concert in London to commemorate the anniversary of Bhatti’s death and to call for changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Two events in Rome on March 2 also marked the anniversary.
At the Pontifical Lateran University, Bhatti biographer Francesca Milano presented her Italian-language biography of the slain Christian, “Death of a Blasphemer.”
"I discovered a man very in love with his nation, with the people of his nation, in spite of the difficulties,” Milano told CNA at the university. “Nevertheless, Shahbaz Bhatti wasn't afraid of these problems. He was a man who threw himself into confronting them. And he didn't only help Christians, he wanted to do well also for others and this was a fantastic thing.”
Bhatti was “such a phenomenal person” for the country that Pakistan’s Muslims also recognized his quality.
“It's not a question of religion, it's an operational question, a question of what he did for his nation, for the poorest, for the desperate,” she continued.
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Milano cited his work to help those in need during disastrous earthquakes and floods. During one flood, Bhatti heard of a family trapped in their home. He went to their house and personally waded through mud and water to bring the children and then the parents to safety.
Bhatti’s brother Paul, now a special counselor to the Ministry for Minorities, is “carrying forward his brother’s fight,” a fact Milano called “a sign of hope.”
Prof. Mobeen Shahid, a Pontifical Lateran University professor who was a personal friend of Bhatti, said he was “martyred for his faith.
He was “faithful and coherent” in both his personal testimony and in his politics.
“It's not easy being coherent as a Christian and it's that much more difficult to do so in the political arena.”
“Unfortunately, he was killed and is no longer with us, but his beautiful words should be an example for us all so that we can always look at the Gospel and try to imitate that message in our lives,” Shahid told CNA.