Catholic bishop in Pakistan relieved by reported cancelation of Quran burning

Bishop Joseph Coutts
Bishop Joseph Coutts


Christians in Pakistan were relieved to hear that a Florida pastor has canceled his plans to burn a Quran. Such an incident could have major consequences for Christians in the predominantly Muslim country, a Catholic bishop has explained.

In an interview with ACN News, Bishop of Faisalabad Joseph Coutts reacted to reports that the pastor of a small Florida Protestant church canceled the Quran burning.

“It is a relief to hear what has now happened,” he said after learning of the decision not to burn the book. “We need to remember the difference between talking about burning the Quran and actually carrying it out.”

He said the burning of the Quran would light a match, “potentially causing a lot of damage.”

“If he were to burn the Quran, we would have to pay the price,” he added, warning it would have severe consequences for local Christians.

“Muslims have huge respect for the Quran and there is always the risk that the emotional reaction of people here would be to hit out at the nearest Christian,” he told ACN News.

Because of concerns about possible retribution, the bishop held a series of meetings late into the night with police chiefs and Muslim leaders to stave off the threat of possible anti-Christian violence.

He also met with Christian leaders of Faisalabad. He reported that they agreed to reach out to disgruntled Muslims by advancing plans to greet Islamic leaders and to mark the Islamic festival of Eid with banners and gifts.

Bishop Coutts noted widespread anti-U.S. feeling in Pakistan. He compared the planned burning to a Protestant walking into a Catholic church at the height of conflict in Northern Ireland and desecrating the Blessed Sacrament.

His concerns have been heightened by increased Muslim sensitivity and religiosity coinciding with the beginning of Eid, ACN News reports.

There was widespread outrage in the region in 2005 and 2006 over the media controversy about cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. In February 2006 arsonists attacked a number of churches. St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the city of Sukkur was reduced to a blackened shell.

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