Catholic Minister Assassinated

Church leaders around the world expressed their distress at the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minorities. Gunmen ambushed Bhatti’s car in broad daylight in the capital, Islamabad, on March 2. Bhatti, the cabinet’s only Christian minister, had received death threats for urging reform to Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesperson, said: “The assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti shows how right the Pope is in his persistent remarks concerning violence against Christians and against religious freedom in general. Bhatti was the first Catholic to hold such an office. We recall how he...bore witness to his own commitment to peaceful coexistence among the religious communities of his country. Our prayers for the victim, our condemnation for this unspeakable act of violence, our closeness to Pakistani Christians who suffer hatred are accompanied by an appeal that everyone may become aware of the urgent importance of defending both religious freedom and Christians who are subject to violence and persecution.”

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