The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in a statement signed by the CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, urged all Filipinos to pray for the victims at Lahore and claimed that the Church has seemingly entered a new era of persecution.
“Sadly it seems that the Church has entered a new era of persecution – for this is not the first time that Christians are the objects of vicious attacks and atrocious acts of cruelty that, in the past, included beheading and crucifixion,” the statement read.
The statement, released March 30, cited the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore, Pakistan as clearly aimed at the killing and maiming of Christians. The said bombing reportedly killed 65 people, mostly women and children, and injured 300 others. A Taliban splinter group claimed the attack and targeted Christians celebrating Easter in the crowded Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.
The CBCP also urged the Filipino Catholics to continue praying for Christians everywhere “who are once more called on to profess their faith by making the supreme sacrifice.” The statement also maintained: “What enables [Christians] to bear all this, including the threat of death, is our invincible faith captured by the proclamation of the Easter faith: ‘He is risen.’”
In the light of all the different attacks on Christians, the CBCP reminded the Filipino Catholics that “As Christians, we hate none, not even those who have caused the spilling of so much innocent blood, who continue to brandish their weapons and threaten us as we live our faith.” The official organization of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines also added that Christians must continue in all earnestness to work for a just society and not be silenced in preaching the truth that God has revealed to them.
The statement highlighted the lead of Pope Francis in “throwing open the doors of our hearts, our lives, our institutions…to people of all races and all beliefs.” CBCP also stated that the gestures of the Roman Catholic pontiff “have not been token gestures. His daily acts of kindness, mercy and understanding are a living witness to the world that it is love that truly conquers.”
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church with more than 1 billion members. In the Philippines, about 75% of its population is adherents of the Christian faith, making it one of the largest Catholic countries in the world.