Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken via cell phone to those mourning the victims of suicide bombings of two churches in Lahore, Pakistan, at a funeral service on March 16.
Welly and Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, interim general secretary of the Anglican Communion, had already sent condolences to Bishop Irfan Jamil of Lahore diocese of the Church of Pakistan (United), assuring him of the support and prayers of the Communion following the attacks on Christ Church and St John’s Catholic Church during worship services on Sunday, March 15.
But on Monday, Welby reached Jamil by telephone during the funeral service. Jamil held his phone up to a microphone so that those gathered could hear directly from the archbishop. He translated as Welby spoke to the mourners and prayed for them.
The Church of Pakistan (United) is part of the Anglican Communion, but it is united with several other Pakistani denominations.
Seventeen people were killed in the bombings, and more than 75 were injured in the attacks. The BBC has reported that an offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Jamil thanked the Anglican Communion for its support and encouragement. “Please continue to pray for us now and in the challenging times ahead,” he said.
Bishop Samuel Azariah, the primate of the Church of Pakistan (United), has strongly condemned the bombings as a “cowardly and inhuman act of terrorists against a religious minority in Pakistan.”
Azariah asked for prayer and urged all Christian denominations in Pakistan to stand united in this time of trial and difficulty. “We shall overcome through our love and kindness upon those who believe in evil and inhuman acts,” he said.
Azariah expressed deep concern about security for minorities in Pakistan. He said that it was the responsibility of the state to protect all people, especially those who were weak, marginalized and smaller in number.
In Canada, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at issued a statement condemning the attacks. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these heinous crimes, with their families and with the Christian Community of Pakistan. We stand in solidarity with them and with other minorities against these attacks on the fundamental values of all religions,” the group, which also faces persecution in Pakistan, said in its statement. In 2010, terrorists stormed two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore, during Friday prayers, killing 82 worshippers and injuring many others.The Ahmadiyya statement went on to say that “Islam is also a victim of such attacks: The Holy Quran requires Muslims to stand up in defense of synagogues, churches, cloisters and mosques.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community describes itself as “a dynamic and fast-growing international revival movement within Islam.”