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Pakistan’s bishops react to bin Laden’s death; schools closed, churches guarded

Catholic World News - May 03, 2011

Amid security fears, Christian schools and other institutions closed in Pakistan following the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden. Additional police have been placed around churches in cities across the country.

“They have put us on alert, calling for the closure of our institutions and placing more police personnel in front of churches,” said Father Mario Rodrigues, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan. “Christians in Pakistan are innocent victims, even in this situation: any excuse is good to threaten or to attack.”

In Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden had apparently lived quietly for several years, a small Catholic community was on high alert after the US raid. The pastor of St. Peter Canisius church cancelled several services, and four police were on guard outside the building.

“I had two meetings with the civil and military authorities to discuss security measures to Christian sites in South Punjab, after the death of bin Laden,” added Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan. “What I brought to them was the example of Blessed John Paul II, a man of dialogue, peace, role model for Muslim-Christian relations in Pakistan.”

“Today it is important for us to point out his shining example of openness to others, dialogue with Islam, recognized and appreciated by Pakistani Muslims to stop any fundamentalist drift and any attempt to incite hatred among religious communities,” he added.

“In the soul of a Christian there is never joy for the death of a man, even if he is an enemy,” said Archbishop Anthony Rufin of Islamabad. “On the occasion of the death of bin Laden I would like to remind the supreme commandment of the Christian message: love your enemies.”

“I would also like to express our absolute respect for Islam and all Muslims of Pakistan,” he added. “We are called by God's will to live in this country and do good in this country. We live our vocation and mission with faith and hope, even in difficult situations.”

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