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Pakistani Christians honor bishop who committed suicide to protest blasphemy laws

May 10, 2012

Christians in Faisalabad, Pakistan, gathered at the city’s cathedral for a memorial Mass honoring Bishop John Joseph, who took his own life in 1998 in a protest against the country’s blasphemy laws.

More than 600 people gathered to honor the “martyr bishop,” with Father Khalid Rashid Asi, the vicar general of the Faisalabad, presiding at the memorial Mass.

Bishop Joseph’s case is problematical because he committed suicide. In his effort to call attention the suffering of Christians who are targeted for blasphemy prosecution, the bishop shot himself in the courtroom where a Christian man had recently been convicted and sentenced to death on questionable charges. Friends of the bishop say that he was suffering from depression at the time of his death.


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  • Posted by: mateskub8508 - May. 10, 2012 11:12 PM ET USA

    True he is not a martyr. Even though a man had just been sentenced to death and he himself was depressed; they should pray for him, rather than honor him... I hope when I die someone will pray for me (I can profit from that) instead of honoring me (I can't profit from that).

  • Posted by: ColmCille - May. 10, 2012 6:40 PM ET USA

    A bishop commits an objective mortal sin and is called a martyr? I pray there are circumstances which reduce or eliminate his culpability, but he is not a martyr. I hope that error will be corrected. It's yet another sign of the sad ignorance into which many Catholics have fallen. Catholics once thought that suicide was an automatic ticket to hell (which it is, IF done w/ full knowledge and choice); even the worst Catholics wouldn't do it. Now, "suicide for Christ" is martyrdom? God have mercy!