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Pakistan: prelate decries burning of Pope in effigy

Catholic World News - February 03, 2011

Pakistan’s leading prelate, Archbishop Lawrence Saldhana of Lahore, decried the burning of Pope Benedict in effigy during a January 30 demonstration by 40,000 Islamic militants. The protestors also burned the cross and burned the effigy of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who serves as the nation’s minister for minorities.

“The Islamic radicals have attacked the Pope, accusing him of interfering in the life of the country,” the archbishop said. “They burned his effigy and the cross. For that we are very sorry. As faithful Christians this wounds us. We dissociate ourselves from every act of violence, and we demand respect for all sacred symbols, whatever their religion.”

“Minister Bhatti is experiencing a very difficult time, targeted by extremists,” he added. “On behalf of all Christians in Pakistan, we wish to express to the minister our complete solidarity and gratitude for his social and political commitment to defending religious minorities.”

The nation of 162.4 million is 0.7% Catholic, according to Vatican statistics. 77% of Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims, while 20% are Shia Muslims.

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