02 March 2016

Fifth Anniversary of the assassination of Catholic politician Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan

شہباز بھٹی
(9 September 1968 - 2 March 2011)

I have blogged about Shahbaz Bhatti quite a  number of times. Here I am using material from previous posts.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Federal Minister for Minorities in Pakistan, a position he held since 2 November 2008, was shot dead on 2 March 2011 shortly after he left his mother's home in Islamabad. He came from a Catholic family deeply committed to justice. Of his work he said'I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ'.

On TV in Dubai a month before he died.

Here are his own words from the video above:

Minister Bhatti, you forgot one question in the interview. Your life is threatened by whom and what sort of threats are you receiving?

The forces of violence, militant banned organizations, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda, they want to impose their radical philosophy on Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy that threatens them, when I’m leading this campaign against the Sharia Law, for the abolishment (abolition) of (the) Blasphemy Law, and speaking for the oppressed and marginalized, persecuted Christian and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me.

But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of (the) Cross and I’m following of the Cross and I am ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. I will prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community rather (than) to compromise on these threats.

Funeral of Shahbaz Bhatti

Sandro Magister, one of the leading journalists covering the Vatican, wrote about the death of Shahbaz Bhatti on 14 April 2011 in A Lesson of Holiness from Remote Pakistan. Magister writes: 

The Bible that Shahbaz always had with him is now in Rome in the memorial for the martyrs of the past century, in the basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Isola Tiberina.

One of the most informative and concerned articles on what his murder has meant in Pakistan and in the whole world is without a doubt the one published in La Civiltà Cattolica dated 2 April 2011.

An article that is all the more significant given that this magazine of the Rome Jesuits is printed after inspection and authorization by the Vatican secretariat of state. So it reflects the thinking of the Holy See in this regard.

In Pakistan, out of a population of 185 million inhabitants, Christians are 2 percent, one million of them Catholic. But among the Muslims as well there are minorities in danger: Shiites, Sufis, Ismaili, Ahmadis.

With Pope Benedict, September 2010

The article in La Civiltà Cattolica was written by Fr Luciano Larivera SJ and includes most of The spiritual testament of Shahbaz BhattiI have highlighted parts of this.
'My name is Shahbaz Bhatti. I was born into a Catholic family. My father, a retired teacher, and my mother, a housewife, raised me according to Christian values and the teachings of the Bible, which influenced my childhood. Since I was a child, I was accustomed to going to church and finding profound inspiration in the teachings, the sacrifice, and the crucifixion of Jesus. It was his love that led me to offer my service to the Church.
'The frightening conditions into which the Christians of Pakistan had fallen disturbed me. I remember one Good Friday when I was just thirteen years old: I heard a homily on the sacrifice of Jesus for our redemption and for the salvation of the world. And I thought of responding to his love by giving love to my brothers and sisters, placing myself at the service of Christians, especially of the poor, the needy, and the persecuted who live in this Islamic country.
'I have been asked to put an end to my battle, but I have always refused, even at the risk of my own life. My response has always been the same. I do not want popularity, I do not want positions of power. I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.
'This desire is so strong in me that I consider myself privileged whenever - in my combative effort to help the needy, the poor, the persecuted Christians of Pakistan - Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life. I want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die. I do not feel any fear in this country. Many times the extremists have wanted to kill me, imprison me; they have threatened me, persecuted me, and terrorized my family.
'I say that, as long as I am alive, until the last breath, I will continue to serve Jesus and this poor, suffering humanity, the Christians, the needy, the poor. I believe that the Christians of the world who have reached out to the Muslims hit by the tragedy of the earthquake of 2005 have built bridges of solidarity, of love, of comprehension, and of tolerance between the two religions. If these efforts continue, I am convinced that we will succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the extremists. This will produce a change for the better: the people will not hate, will not kill in the name of religion, but will love each other, will bring harmony, will cultivate peace and comprehension in this region.
'I believe that the needy, the poor, the orphans, whatever their religion, must be considered above all as human beings. I think that these persons are part of my body in Christ, that they are the persecuted and needy part of the body of Christ. If we bring this mission to its conclusion, then we will have won a place at the feet of Jesus, and I will be able to look at him without feeling shame.'

Columban Fr Tomás King and Gerard Bhatti. a brother of Shahbaz

This song was written and performed by Ooberfuse, a British band, for the first anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti. The lead singer, Cherrie Anderson, is Filipino-British.

His Blood Cries Out
Verse 1.
These are the hands
They praise the life of you
These are the veins
Your life and love flow through
These are the words we try to write for you
We sing this song

His Blood Cries Out
His Blood Cries Out

Verse 2. 
Peace is the star
That guides our hearts to you
Hear all the angels
How they sing for you
These are the words we try to write for you
Help us to erase
This war, this rage
We need to turn the page and
Find true peace within love's heart
In the silence hear the shout
His blood cries out
His blood cries out
His blood cries out

Verse 3.
These are the prayers
Helpless and the weak
His was the voice
For those that couldn't speak
For this we cry
Freedom, Love and Peace
What have you done
This war, this rage,
We need to turn the page and
Find true peace within love's heart
In the silence hear the shout
His blood cries out

His blood cries out
His blood cries out.........

1 comment:

Fr Seán Coyle said...

The Vatican-based Agenzi Fides reported on 1 March: 'Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) – At this time of year when Pakistan's Catholics mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, MP for Minority Groups assassinated in Islamabad on 2 March 2011, the local Church has begun collecting testimony in view of a diocesan enquiry which could lead the Church to declare Bhatti a martyr.'. Full report: http://www.fides.org/en/news/59521-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Shahbaz_Bhatti_diocese_collects_testimony_for_Martyrdom#.VtlTAX1951v