Brother of slain Pakistani minister says he forgives murderers

By  Sara Angle, Catholic News Service
  • April 7, 2011

Paul Bhatti, centre, meeting Pope Benedict XVI April 6. Bhatti's brother, Shahbaz, was a former Pakistani minister for minorities who was murdered by Islamic extremists last month. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) ROME - Paul Bhatti, brother of the former Pakistani minister for minorities who was murdered by Islamic extremists, said he and his family forgive his brother's assassins.

Shahbaz Bhatti, who spoke out against Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws and encouraged religious freedom, was killed March 2.

Speaking to reporters in Rome April 5, Paul Bhatti said his family has forgiven Shahbaz's assassins, "because our faith teaches us to do this. Our brother Shahbaz was a Christian and the Christian faith tells us to forgive."

The brother participated in a conference sponsored by the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Rome-based Catholic lay organization active in international affairs. The conference was designed as a memorial to Shahbaz Bhatti and as a way to encourage the continuation of his mission of promoting interreligious dialogue in Pakistan.


The assassinated minister's brother told the conference, "To obtain peace in the world we must all walk together ... (peace) is a universal responsibility."

He said his brother never compromised his faith-motivated work for social justice and once said explicitly that he "left his life in the hands of Jesus."

Paul Bhatti asked for prayers and support to keep Shahbaz's life work going.

While he said he and his family have forgiven the assassins, he said there was a need to clarify what happened and find the perpetrators to prevent a similar crime from happening in the future.

"The person who killed him did not extinguish his light because we will continue his battle with strength and determination," he said.

Paul Bhatti recently assumed the position of the Pakistani president's "special adviser" for religious minorities and he told reporters his first priority is to promote the real integration of minorities into Pakistani society, "talking with Muslims and reducing sentiments of hatred." He added "the fact that they have asked me to continue my brother's work shows their desire for change."

Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, who was Shahbaz Bhatti's bishop in Pakistan, also attended the conference, and told Catholic News Service that he remembered Bhatti as "a very committed man, he wanted to do something, he was very sincere, very honest. He was a man with a vision, and always positive."

Coutts compared Bhatti to the great martyrs Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, because "all worked peacefully, they used peaceful methods."

He said the Pakistani government is doing what it can to provide protection outside churches and for religious functions, but the government also is under attack by extremists.

"We are going through a difficult time in our history in Pakistan with the rise of intolerance and extremism in the last few years, but you have got to understand this in the wider context of what is happening in the world," Coutts said.

Coutts told CNS, "The intervention of the United States and NATO forces, and the attacks that continue from outside Pakistan territory into Pakistan, where not only a handful of terrorists are being killed, but many innocent people are being killed," leave Muslims in Pakistan questioning who the real terrorists are.

"When a Muslim looks at the West, the West is seen as Christian," he said. Muslims look at the situation and say to themselves, "the Christians are doing terrorism; why doesn't the Pope condemn this terrorism?" he said.

Marco Impagliazzo, the president of Sant'Egidio, said the community held the conference to show "that the memory of a martyr always produces something new and beautiful."

 

{iarelatednews articleid="5168,5169,5178"}

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.