Tag Archives: martyr

Where Shahbaz Bhatti leading us now?

A few times in the last month I’ve mentioned the the tragic death of a brother in the Lord, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic in Pakistan, a voice against oppression. His death should signal for us that religious freedom is not operative around the world as well as out-and-out persecution of Christians is a too frequent occurrence. Just read the end of the year stats on the deaths of people just because they are Christian published by the Vatican office of Evangelization of Peoples. We can’t under-estimate the our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world face just because they utter Jesus’ name as Lord and Savior: they face death and oppression daily.


In a recently published essay, “The Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Jesuit Father Luciano Larivera, explores the details of a  Christian’s murder by Islamic extremists. He writes in his summary, “On March 2, a commando of an Islamic terrorist group assassinated Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, the minister of Religious Minorities in Pakistan. He was a Catholic, and is already considered a martyr for the faith and interreligious dialogue. Let us quote the spiritual testament. As with the governor of the province of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was killed Jan. 4, Bhatti had fought for the abolition, or at least for the reform, of the law against blasphemy and the liberation of Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to be hung for insulting Muhammad. Pakistan is torn apart by numerous tensions and an internal power struggle. Religious violence and intimidation have weakened the Government’s action. The country needs the restoration of an effective criminal justice system, which also prevents and sanctions crimes against religious minorities. La Civiltà Cattolica (3859, 2011, II, pp. 81-90) carries the essay.


The UK’s Guardian carried this obit for Shahbaz Bhatti.

St Shahbaz Bhatti? — Paul Bhatti fills brother’s shoes

Some people are
suggesting that the Catholic bishops of Pakistan may petition the Pope to say
that the recently murdered Shahbaz Bhatti is a martyr. More will be known
on or after the March 25th meeting of the bishops. Bhatti was gunned down on Marc in Islamabad. 
Pakistan has about 2.5 Christians. 

Bishop Andrew Francis
of Multan: “Bhatti is a man who gave his life for his crystalline faith in
Jesus Christ. It is up to us, the bishops, to tell his story and
experience to the church in Rome, to call for official recognition of his
martyrdom.”

Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore and president of the
Conference of Bishops said: “The murder of Shahbaz Bhatti means that we
have lost a great leader of our community who stood up for us and articulated
the concerns and fears of our people. We do not have a leader now. Our people
are quite down. They are fearful of the future.”

In the meantime, Paul Bhatti, MD, has been appointed by Pakistan’s Prime Minister to work with minorities, the same job his brother had.

Is there a desire for God still present today?

A few days ago I recommended seeing “Of Gods and Men.” Last week I saw the film and I have still been thinking of the movie, the monks, the hard work of inter-religious dialog. The testament of Dom Christian de Cherge can be read here. I highly recommend reading what Prior Christian said and what others think. A group of friends took time to see the movie together. Two friends brought a perspective of the film to my attention recently. The following is an an answer to those who ask whether a desire for God is still present in our times. Angelo Scola writes: 

I believe that the worldwide success of the film on the Tibhirine
monks [U.S. Title: “Of Gods and Men”] reflects a burning desire in the men and
women of any latitude to meet the face of God; it therefore reflects the real
need we all feel for authentic witnesses who may help us keep our gazes focused
upwards.

Authentic witness is, in fact, not limited to “giving a good example”.
It shines in all its wholeness as a method for practically knowing reality and
communicating truth. It is a primary value, standing above any other form of
knowledge and communication – scientific, philosophical, theological, artistic,
etc.

Christian de Chergé.jpg

A luminous example of this method is offered by the very words which Fr
Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas
in Tibhirine, Algeria, wrote in his spiritual will [noted above], a good three years before
he was massacred with his monks:

“When the time comes, I would like to be able
to have an instant of lucidity that would allow me to ask for the pardon of God
and that of men, my brothers, while forgiving with all my heart those who may
have hit me… I cannot see how I could, in fact, rejoice in that this people I
love could be accused of my assassination. It 

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Christiani Iraquiae, orate pro nobis

christiani iraquiae.jpg

Remembering the women killed in El Salvador 30 years ago

4 El Salvador martyrs.jpgI was quite young when the 4 women were killed in El Salvador in 1980. They were killed months after the Servant of God Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed. Missionaries brutally killed for their faith Christ and service to the poor are part of the landscape of the proclamation of the Gospel. Since my high school days, I have kept these women in prayer, especially since Jean Donovan had a Connecticut connection. They were:

Sister Maura Clarke, MM
Sister Ita Ford, MM
Sister Dorothy Kazal, OSU
Miss Jean Donovan.
The Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers’ remembrance
The Maryknoll Sisters’ remembrance
The Vatican Radio story is here.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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