LAHORE, Pakistan — Security and violent extremism have been major challenges in Pakistan. More than 20,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2003.
Minority houses of worship have been among the targets. In March 2015, two churches in Lahore were attacked by Sunday morning suicide bombings. More than a dozen worshipers were killed, and at least 70 people were wounded.
The #SJS journalists attended Mass at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, which was damaged by a suicide bombing in the neighborhood in 2008. Rev. Joseph Shahzad, rector of the cathedral, met with our group afterward. He told us Sacred Heart continues to get threats. “We can expect anything at any time,” he said.
I asked him if the possibility of violence deters people from attending church. He told me it’s just the opposite.
“When there is a threat, more people come,” he said. “They prefer to die in the church than in their houses.”
Despite the difficulties, Shahzad said Pakistani Christians haven’t lost their faith. “Still, we have hope of living in peace,” he told us.
Watch video excerpts from Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral: