Friday 4 March 2011

Open Letter to the Rt Revd Samuel Azariah, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan

This letter was released as a press statement on 3 March 2011

Dear Bishop Samuel,

As I prepare to leave Bethlehem tonight, I am shocked and saddened to learn about the brutal murder of Mr Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for religious minorities in Pakistan, shot dead yesterday in a broad daylight in a residential area of Islamabad.

One can’t know the full story in these things but the fact that Mr Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian in the Islamabad cabinet and had expressed his dis-ease on the ‘regressive’ blasphemy law in Pakistan is certainly a troubling sign for inter-faith relationships – now and in the future.

The fact that his speaking out meant that he paid the price with his life, deserves the strongest condemnation by all.

As you are well aware, our recent meeting of Anglican Primates in Dublin had expressed regret about the blasphemy law and I had referred to this my February letter to the people of our Province. ( ‘To the Laos.’)

We, on behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Synod of Bishops, send our prayers and condolences to his family, to our fellow Christians in Pakistan and to you as Moderator of the Church in Pakistan, our sister church in Pakistan.

Witnessing to Christ in other contexts can be costly - to the point of death. I urge all people of faith, especially in our Province to seek to understand each other and work together for the well-being of God’s people and God’s world.

Yours in the service of Christ,

The Most Revd Dr Thabo C Makgoba,

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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