FAISALABAD: A Pakistani priests favors talks with Taliban asserting persecution strengthens Christian faith.
Fr. Bonnie Mendes- Collaborator of the Commission for Caritas and the Commission Justice and Peace of the Pakistani Bishops has asserted in an interview to Fides that the PeshawarChurch bombings have strengthened faith of Christians in Pakistan. Fr. Bonnie Mendes a former Director of Caritas Asia, mentioned in his interview that the disastrous bloodbath in Peshawar, which according to official figures, has caused 126 deaths and injured 166, “is strengthening the faith of Christians in Pakistan. That attack, in the Church, against innocent people who were just praying, has had an opposite effect: people flock to the Churches more than before, there is no fear but there is the strong conviction that we should be closer to Christ, the Way, Truth and Life”
Fr. Bonnie Mendes, reflected on the incident maintaining that, after the massacre of Peshawar “Christians lived days of mourning and they protested loudly across the country. They also prayed in an ecumenical manner, with the presence of other civil society organizations and many Muslim leaders”.
“Faith – has greatly strengthened us. Christians have forgiven the murderers and the Pope’s message was precious: we felt he was close to us more than ever. Also yesterday, during the General Audience, Pope Francis asked to strengthen brotherhood with Muslims: This appeal calls into question a lot of us Christian Pakistanis, who live immersed in a Muslim reality,” he explained.
However, Fr. Bonnie Mendes is in conflict with the “persecution vision against Christians” he said: “As Christians we are not being targeted more today than in the past. Terrorism strikes all: the Shiites, the army, the Ahmadis, the police, moderate Muslim intellectuals. There is no persecution: terrorism is a challenge for the whole country”.
“The Pakistani Taliban have their own agenda, they do not want democracy and they want to impose the Islamic law. But even in this situation, the Christians in Pakistan support the efforts of the government to enter into negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban. Despite the recent attack, claimed by Taliban groups, there is no alternative: every effort of dialogue is welcomed, and is an act of courage for the good of the country, which has strong need to defuse terrorism and find internal harmony, the basis of economic and social welfare. There are no other options except negotiation. A compromise is difficult, it is a winding road, but one has to follow it, taking also into consideration the full respect for the rule of law”, he concluded.