Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, the Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, lit candles and prayed yesterday in St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds for the couple and their unborn daughter who were burned to death in Pakistan last week.
Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, who had three children, were attacked by a mob of 1,200 that had gathered after rumours they had desecrated the Koran. It is thought the mob burned them to death at the brick kiln where they worked.
Cardinal Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, said: “This is a horrific and tragic event which sullies the reputation of a great nation. Surely all people of true religious spirit will, in response, turn to God in prayer, seeking forgiveness for the violence and destruction of life, pleading for peace in our troubled world.
“For my part I pray for the repose of the souls of the couple and their unborn child.”
Robinson, who visited Pakistan in March as chairman of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pakistan focus group, said: “The savage attack and murder of these two Christians and their unborn child is unacceptable in any civilised society.
“The Pakistan government must do more to protect minorities in Pakistan from mob rule and a misuse of the blasphemy laws.
“In this country we hold that freedom of religion is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society. As we look around the world today there are many places where people are not allowed this freedom. We must not take the freedom we have lightly and work to change the attitudes of those who persecute people of another faith.”
Their prayers followed vespers at the cathedral to mark 50 years since the Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio.
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