Skip Content
Shahbaz Bhatti in 2006, at a refugee camp set up after the Pakistan earthquake of 2005

Shahbaz Bhatti in 2006, at a refugee camp set up after the Pakistan earthquake of 2005

PAKISTAN: Scotland's Cardinal O'Brien calls for Shahbaz Bhatti to be made a saint

By John Newton

2 March 2012

Scotland's most senior Catholic bishop has called for the Church to consider declaring Shahbaz Bhatti a saint.

In a statement issued today, 2nd March – the first anniversary of Mr Bhatti's death – Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, expressed his hope that the Church will look into the option of canonising Mr Bhatti.

Appointed federal minister for minorities, a Cabinet position in Pakistan's government, Shahbaz Bhatti took up the cause of religious freedom, speaking out against persecution and in so doing knowingly putting his life in danger.

Noting that the canonisation process normally begins five years after the candidate's death, Cardinal O'Brien said: "When that time comes I believe the Church should very seriously examine the question of whether Shahbaz Bhatti might be declared a saint."

Catholic pop band ooberfuse created the above video, which includes a contribution by Aid to the Church in Need's John Pontifex, in tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti. They have also released a single, Blood Cries Out,  in his memory. They will be performing at a peace rally in Trafalgar Square on Satruday 10th March.

 

The cardinal went on to say: "It would be wonderful to think that... Shahbaz Bhatti could become a patron for justice and peace in Pakistan or indeed Asia."

He added his hope that Latin America's Archbishop Oscar Romero might one day become one of the patron saints of Central and South America as well.

Cardinal O'Brien's call to examine Mr Bhatti's worthiness for sainthood was made in a statement to Aid to the Church in Need, which is one of the organisers behind an event in central London honouring the Pakistani politician.

A peace rally and concert on Saturday 10th March, led by the British Pakistani Christian Association, will commemorate the anniversary of Mr Bhatti's death and call for changes to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the way they are enforced.

The blasphemy laws impose sentences including execution and life imprisonment for offences against Islam. Mr Bhatti was murdered for speaking out after Asia Bibi became the first woman to be sentenced to death under these laws.

In his call to look into the possibility of the Catholic politician being canonised, Cardinal O'Brien described him as a man who had lived and died for his Christian faith.

He said: "From what we know of his life and work Shahbaz Bhatti appears to have been a true man of God, who led a life of heroic virtue."

"His final interview reveals that he foresaw that he might die for what he believed in and was not afraid to join his Lord on the cross.

"His commitment to Christ suggests that here is an individual whose life and faith is worthy of examination [to see if he might be declared a saint] and it may be that in the fullness of time Shahbaz Bhatti is raised to the dignity of the altars." 

Tagged with:

Pakistan - Scotland - Shahbaz Bhatti (Pakistan) - South East Asia

< Back to News stories

<< Previous articleNext article >>

Sign up to our newsletter

Email:


Aid to the Church in Need Blogger

Border report from Lebanon

Lebanon

The Damascus to Beirut road is remarkably busy - despite three bombings in five days in or near Beirut.  The Lebanese security forces have caught bombers and potential bombers, foiling major attacks. The check points have been increased and strengthened. Yet, this is almost nothing compared to the stories of those coming out of Syria. Read more

Lebanese Christians caring for traumatised and despairing refugees

Lebanon

I stood in the crowded corridor of the St Antoine, Dispensary, Roueisset, near Beirut. Small children cuddled up sitting on their mother's knees, waiting for vital inoculations. The families waiting at this busy centre are mostly Syrian but I spoke to a young Iraqi mother, with her three children. Sr Hanan, who runs the Dispensary, told me that  more Iraqis have   arrived in the last few weeks - after the frightening outbreak of conflict in Iraq. Read more

Tagged with:

Pakistan - Scotland - Shahbaz Bhatti (Pakistan) - South East Asia

Related country profiles