On Sunday, Pope Francis decried the massacre of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan, and denounced a worldwide effort to conceal the reality of Christian persecution.
“With pain, with great pain,” said Francis after his usual midday Angelus message, “I learned of the terrorist attacks today against two churches in the city of Lahore in Pakistan, which have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.”
“These are Christian churches,” the Pope said. “Christians are being persecuted. Our brothers and sisters are shedding their blood just because they are Christians.”
Along with imploring God, “the source of all good,” for the gift of peace and an end to this tragic situation of violence, Francis also accused the world of “trying to hide” anti-Christian persecution.
The tally of victims so far totals 14, including children. Reports speak of as many as 70 injured, many of whom are in critical condition. Militants of Jamaat-ul-Sayidah, a Pakistani splinter group of the Taliban, have taken credit for the bombings.
Pakistan minorities are on edge after years of militant violence against Pakistan’s Christian community. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, with Christians making up less than 2% of the population.
In September 2013, two explosions at the All Saint’s Church in Peshawar killed 127 people and injured more than 250, and an attack on a Peshawar school in December 2014 killed 150 people, mostly students.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.