“This is a catastrophe for the Christian community of Pakistan,” my secretary Ashbel Taj said to me a few minutes ago. He had just returned from visiting the wounded at Lady Reading Hospital after today’s bombing at All Saints’ Church in the heart of the old city of Peshawar.
Despite having the largest trauma unit in the world, the hospital scene was chaotic, he said, as staff struggled to treat the 200 or more wounded. Information is still emerging, but numerous conversations with colleagues in Peshawar – I’m in the USA at the moment – indicate that 150 or more people were killed.
I’ve tried to reach Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, but he is fully occupied in visiting the wounded in hospital. He was on visitation at the parish in Bannu, in Waziristan, but rushed back upon news of the bombing.
Among the dead are students and alums of Edwardes College, the number yet to be determined. I am told that William Ghulam, who translated for me when I preached at All Saints’, was killed, as were a daughter and son of his. William was head of a high school in Peshawar and an Edwardian. His daughter was a current student at Edwardes, his son an alum who was in medical school. William had an active mind and was a keen observer of changing times in Pakistan. He would come to tea with me to discuss translation details of an upcoming sermon. We once discussed Edwardes opening an Education Department, and he was keen to be involved, especially as he was working toward an MPhil degree in Education.
The litany goes on. A woman student of ours named Mehrab, articulate and mature, who attended Morning Prayer frequently at the College. The sister-in-law of the presbyter-in-charge at St. John’s Cathedral. Naeem, the charismatic music director at All Saints’, who led us so inspirationally as we processed through the old city of Peshawar last Easter morning. And so many others killed or maimed.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following concerning today’s tragic bombing at All Saints Anglican Church, Peshawar, Pakistan, causing fatalities and injuries.
This act of violence is a reminder of the preciousness and fragility of life, and of our interconnectedness. We are all wounded, we have all lost family, friends, and fellow citizens of the world. We will continue to pray for the bereaved, for the injured, for the perpetrators, for their communities, and for this broken world. May all the faithful departed rest in peace, and may God receive them with arms of mercy and compassion.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church