Bishop of Faisalabad, Pakistan
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Chairman, International Policy Committee
U.S. Catholic Conference
May 8, 1998
We were shocked and dismayed to learn of the tragic death of Bishop John Joseph of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Coming so soon after the murder of another bishop closely identified with the Church's concern for human rights, Bishop Juan Gerardi of Guatemala, the death of Bishop Joseph is cause for great sorrow. As chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission, he was a leading voice for the poor, the marginalized, and the victims of injustice. He worked tirelessly against Pakistan's extraordinarily harsh Islamic blasphemy laws, defending those who have been condemned to death by these sectarian laws, most recently Ayub Masih. He twice went on hunger strikes to protest discriminatory laws, which have been used repeatedly against innocent religious minorities.
We pray for the immortal soul of Bishop Joseph and offer our deep condolences to the Pakistan Episcopal Conference, to the people of the Diocese of Faisalabad, and to all the family, friends and co-workers of the bishop. May they be strengthened to carry on his work through non-violent and peaceful efforts to achieve a more just and equitable Pakistani society, in which religious liberty and other basic human rights are fully respected.