Pakistani Diocese Winds up Sainthood Inquiry on Martyred Youth

Akash Bashir died in 2015 while preventing a suicide bomber from attacking a packed church in Lahore.

Newsroom (30/03/2024 19:28, Gaudium Press) Lahore archdiocese in Pakistan has officially concluded the inquiry into the martyrdom of Akash Bashir, the nation’s first candidate for sainthood, nine years after he was killed while preventing a suicide bomber from entering a packed church.

Hundreds of Catholics thronged to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore on March 15 as Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore along with other officials signed the documents saying they had faithfully fulfilled the required work.

The diocesan inquiry, the first process after a candidate has been accepted for canonization, examines if the candidate lived a life of sanctity, heroically practising Christian virtues.

Salesian Father Gabriel Cruz, vice-postulator of the cause of Akash, said the diocesan inquiry process was completed in 38 sessions. They included testimonies of people on the life, martyrdom and reputation of holiness of the candidate.

The cathedral was decorated with banners paying tribute to Bashir who was only 20 when he died.

Archbishop Germano Penemote, the apostolic nuncio, and about 40 priests joined the thanksgiving mass that began with a song dedicated to Bashir.

Archbishop Shaw sealed the boxes containing reports on the life, martyrdom and reputation of Akash.

When the Vatican approves his heroic Christian life with a decree, Akash will be called Venerable.

A special prayer seeking his canonization as a martyr was distributed.

The archbishop urged Catholics to offer supplications with it and report to the dioceses when their prayers are answered.

“It will help us in the next step,” he said praying for Akash to achieve the rank of saints. It is a historical occasion. We thank his parents for the training. We pray for this grace for all parents to raise peaceful youth strong in their faith.”

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The next step, after a candidate is declared a venerable, is beatification, which recognizes the saintly person as Blessed.

At least one miracle acquired through the candidate’s intercession is required to declare the candidate as Blessed.

The nuncio garlanded security volunteers who accompanied Akash.

“His humility, simple life and determination are a source of bravery and courage for us all. We know that it is difficult to lead a Christian life in our environment. Akash has set a powerful example for young people. He will remain alive in our lives and church,” he said.

Akash stopped a suicide bomber from entering the St. John’s Catholic Church in Youhanabad area of Lahore on March 15, 2015. The attacker — from a Taliban splinter group — detonated the bomb, killing himself and Bashir and at least 15 other people. More than 70 were also wounded in the attack.

A nearby Protestant church was bombed simultaneously.

In 2016, on the first anniversary of the attack, the Lahore Archdiocese began efforts for the canonization of Akash.

  • Raju Hasmukh with files from UCAN News

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