“There are persons who are willing to die for an ideal in which they believe. Among these is Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister of Minorities of Pakistan, killed on March 2, 2011 at Islamabad by armed men.” Thus writes the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in the Preface of the book, which goes on sale today and is published by Saint Paul’s: “Shabaz – The Voice of Justice,” written by Paul Bhatti, Pakistani doctor and politician, older brother of the martyred Minister.
The author reviews his brother’s life with private memories and family anecdotes, up to his commitment in politics and worry over the constant threats that led to the day of his assassination.
The commitment of a Christian politician, killed six years ago, whom Parolin praises, pointing him out as a model. “A politician in the true sense of the term, who chose the Gospel as his style of life and marked his work with it,” writes the Cardinal.
The Vatican Secretary of States pauses, in particular, on the “unforgettable phrases” that Shahbaz Bhatti has left us as testament, some of which are reported in the volume in question. They “express the depth of his intimate relation with Christ,” notes Parolin.
Bhatti’s ideal was not “a simple idea, not a mere value, though noble and lofty. It was what Christians have that is most dear, namely, Christ Himself,” reflects the Cardinal. In fact, in his spiritual testament he wrote: “I want to live for Christ and I want to die for Him.”
As Cardinal Parolin highlights in the preface, from the book it emerges how Shahbaz Bhatti had at heart the lot of the poorest, of the weakest, of the last.” And “among these, he kept a particular place for the Christian minority of Pakistan.
“To fulfil his mission, the martyred politician “was a sincere promoter of inter-religious dialogue, of ecumenism and of peace between peoples, showing that only open encounter can educate the new generations to listen, to tolerance and to peaceful coexistence,” continues Parolin.
Cardinal Parolin recalls that Bhatti made service to Christ his “life’s program,” as he himself wrote: “High posts in the government were proposed to me and I was asked to abandon my battle, but I always refused, even at the risk of my life itself. My answer was always the same: ‘No, I want to serve Jesus as an ordinary man.’”
See, then, how Bhatti did not draw back in face of “the powers of the world,” in as much as he was “aware that nothing and no one could tear him from the hand of his Lord,” stresses the Vatican Secretary of State.
The example of altruism and courage that this book transmits can enrich us all. And it “helps us to not forget the Christians of Pakistan and their difficulties,” concludes Cardinal Parolin.