Pulong ng Editor

Shahbaz Bhatti شہبازبھٹی
(9 September 1968 – 2 March 2011)

‘I want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die.’

The Church in the Philippines is engaged in a nine-year preparation for the celebration in 2021 of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 1521. The first year of that preparation was the Year of Faith, 2013, observed throughout the world at the initiative of Pope Benedict XVI. The bishops of the Philippines have declared 2014, the second year of preparation for the celebration in 2021, as the Year of the Laity in the country.

Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel (EG), calls each one of us to share that joy with others.

In EG 102 Pope Francis writes:‘Even if many are now involved in the lay ministries, this involvement is not reflected in a greater penetration of Christian values in the social, political and economic sectors. It often remains tied to tasks within the Church, without a real commitment to applying the Gospel to the transformation of society.’ 

A Catholic who embodied the commitment the Pope has in mind was a politician in Pakistan, where Columbans have been working since 1979, ShahbazBhatti, assassinated on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad, shortly after he had left his mother’s home.

The Spiritual Testament of Shahbaz Bhatti

A month after his death La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit magazine in Rome the contents of which are inspected and authorized by the Vatican Secretariat of State, published the Spiritual Testament of Shahbaz Bhatti. Sandro Magister, one of the best known commentators on Vatican affairs, republished it on his blog. Here is the English translation as found there.

'My name is ShahbazBhatti. I was born into a Catholic family. My father, a retired teacher, and my mother, a housewife, raised me according to Christian values and the teachings of the Bible, which influenced my childhood. Since I was a child, I was accustomed to going to church and finding profound inspiration in the teachings, the sacrifice, and the crucifixion of Jesus. It was his love that led me to offer my service to the Church.

'The frightening conditions into which the Christians of Pakistan had fallen disturbed me. I remember one Good Friday when I was just thirteen years old: I heard a homily on the sacrifice of Jesus for our redemption and for the salvation of the world. And I thought of responding to his love by giving love to my brothers and sisters, placing myself at the service of Christians, especially of the poor, the needy, and the persecuted who live in this Islamic country.

'I have been asked to put an end to my battle, but I have always refused, even at the risk of my own life. My response has always been the same. I do not want popularity, I do not want positions of power. I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.

'This desire is so strong in me that I consider myself privileged whenever - in my combative effort to help the needy, the poor, the persecuted Christians of Pakistan - Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life. I want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die. I do not feel any fear in this country. Many times the extremists have wanted to kill me, imprison me; they have threatened me, persecuted me, and terrorized my family.

'I say that, as long as I am alive, until the last breath, I will continue to serve Jesus and this poor, suffering humanity, the Christians, the needy, the poor. I believe that the Christians of the world who have reached out to the Muslims hit by the tragedy of the earthquake of 2005 have built bridges of solidarity, of love, of comprehension, and of tolerance between the two religions. If these efforts continue, I am convinced that we will succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the extremists. This will produce a change for the better: the people will not hate, will not kill in the name of religion, but will love each other, will bring harmony, will cultivate peace and comprehension in this region.

'I believe that the needy, the poor, the orphans, whatever their religion, must be considered above all as human beings. I think that these persons are part of my body in Christ, that they are the persecuted and needy part of the body of Christ. If we bring this mission to its conclusion, then we will have won a place at the feet of Jesus, and I will be able to look at him without feeling shame.'

Ooberfuse is a London-based band whose lead singer, Cherrie Anderson, is the daughter of a Filipina immigrant to Britain. The members of the band use music to share the Gospel and wrote His Blood Cries Out for the first anniversary of the death of ShahbazBhatti. They incorporated in the video part of a TV interview with the Pakistani politician about a month before he died. Here is the final part of that interview with a transcript below the video.


‘Minister Bhatti, you forgot one question in the interview. Your life is threatened by whom and what sort of threats are you receiving?’

‘The forces of violence, militant banned organizations, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda, they want to impose their radical philosophy on Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy that threatens them, when I’m leading this campaign against the Sharia Law, for the abolition of the Blasphemy Law, and speaking for the oppressed and marginalized, persecuted Christian and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me.

‘But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of the Cross and I’m following of the Cross and I am ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. I will prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise on these threats.’



‘I want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die.’
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13, NRSVCE).