Archbishop Justin Welby defies advice not to visit Christian terror victims in Pakistan

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has shown solidarity with the Christian victims of terror attacks in Pakistan by spending two days to visit them despite advice from church officials not to.

(Reuters/Luke MacGregor)The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks to the congregation during his first service at Canterbury Cathedral in southern England, March 23, 2013.

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the faithful at the St. Thomas Church in Islamabad and Christ Church in Youhanabad. He also met with both Christian and Muslim survivors of the 2013 and 2015 church bombings, a solidarity visit which gained praise from Church of Pakistan moderator Bishop Samuel Azariah, the Anglican Communion News Service details.

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"He was determined to visit Pakistan," said Bishop Azariah. "He was advised not to attend the church in Islamabad but he said that he would go there and as an Archbishop visiting a province how could he not go to the church and not meet his people."

Aside from that, Bishop Azariah said Archbishop Welby prayed with the terror victims and gave them a message of encouragement and hope. Welby told them that Pakistan is being mentioned every day in their prayers at Lambeth Palace, a gesture that Azariah said the Pakistani believers are grateful for.

Lambeth, on the other hand, released a statement saying Archbishop Welby also discussed freedom of religion and the protection of Pakistan's religious minorities with children, young people, government officials, and theological students.

Earlier this year, Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for an Easter Sunday attack in Lahore that claimed the lives of at least 73 people and injured 320, mostly Muslims. The group's spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told NBC News that they were planning more "devastating" attacks targeting Christians and other members of the religious minority.

Ehsan's statement raised concern over the scale of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar's operations in Pakistan. It also pressured the Islamabad government to do more to eradicate terrorism from the country since it has vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday attack.

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