This report is contributed by Esther Gaitan-Fuertes of Aid to the Church in Need.
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Almost two weeks ago, Father Piero Parolari—a medical doctor and a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) serving in Bangladesh—was attacked by three men when he was riding his bicycle to St Vincent Hospital, which is mostly serving the poor from remote villages. He was shot and fell down, unconscious.
The missionary is among a growing number of victims—most of them clergy and lay Christian leaders—wounded and killed by radical Islamists in Bangladesh
Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that Father Parolari is still recovering from the Nov. 18 attack; he is currently at the Combine Military hospital in Dhaka. The 64-year-old medical doctor missionary is out of danger but his injuries are severe. “The attackers targeted his head but missed it, the bullet hit his neck instead and it passed it through. It was a miracle, he was saved by God,” the bishop said.
The military do not let other visitors than Father Parolari’s fellow missionaries into his room, and they can only stay for five minutes. As soon as the doctors will clear him him to fly, Father Parolari will be sent to Italy, his home country, for further recovery.
Bishop Tudu said that after the attack on Father Parolari the Bangladeshi government asked foreigners to avoid going out without informing the local police; the same warning has been issued to the local priests and religious. Bishop Tudu reported that a number of such attacks have taken place during the last three years.
The bishop stressed that concrete reasons behind this attack remain unknown. On the day after the attack, however, it was claimed by an Islamic State Bangladeshi affiliate. The bishop believes that these attacks might be politically motivated. The priests and religious support minority groups and the most recent victims have been mostly foreigners, as well as a protestant pastor.
“With these attacks, these groups want to gain international attention. It seems they want to stir up instability in Bangladesh,” the bishop said. Several priests and missionaries have received death threats. Due to the increasing threats to Church personnel, the archbishop of Dhaka and other religious leaders have met with the country’s Home Minister to discuss this problem.
Bishop Tudu asked for prayers: “God’s providence can help us bring peace and stability to our country. Please pray for us!”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)