In his words, Holy Father Pope Francis thanked both the Pontifical Foundation “Aid to the Church in Need” and the Polish Episcopal Conference for organizing this initiative of peace and solidarity and said that this year’s financial support would be donated to Christians in Pakistan. Speaking to Vatican News, the Head of Press and Information at ACN in the UK, John Pontifex said that, “the important thing to say about the position for Christians in Pakistan is that they really are second class citizens”.

As reported by Vatican news, John added that their “whole job prospects are very very limited” and that the education system in Pakistan has been “accused of being very prejudiced against Christians; that there’s a whole systemic problem of hatred of Christians in schools”. Addressing the issue of the Blasphemy laws in the country, he said, that on the “flimsiest of pretexts they (Christians) can be accused of either disrespect towards the prophet Mohammad or indeed disrespect somehow to texts containing verses of the Koran”.

Arguably the most high profile case of a Christian being accused of blasphemy is that of Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who was arrested in November 2010 and sentenced to death. In July 2015 the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended her death sentence pending an appeal.