Woolmer farewelled at Lahore cathedral service

Muslims joined Christians at a Sacred Heart Cathedral service led by Lahore Catholic Archbishop Lawrence Saldhanha for former Pakistan cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, as new doubts emerge as to whether he was murdered or died in a tragic accident.

The International Herald Tribune reports that some 200 people, including cricket players and officials, attended the service in Lahore, the home of Pakistani cricket.

Mr Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his hotel room in Kingston, Jamaica on 18 March and pronounced dead at hospital on the morning after his team's elimination from the Cricket World Cup in a surprising loss to Ireland.

Jamaican police have said Mr Woolmer was strangled.

"God rest you, Bob, God rest you, and until we meet again, goodbye," said Lahore Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, who led the prayers for Mr Woolmer.

"Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies go out to his mourning wife and relatives. We pray that God may grant them comfort and strength to bear this tragic loss," says Archbishop Saldanha, who is also President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan.

Earlier, a minute of silence was observed and chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Naseem Ashraf, lit two candles and put flowers in front of a portrait of Mr Woolmer. The memorial was organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board but was open to the public.

"He was like a shepherd who always looked after his flock," said Mr Ashraf, who has been asked by Pakistani president to continue in his job after he also offered to resign over the World Cup rout.

Pakistan team captain Inzamam-ul-Haq offered flowers on behalf of his team members.

Mr Inzamam resigned as captain and stepped down from one-day international cricket following the team's humiliating ouster from the World Cup tournament being played in the West Indies.

"He was an excellent coach, but he even a better human being," Mr Inzamam said.

Meanwhile, News.com.au reports that speculation is mounting that Mr Woolmer's death was not murder but a tragic accident after witnesses described how the Pakistan coach drank a whole bottle of scotch on the night he died.

One onlooker described how Mr Woolmer, 58, sat alone in the bar of the Hotel Pegasus in Kingston with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Forensic experts have said a tiny bone in Mr Woolmer's neck could have been broken as a result of a fall rather than by strangulation.


SOURCE

Pakistan holds memorial for slain cricket coach Bob Woolmer (International Herald Tribune, 1/4/07)

Pakistan coach's pillow 'was soaked in blood' (News.com.au, 2/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bob Woolmer (Wikipedia)
Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference

ARCHIVE
Pakistan Archbishop alarmed by decline in religious freedom (CathNews, 15/7/04)
Pakistan president seeks review of blasphemy laws (CathNews, 21/5/04)


2 Apr 2007