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2014-06-30

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Archbishop of Lahore: "A new springtime for the Church in our country"

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "We are very grateful to the Holy Father. He has appointed the new Bishop Joseph Arshad in Faisalabad, the new Archbishop of Lahore, the new Apostolic Administrator in Multan. They are very positive steps for the Church. New leaders and new ideas: the Church of Pakistan needs it. It is a new springtime. We will work together for the progress and growth of the Church in Pakistan". This was declared to Fides Agency by the new Archbishop of Lahore, His Exc. Mgr. Sebastian Shaw OFM who yesterday, June 29th, was among the 24 Archbishops who received the Pallium from Pope Francis.
"Among the new Bishops – explains Mgr. Shaw - there is a common approach: we all look at our situation with hope, trying to cooperate. For example, the commissions for catechesis, liturgy, Caritas, economy will confront each other and will work together. There is human harmony among us. We intend to adopt a methodology of cooperation in all fields".
The Bishops share the pastoral needs. One of them, remarked Mgr. Shaw is the formation of catechists: "In Lahore alone we have 300, scattered throughout the territory. Catechists are an important presence, because they live in the midst of people. They are lay people, they are our missionaries in the suburbs. Our catechetical Centers are vital points for the local Church and evangelization. These people are important for the formation of the people to the Sacraments such as baptism, confirmation, marriage. The Church organizes formation courses for catechists from all over Pakistan with collaborative interdiocesan effort".
Another priority is education. "In Catholic schools, in Lahore alone we have over 800 thousand students, 90% are Muslims. In schools, 'dialogue of life' is carried out – a path for the construction of an open, tolerant and pluralistic society, characterized by peaceful coexistence. Through the students, we have contact with families: so schools become our specialized centers of dialogue. Young people are the future of society: we begin from them to build mutual respect among religions in the nation".
Dialogue continues thanks to the efforts of religious leaders and the cooperation with Islamic leaders such as the imam of the Grand Mosque in Lahore, Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad, one of the greatest Muslim personalities of Pakistan. "Dialogue is the main path for the nation's future", concluded the Archbishop of Lahore. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/06/2014)

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