Kathmandu (Fides Service) – To see the country, meet the people and the authorities and encourage church personnel Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, newly appointed Papal Nuncio to India and Nepal made a first official visit to Nepal 2-8 July.
On his arrival in Kathmandu on 2 July, the Nuncio was welcomed by the pro-Prefect Father Pius Perimanaw and a representative of his Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram. The Archbishop then went to the Royal Palace to present his credentials and have a private conversation with the King.
In his week-long stay the Archbishop had the opportunity to visit various religious communities and see for himself the situation of the Church in Nepal. On July 5 in the Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary The Nuncio said Mass for the local Catholic community. In his homily he traced the history of Christianity in Nepal and thanked Religious men and women for their contribution towards helping the community to grow.
The Nuncio said: “The Gospel can only take root if it has a profitable meeting with the culture and traditions of the peoples among whom it is proclaimed. We do not uproot something in order to replace it with something else. To proclaim Jesus Christ among people who already have a religion is not an act of violence, because the Church proposes, she does not impose. The Church proclaims the Good News of Christ in its entirety but at the same time she has respect, love and esteem for the culture and traditions of those who listen to her preaching”. Archbishop Lopez Quintana underlined that it is often difficult to announce the Good New and he encouraged the local community to persevere with faith, hope and charity.
The Nuncio also met a group of local priests and religious who had come from all over the country for the occasion. He assured them that the process to elevate the ecclesiastical circumscription to the rank of diocese is moving and that he hoped to see it completed during his term of office.
Hinduism is the official language in the Kingdom of Nepal. Buddhism and Islam are also officially recognised. The local Church is taking steps to have Christianity recognised officially. The process could benefit from excellent relations with King Gyanendra Bir Bikram who is familiar with the Catholic Church and appreciates its activity, having been educated at a Catholic school and a pupil of the present Prefect Apostolic, Nepalese Jesuit Father Anthony Sharma.
At present there are about 6,000 Catholics in Nepal. The Catholic Mission was opened in 1983 with territory taken from Patna diocese in India and entrusted to the care of the Jesuit Fathers. It 1996 the Mission was elevated to the rank of Apostolic Prefecture. PA (Fides Service 9/7/2003 EM lines 49 Words: 572)