Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – A population census in Pakistan is urgently needed, to also update the data related to religious minorities: is the request raised by the Pakistani Bishops gathered in recent days in Lahore in their annual assembly. The census is important for the good governance of the State and for better management of social services and equitable distribution of resources, they said in a statement sent to Fides. Furthermore, Christians and other religious communities wish to know more precisely the size of the population, in order to provide adequate service to the faithful.
Given the rumors about a possible upcoming census launched by the government, the Bishops have invited priests, catechists and teachers to sensitize the Christian population to register their names in the data collection process. The last census conducted in Pakistan dates back to 1998 and a new one had been planned in 2016, but has not yet been made official.
Social issues were also raised during the meeting of the Bishops' Conference, and the government was asked to respect the provision that assigns a certain percentage of jobs in the public service to religious minorities: "We appeal to the government so that it supports this practice, and controls irregularities", the statement said and also condemns "the increasing corruption in the country" and the management of public affairs in accordance with private interests.
The Bishops also referred to the issue of a possible change to the law regulating Christian marriage in the country (Christian Marriage Act) that dates back to 1872. For this purpose, the Catholic Church, along with all the main Christian Protestant denominations, is studying a bill to reform the old set of rules and be in close contact and coordination with Christian Minister Kamran Michael, Pakistani executive who deals with human rights and religious minorities.
The Bishops have appealed for calm and peace in the country, inviting everyone to build "peaceful coexistence", freeing themselves from "the tight grip of extremism, sectarian killings, terrorism and insecurity". (PA) ( Agenzia Fides 25/11/2016)