Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Dialogue and good Muslim-Christian relations are also built with the mutual participation in the major holidays of the respective religions. It so happens that the Lahore Franciscans celebrated Prophet Muhammad’s birthday in an interfaith celebration held in Lahore, in the presence of religious leaders and Muslim faithful and, for the occasion, members of the two communities exchanged Christmas greetings, as reported to Fides by Fr. Victor Sawera OFM, organizer of the event.
"We read passages from the Bible and the Koran. Some Islamic clerics offered the evening prayer in the chapel of the Franciscan center. There were several imams such as Syed Abdul Khabir Azad, Imam of the Royal Mosque in Lahore, who appreciated the celebration of the Prophet's birthday in a Christian home: this can be an example to all citizens of Pakistan", says Fr. Sawera, remarking that "interfaith dialogue and the promotion of peace and harmony are in the DNA of Franciscan spirituality and are indispensable today", stressing "the urgent need to work harder to build peace and harmony among nations and religions. For us Franciscans, to be bridges of peace is a vocation", he concluded.
The same spirit was felt during the Christmas celebrations in recent days by the Embassy of Pakistan in Rome: ambassador Nadeem Riyyaz of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Italy hosted the celebration which was attended by Pakistani seminarians, nuns and priests studying in Rome, as well as members of the general councils of religious congregations who have homes or missions in Pakistan.
As Fides learns, during the feast, accompanied by Christmas carols in Urdu, Punjabi, Italian and English, Fr. Robert McCulloch, Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, thanked ambassador Riyyaz for wanting to host the Christmas party, extending his best wishes for the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-ul-Nabi, Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Christmas is celebrated at the Embassy of Pakistan in Italy for the fifth consecutive year: the tradition was started by Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, currently in the diplomatic service at the United Nations in Geneva, with the intention of working for religious harmony . Both ambassadors have received their formation in Catholic schools in Pakistan. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/12/2016)