ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christians united in prayer and deed, in the name of "clemency"

Thursday, 26 January 2017 religious minorities   ecumenicalism   dialogue   prayer   peace   islam   social works  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The Week for the unity of Christians in Pakistan, today concludes in Lahore, with an ecumenical prayer vigil, which saw the four largest Christian denominations pray, meet, reflect and share experiences during this special time. The four major Christian communities in the country are: the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church (known as the "Church of Pakistan"), the Presbyterian Church, the Salvation Army community.
During the solemn prayer of the inauguration of the Week, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, the leader of the Catholic diocese of Lahore, said that "the unity of the Christian Churches in Pakistan is developing year after year", involving the baptized both in prayer and in social works, as happened with "doctors working in different hospitals". Speaking to Fides, the Archbishop said: "Our working together has grown in peacetime. We remained united in moments of crisis and pain, but it is good that understanding and cooperation increasingly strengthens".
Even Ifran Jamil, the Anglican Bishop of Lahore, stressed the theme of mutual understanding and harmony: "We Christians have the honor to be ambassadors of Christ. The world expects from us that we promote peace and harmony among all nations of the world. Our unity through prayer is visible and encouraging".
Fr. Inayat Bernard, a Catholic priest, rector of the Seminary of Santa Maria in Lahore, tells Fides that "since 2012 the four main Churches meet regularly and organize together the Week for Unity, with prayer meetings, conferences, moments of reflection. We have also set a date to live next Christmas together".
The baptized in Pakistan account for about 2% of the population (1% are Catholics and 1% of other Christian denominations) and are strongly committed to the development of the country through schools, hospitals and other assistance services, very much appreciated by Muslims. They are promoters of important values such as dialogue, respect and peaceful coexistence.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Franciscan from Lahore tells Fides, "clemency is the hallmark of Pakistan's Christians, even when they live moments of difficulty. When we suffer violence, evangelical clemency is our response, following the example of Christ: He is the foundation of Christians trust of Pakistan in the fight against evil or hatred". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/01/2017)