ASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Shaw: "A Ramadan of Dialogue and Peace"

Friday, 23 June 2017 dialogue   human rights   islam   local churches   christianity   peace   religious minorities  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "We lived an interreligious peace campaign during Ramadan, where we planted olive trees in front of Christian churches, mosques, madrassas, Catholic schools and Islamic institutes. It was a significant and visible initiative where Christian and Muslim religious people and leaders showed that they want to work together for coexistence and peace in Pakistan. We are happy that the holy month of Ramadan was characterized by this common effort and desire for peace", said Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, who is at the head of the archdiocese of Lahore and is president of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. The Archbishop notes to Fides that "interreligious dialogue is a path that we will continue, despite the difficulties and the existence of radical or violent groups who intend to sow interreligious hatred".
At the end of Ramadan, the feast of Id-al Fitr will be characterized by convivial moments organized by Pakistani Islamic leaders, in the various dioceses of Pakistan, to which the Christians will participate, as a sign of solidarity, sharing and "good neighborhood".
Such meetings during Ramadan have represented the opportunity to show that "the Gospel teaches to respond to evil with good", notes the Archbishop, as evidenced by a recent episode: after the tragic death of Christian worker Irfan Masih (who cleaned roads and sewers), who died because a Muslim doctor refused to touch and take care of him and said that he was "impure", the association that brings together ecologist operators in Pakistan has organized an Iftar dinner (a moment in the evening in which Muslims break their fasting) in a church in Lahore, in a sign of friendship and solidarity with the Muslim faithful: "A sign to show the will to be in harmony, despite some painful and negative episodes", notes the Archbishop. "In the name of our brother Irfan Masih, we invite all religious communities to gather in the name of common humanity. We are men and women created by God in our beloved homeland. Our religions teach us to love. We walk together", said the Christian leaders, organizers of the event.
Similar initiatives were also held in the diocese of Faisalabad, where the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue organized a "iftar dinner" in recent days hosting numerous Muslim religious leaders to strengthen the relations of peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians". On this occasion, Fr. Nisar Barkat read Pope Francis's wishes for Ramadan. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/6/2017)