Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "The Catholic community in Pakistan is multilingual and multicultural, includes people from various tribes, ethnic groups, nations and cultures. The main challenge we face is the shortage of priests, but at the same time we appreciate lay catechists who work with great zeal to help our priests: in some dioceses priests have to travel more than 3 hours to celebrate Mass for the faithful. The pastoral ministry proceeds thanks to the fundamental help of lay catechists": says to Agenzia Fides Archbishop emeritus of Karachi, Mgr. Evarist Pinto, 84, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priesthood.
The Archbishop recalls that, following his motto "Go and make disciples", he worked to promote the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, strengthening the presence and action of the laity in the Church, forming and developing various commissions in order to ensure that Pakistani lay Catholics were fully integrated in the pastoral care of the Church.
Archbishop Pinto, during his ministry, was known for his closeness to the different communities he continually visited: "I tried to accompany people and ensure that the Bishop was always present at the service of the faithful. In the light of the Second Vatican Council, we worked to strengthen lay movements in the diocese of Karachi such as Jesus Youth, Community of Sant'Egidio and the Neocatechumenal Way or by supporting the already existing lay movements such as the Charismatic Renewal and the Focolare Movement. The objective was to promote the spirit of discipleship and apostolate of the laity in the Church", he explained to Fides.
Engaged in Karachi, a metropolitan city in southern Pakistan, Archbishop Pinto notes that "the Church of Karachi has grown very fast, new communities are flourishing". Immediately after the independence of Pakistan, the Church began to focus on the people of various cultures, especially from the south of India. In the 1960s, people from the province of Punjab began to migrate to the city of Karachi in search of work. In the last three decades, responding to an existing need, the Archdiocese established ten more parishes and the eleventh has almost begun".
For many years a Pastor in Karachi, the Archbishop illustrates its distintive characteristic: "Karachi is a cosmopolitan city, which includes people of different languages and cultures that make the face of the Church in Karachi cosmopolitan. After Pakistan's independence, the Church started serving English communities, then Urdu and Punjabi. The Church of Karachi expanded very fast, communities prosper, which is a positive sign: distances are vast but one can easily travel thanks to the good network of roads and transport system".
Today the Archbishop emeritus, who is a biblical scholar, dedicates himself to the Biblical apostolate, still teaches in both the seminaries of the Archdiocese, continuing to study the Scriptures and writing books (many of his books have been translated into Urdu, national language in Pakistan), is dedicated to formation programs and retreats for religious and lay groups.
"Now I am 84 years old but I am still passionate about spreading the Good News", he notes. He is able to communicate in more than 25 languages and speaks 10 fluently (like Latin, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Punjabi, Konkani and the scriptural languages Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic). (AG) (Agenzia Fides, 8/1/2017)