Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - There is a Christian chapel in the state university of Faisalabad, and is the first place of Christian worship present in a public university in Pakistan. On April 15th, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Faisalabad, in the presence of Muhammad Iqbal Zafar, vice Chancellor, professors, religious, students, inaugurated St. Mary's Church in the atrium of the Agriculture University. As reported to Fides by Archbishop Arshad, the chapel is dedicated to St. Mary. Msgr. Arshad congratulated the entire Christian community of the Agricultural University for promoting the construction of a place of Christian worship, alongside that of the existing Islamic religion. "The presence of a church inside the university enclosure will offer a message of love and harmony throughout the country. Christians will come here to pray for the progress and prosperity of the institute and of Pakistan", he said.
"Today - he added – quoting the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who in his famous speech to the nation in 1947, said "You are free, free to go to your temples, free to go to your mosques or other religious places in this state of Pakistan. You can belong to any religion, caste or creed". The Archbishop thanked the civil and academic authorities for showing sensitivity and interest in offering a place of worship for Christians, respecting religious freedom.
Vice Chancellor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said: "This church was built with the aim of ensuring the religious needs of Christian students and university workers. We believe in inter-religious harmony and in the fact that mosques and churches are both sacred places in which to worship God. A university chapel is a living example of Islamic-Christian brotherhood.
This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that a church was built in the state university. We hope that other institutions follow this example to guarantee the rights of religious minorities, as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan. Christians are our brothers and sisters because God has made all human beings the same".
Archbishop Joseph Arshad also celebrated mass in the new church by anointing the altar and blessing the place. In his homily he thanked God and all those who worked to complete the project, and invited young people to "give importance to higher education and to actively contribute to the common good of Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/4/2018)