Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - With a joint reading of passages from the Holy Bible and the Koran, the closing ceremony of the celebrations commemorating the 800 years since the conversation between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al was held in recent days in Lahore-Kamil, which took place in 1219: the eighth centenary of that historic meeting had wide echo in Pakistan throughout 2019. The closing of the special Jubilee was celebrated in Lahore, in the presence of numerous Christian and Muslim leaders.
As Fides learns, among those present, Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, stressed that "the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan occurred in an atmosphere of fear and danger, but that fear turned into dialogue which led to peace and friendship". "We can learn to promote peace and coexistence from Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan", he added, promising "support for the promotion of peace, harmony, tolerance in society".
Beside him, Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, agreed stating that "it is necessary to accept each other in society as Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil did, to promote peaceful coexistence".
Among the civil authorities, Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities and Minister of Interreligious Dialogue in Punjab, said he "appreciated the significant ceremony" by noting that "the government promotes tolerance and harmony in society and intends to continue developing a policy of inter-religious peace and harmony in order to promote the spirit of coexistence in society".
Numerous Muslim and Hindu religious leaders attended this ceremony, ensuring their commitment "to support the cause of humanity for a prosperous and harmonious society in Pakistan, bearing in mind the peace initiative experienced centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi and of the Sultan".
In the assembly there were students from different schools who presented a theatrical performance inspired by the prayer of peace of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Pakistani song "Is percham k saye talay eik hain - We are one thing". The youth of the Capuchin Franciscan student residence in Lahore presented a dramatization of the encounter of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan. The ceremony ended with a solemn commitment by all those present to be "instruments and peacemakers in Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/1/2020)