Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - Cardinal Joseph Coutts, is the first Catholic to be unanimously elected president of the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi, a neighboring city of Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. The Cardinal was chosen to head the Ecumenical center, which has been engaged for more than 50 years in the promotion of interfaith dialogue and social harmony in the country. In an interview with Agenzia Fides, the Cardinal declared: "This is a unique Center of its kind in Pakistan, established by the Protestant Churches to promote understanding of Islam and Christian-Muslim dialogue. All the main Christian denominations present in Pakistan are part of it". The Archbishop adds: "Since its opening in 1967, Catholics have been involved, some as members of the council, others as guest lecturers and participants in the programs.
However, it is the first time in its history that a Catholic has been chosen as President".
Cardinal Joseph Coutts, whose episcopal motto is "harmony", has always been involved in the activities of the Center: "During the last decade, I have presented all our young Bishops to this Center to involve them in this mission of promoting interfaith dialogue and social harmony in their dioceses".
Referring to the mission of the Center, Cardinal Coutts said: "The purpose of the Center is to assist the Churches in Pakistan in the path to acquire a greater understanding of the relationship between Islam and Christianity and to reflect on their particular nature, of their call as a Church in this nation. It intends to encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims and promote peaceful coexistence and cooperation in different sectors of society".
The Christian Study Center is also known for its publication "Al-Mushir", a quarterly magazine published in English and Urdu, appreciated by Christians and Muslims, which deals with theological and cultural issues in the areas of Islamic-Christian relations. As part of the interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, Al-Mushir also publishes academic articles that increase awareness of the religious and cultural context of Pakistan. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 10/2/2021)