Cardinal Blesses the Peace Center in Lahore

Its with great joy that I would like to share this good news with you that the Blessing and Inauguration ceremony of our Peace Center in Lahore took place on 28th of November, 2010. The ceremony started exactly on time at 9.00AM and  at time all the Chief Guest, VVIP guests and other dignitaries  had arrived at the venue of  Peace Center at  Pak Arab Lahore. Fr James Channan OP, Prior Vice Provincial, welcomed the Chief Guest, His Eminence, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican and Guests of Honor; His Excellency, Adolfo, Tito Yllano, Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador of the Vatican), His Grace, Most Rev. Lawrence John Saldahan, Archbishop of Lahore, Most Rev. Bishop Rufin Anthony, Bishop of Islamabad,  Most Rev. Andrew Francis, Bishop of Multan, Most Rev. Bishop Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore (Church of Pakistan), Most Rev. Sebastian Shah, Auxiliary Bishop of Lahore,  and Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque, Lahore and several  other Major Religious  Superiors of the various Catholic  religious Orders, Congregations, Societies along with Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Baha'i leaders

The program began with a prayer for the  Blessing Ceremony led by  His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, a reading and   psalm  from the Holy Bible, Slab of the Inauguration at this  historic blessing of the Peace Center was  unveiled by the Cardinal in the presence of all top religious  leaders and dignitaries. Fr James Channan  escorted the Cardinal to bless the entire building of the Peace Center. After red ribbon was cut and all  guests were invited in the Hall to take their seats. Fr James Channan officially welcome all the Chief Guest, all dignitaries and guests. Miss Zoya Maria, a young Catholic college student presented bouquet to the Chief Guest, Fr Siddique presented Turban and ajrak, (shawl) to the Chief Guest and all other Guest of Honor of the state were garlanded. 

His Eminence expressed his great joy and appreciation at this occasion of the Peace Center.  He said in this Peace Center everything is in great harmony. A peace center is not a place to put magazines and papers to keep but it is a place where men and women look for harmony and peace. He also said that it is our duty to accept what and who we are. He said my personal identity exits if I accept others. His Eminence strongly emphasised that dialogue is based on three things; tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation. He encouraged and appreciated the efforts of the Pakistani Church in promoting interreligious dialogue and peace.

Archbishop Saldanha warmly welcomes His Eminence in the Archdiocese of Lahore for the blessing of the Peace Center. He quoted from the Gospel of St Matthew chapter 5 that "Blessed are the peace makers". He said that Catholic Church always promotes peace and harmony. Now a days, he said, in our country the minorities are facing hatred, jealousy, violence and bloodshed. We can overcome these challenges through interfaith dialogue. He congratulated fr Fr James Channan at this achievement and assured of his prayers and blessings for the success of dialogue in Pakistan.

Bishop Alexander John Malik said, I feel honored to be among you at this great ceremony. I congratulate Fr James Channan for building this beautiful Peace Center which is basic need of our times. This is a land mark not only for us but for the future generations as well. He said that I have seen keen interest of Fr James Channan in interreligious dialogue over the past decades. He has a real commitment and dedication to look forward and promote peace and harmony among the believers of different religions. Bishop Malik said for the the survival of Christians in this country, there only one option and that is interfaith dialogue. He quoted from the Gospel of St John that 'if you cannot love your neighbour you cannot love God."

Bishop Andrew Francis,  Bishop of Multan and Chairman of National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism said that on behalf of the National Commission I warmly welcome the Cardinal in our midst in this Peace Center. He said, this Peace Center is a great step forward in building bridges  between different  faiths an religions in Pakistan. 

Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore and Global Trustee of URI  extended his hearty welcome to the Cardinal and all guests. He said I pay homage to all Bishops and priests who are working for harmony and peace. He said I am over joyed to see so many dignitaries present in the hall at this historic event. I can feel the fragrance  of peace and love among all people present here. The teaching of Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have taught us to spread peace and unity among all people. Let us keep on working for this noble cause. He paid rick tribute to Fr James Channan for many years of dedicated serves and leadership for promoting peace and harmony among believers of various religions. He said that last week he offered prayers for peace, and interreligious harmony during his holy pilgrimage (Hajj) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 

The messages received at this special  occasion from the Most Rev. Fr Bruno Cadore OP, Master of the Dominican Order, Italy,  Mrs. Masami Saionji, Chairperson, World Peace Prayer Society, Japan and the  Right Rev. Bishop William E. Swing, President, United Religions Initiative, USA were read. The congratulation messages received from all these international leaders were received with great joy and appreciation. 

Most Rev. Fr Bruno Cadore OP, the Master General of the Dominican Order,  sent in a special message at this occasion. In his message to Fr James Channan, Fr Carore wrote, " Congratulations to you  and all the Dominicans of Ibn-e-Mariam, Vice Province who have built this Peace Center in Lahore. Although I am unable to be present on 28th of November it gives me great joy to write these few lines on the occasion ofr blessing this center. The importance of inter-religious dialogue has been affirmed by all of our last General Chapters (ACG 1986 Alila,n.22 and ACG 2007 Bogota.82). Dialogue, as many chapters have reminded us is one of the priorities of the Order today and of the Church. "Inter-religious dialogue is a work desired by God and an integral element of the church's evangelizing mission' (John Paul II, 28 April 1987)." Fr Cadore said, "Inter-religious dialogue, especially with Islam, is a priority for the Order. This is so because Dominicans see themselves as open to new challenges and to being on the frontier in order to discover what God's purposes are. Pope John Paul reminded us that 'By dialogue we let God be present in our midst, for as we open ourselves to one another, we open ourselves to God" (5 February 1986)   




In her message at this blissful occasion, Mrs. Masami Saionji, Chairperson, World Peace Prayer Society, Japan said, " It is with great awe and admiration that I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on this history making occasion: the Blessing Ceremony of the Peace Center in Lahore, Pakistan. I am fully convinced that this Peace Center - the first of its kind in Pakistan - will serve as a beacon of hope and strength for all peace-loving people in Pakistan and throughout the world." 


The Right Rev. William E. Swing, President of United Religions Initiative said; "The Peace Center is more than a building. It is a community of peace makers who, amid trying circumstances, have promoted peace and dialogue among religions and cultures in the past. now in the future this building symbolizes a pledge to expand peace building beyond the present scope. "Blessed are the peace makers". Bishop Swing also said that, I have travelled to Pakistan onseveral occasions  and ahve seen firsthand the visionary work of Father James Channan and many of his committed colleagues, especially Grand Imam Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, a URI Global Trustee. I salute you all in the  extraordinary event that is taking place on November, 28."


The building of the Peace Center was a dream of the Dominican friars in Pakistan and this dream was realised under the leadership of fr James Channan, Vice Provincial of Dominican Vice Province. The Dominicans are working all around the world to promote dialogue among religions and cultures and particularly dialogue among Muslims and Christians. All the recent General Chapters of the Dominicans held in Mexico City, Providence, Bogota and Rome underlined important and urgency of interreligious dialogue and it is among its top priority and apostolate. The Dominicans in Pakistan are engaged in this apostolate for the past 50 years and it is bearing forth much fruit. The building of the Peace Center will further enhance their efforts to promote this important work at all levels of life. 


I am very grateful to you for your special prayers and meditation for this event and   for your very generous financial gifts as well. I  could feel your presence and strong peace waves which generated by you in Japan. Thank you much!


Here are some photos of this historic event!  


May Peace Prevail On Earth!

May Peace Prevail in Pakistan!


In peace,


fr James Channan OP   

Pror Vice Provincial, Pakistan

2 December, 2010

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Peace Center is very important institution which is playing a significant role in spite of all the difficulties we are confronted with. A couple of Dominican Friars are active in Christian- Muslim dialogue and they are well known both nationally and internationally for promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue. It is top priority of the Dominican Order in the world and in Pakistan as well.
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