Pacem in Terris: Itís Influences and Challenges to Catholics/Christians in Pakistan

Fr James Channan OP

22 March, 2013

Notre Dame University, USA

Pacem in Terris: It’s Influences and Challenges

to Catholics/Christians in Pakistan

First of all I congratulate Bill Purcell and Center for Social Concerns of the Notre Dame University for organizing Catholic Social Tradition Conference entitled; Peace Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Celebrating 50 Years since Pacem in Terris,  encyclical of Pope John XXIII. This is  indeed very significant  international   conference. I feel immense peace and joy to participate! 

I am deeply impressed that the organizers  have given such an importance to my country – Pakistan,  which is confronted with so many challenges and crises. On the one side there are people  who are determined to promote peace, justice, human rights, reconciliation, healing, interreligious dialogue and equality for all, with discrimination towards none. While on the other side there are people and forces who are contrary to peace and  they keep on promoting;  terrorism, extremism, fanaticism, violence, injustice and conflicts of all sorts based on religious, ethnic, political, geographical and  linguistic affiliations.

There is a constant struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, justice and injustice, fanaticism and respect for all and religious freedom. We are living in a very challenging situation.

In such a situation the encyclical of Pope John XXIII is of prime importance which has set before all men and women of good will, an immense task for all around the world and for us in Pakistan.  For example, in number 163 of the encyclical we read an I quote, “Hence among the very serious obligations incumbent upon men of high principles, we must include the task of establishing new relationships in human society, under the mastery and guidance of truth, justice, charity and freedom relations between individual citizens, between citizens and their respective states, between States, and finally between individuals, families, intermediate associations and States on the one hand, and the world community on the other. There is  surely no one who will not consider this a most exalted task, for it is one which is able to bring about true peace in accordance with divinely established order.

Although this encyclical was written 50 years ago it is very significant for our times as well.  Rather it’s  importance in Pakistan is  much more relevant and it poses us great challenges to overcome  the crises we are faced with  and thus establish lasting peace  in Pakistan.  This encyclical has established principles that are  featured  in some of the documents of the Vatican Council II. All  Popes after John XXIII,  Paul VI,   John Paul II, Benedict XVI gave prime importance to truth, justice, charity and religious freedom. I am sure our newly elected  Pope Francis will also do the same  to these aspects so that peace may prevail on earth. Pope Francis choose his name to follow the great example of St. Francis of Assisi who is a model of peace with entire creation and in following our Savior Lord  Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace.  So wonderful to know that Pacem in Terris was the first encyclical that the Pope did not address to the Catholics only, but to “all  men of good will”. So it  is for all people of Pakistan, both Christians and Muslims and people of all other religions. It encourages us and inspires to do  what  is good, based on truth, justice and charity to bring peace and harmony in our society.  Peace is an ongoing process, it is not an absence of war – which unfortunately we do not have in Pakistan – absence of war- We are living in a war like situation  after the 9/11 horrific incident.  To come out of this war like situation is an uphill battle. We go two steps forward and one step backward. However, our struggle does not end until there is peace all around us. And true and lasting  peace, I believe, can be achieved only when we have peace in our hearts, peace in our families, peace in our cities and countries. We cannot give what you do not have. If we  have peace in your hearts we  will be able to  give to others.

 Pope John tells us that  how difficult the task of peace is and how few are the number of people who are dedicated to this task. In the encyclical Number 164 we read and I quote; “Considering the need, the men who are shouldering this responsibility as far too few in numberyet they are deserving of the highest recognition from society, and We rightfully honor them with Our   public praise. We call upon them to persevere in their ideals, which are of such tremendous benefit to mankind. At the same time We are encouraged to hope that many more men, Christians especially, will join their cause,spurred on by love and the realization of their duty. Every one who has joined the ranks of Christ must be glowing point of light in the world, a nucleus of love, a leaven of the whole mass. He will be so in proportion to his degree of spiritual union with God.”

This message is even more relevant now, in the year 2013  for us in Pakistan, both for Christians and Muslims where we are confronted with so many problems.

 Historical Background of Christianity. Historically speaking the establishment and planting  of the seed  of  Christianity in this land  goes back to the year 45 A.D.  to  52 A.D.  when according to the Parthian Tradition,  St. Thomas the Apostle came 3 times to this  land which is Pakistan today.  He followed the command and mission which was given to him  by Jesus Christ, about  which we read, for example,  in the Gospel according to St Matthew 28.18-20  “Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commandments I gave you. And look, I am with you always,  yes, to the end of time.”   This is what  St Thomas did for our land of the sub-continent he travelled all the way from Jerusalem and reached  here after much hardships of travelling but with great enthusiasm to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  That very site Sir Koop  close to  Texila, about an hour drive from Islamabad, the capitol of Pakistan. He preached and evangelized the people here. Seeing this historical fact we see that Christianity was born here  during the very first century of Christian era.   However, for several centuries, Christians  remained a small  minority and the is true even today.  So we have to find our role which we must play as a religious minority in our context.

Islam which was born in 610AD and  was introduced  in this land in  712 AD with the arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim and later on Islam spread here,   especially,  by the Muslim Sufis (mystics) such as;  Khawja Muin-ul Din Chishti, Bab Farid, Bahauddin Zikria, Shah Ruken-e-Alam and Data Gang Baksh etc.  They played a  major  role in spreading the message of Islam and converting people to Islam. Their shrines attract millions of Muslim pilgrims from all over. 

 Pakistan got independence on  14th of August 1947 from the British Raj  under the able  leadership and struggle  of Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  The Christian  political leadership took active part in the Pakistan movement and favored Muhammad Ali Jinnah and voted in favor of Pakistan, and thus opted to remain in this land.  We are the sons and daughters of this soil.

Since the inception of Pakistan Christians are in the context of Islam as religion of the majority who   form 96 % of the population of Pakistan and  Christians remain a tiny minority of 2% with the population of a little over 3.5 million out of around 180 people of Pakistan. There are 7 Catholic Dioceses and 8 Church of Pakistan (Protestant) Dioceses.  

The character of Pakistan underwent a radical change with the military coup of General Muhammad  Zia-ul Haq in July 1977. He led Pakistan to become an Islamic state in a strict sense and through a change in the Constitution. Pakistan minorities were removed from the main stream through the apartheid  system of ‘Separate Electorates”. The Separates Electorates  made Christians all other minorities second class citizens. Zia-ul Haq was the man behind to create hatred and violence in the name of  religion. He suppressed our basic human rights, our dignity and violated our religious freedom and worship. He supported militancy in the country and provided weapons to the militant groups. With the efforts of minorities and constant criticism and  condemnation of such a system it  was abolished finally  by another military dictator General Pervaiz Musharraf in 2002.

Pope John lays great emphasis on basic human rights in this order: the right of life, bodily integrity, food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, necessary social services (a.11); the right to respect for one’s person, good reputation, freedom to search for the truth, freedom of speech, freedom of information (a.12); the right of worship (a.14); freedom to choose one’s state of life and to form a family (a.15); freedom of initiative in the economic field, the right to work (a.18); the right to adequate working conditions (a.19), proper wage (a.20), private property (a.21), freedom of assembly and association (23), the right to  juridical protection of rights (a.27);  and the right to act freely and responsibly (a.34). This what we want to see in Pakistan we are struggling for to that they may be peace on earth, peace in our land. For that we have to work very hard, keep on raising our voices  and be ready to give sacrifices if required.  

Pope John also reminds us and points out that people possessing these rights have the duty to claim them as marks of their dignity (a.44). Moreover, these rights must be acknowledged and respected by others, and also affectively fulfilled (a.32). They should be regulated so as not to threaten others in the exercise of their own rights, and when they are violated, they should be completely restored. Pope John praises the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights(a.144). We as Pakistani Christians are fulfilling our duties. We are faith citizens of our country and we have made every effort of the development and prosperity of our country and our services are recognized by the government  in different fields of life especially in the armed forces, education, interfaith dialogue, peace building, film, art, music, literature and social work etc.

Pope John reminds us that worst offense against peace, of course, is war, as he quotes Pope Pius XII, and I quote: “Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war” (a.116).  Pakistan choose to join war against terrorism and by  becoming the allied over  43,000 Pakistanis have been killed resulting for  terrorist and suicide attacks and bombings. This loss of lives is much higher than we lost in two wars against India in 1965 and 1971. Pope John has very clearly addressed the miseries of war and wrote that international difference must be settled, not by force, nor by deceit of trickery, but by assessing the conflicting position and reconciling the differences (a.93). That is which is so much needed in Pakistan to settle disputed through dialogue and not by force. There is a big lesson for Pakistan that it must avoid war and but settle problems through dialogue with the parties concerned. Pakistan must seek ways to resolve all issue through dialogue and  not war, the idea which is so strongly presented by Pope John in Pacem in Terris. 

Our  mutual challenges and  issues:

There are 4 main challenges we are confronted with. These were discussed and agreed upon in a very high level meetings of 20 intellectuals and religious leaders (I was part of this group) gathered in Turkey in March, 2012 to discuss the  situation of Pakistan. These are for all citizens of Pakistan. And they are:

1)   Modernity versus Orthodoxy: That means conflicting views between the liberal and conservative versions of Islam, cultural values, socials norms, and varying degree of interpretation of some fundamental tenets of Islam that leads to conflicts and  division of Muslim in liberal and orthodox followers. For example orthodoxy  was started by Deobandi school of thought in Pakistan, according to Mr. Imtiaz Gul.  Role of minority in an  Islamic state, who has the right to implement Sharia, and to declare Jihad, role of women in society and who to decide, conflicting view about pictures, photos, art and culture, Islamic or global banking system, mainstream parties are secular but cannot influence on misuse of religion.

2)    Misuse of religion as conflict: This means the use of Islam by politicians/governments for political ends like the misinterpretation of concepts such as jihad – a concept that the Americans, Pakistanis and others invoked to launch the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army invoked the same for its political objectives in the Indian Kashmir, thereby inviting and inciting the people into violence, jihad and exclusion of others. This also sits at the root of the Indo-Pakistan tensions.

3)   Misplaced perceptions of non-Muslims : That is to say  rigid, clichéd views on followers of the West, of other faiths, stereotyping of Hindus, Jews, and Christians for instance. Another related dimension of this phenomenon is the sense of superiority among Muslims; Muslims at large, because of training and teachings, consider Christian, Hindus and other non-Muslims as lesser Pakistanis. I would also like to add biased syllabus, what is taught to children in the schools. Its presents very negative pictures of Christians and Hindus. There are misrepresentations of their religious beliefs and they are looked down upon and Islam is presented and the superior religion.    

4)   Crisis of identity:  That means people are not  really sure how to prioritize their identify i.e.  Whether they are Pakistanis first, Punjabis first, Balochis first, Muslim or  Christian first or what?  Essentially, the over-emphasis on religion has obscured the Pakistan-hood of people living in Pakistan. They have failed to get as one nation and are still divided along ethnic lines. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda-inspired ideology has added another dimension to this conflict because for Islamists the entire world belongs to the Muslims.

 

Some achievements to overcome  these challenges:

1.     Our Christian community is very vocal and it raises voice against the injustices and discriminations done towards them and towards other religious minorities and discriminated on the basic of gender and caste.  

2.     We have been and are playing very prominent role  in the field of education through schools and  colleges. Christians are running two types of schools; English Medium and Urdu Medium. In the English Medium are mainly for the economically well off Muslims and Christians. It is a great service and witness of Christians. Several heads of the states Prime Minsters such as; Ms. Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Shaukat Aziz and Yousaf Raza Gillani Presidents such as; General Pervaiz Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari have been educated in our Christian schools and colleges. Several other top officials are the former students of Christians educational institutes. 

3.     Christian community is pioneer in promoting Christian Muslim dialogue. Although dialogue between Christians and Muslims is going since the birth of Pakistan in 1947, at difference levels and forms such as dialogue of life, dialogue words, dialogue of deeds, dialogue of religious experience and dialogue among intellectuals. An official dialogue  commission known as “National Commission for Christian Muslim Dialogue” (Rabita Commission)  was established in 1985 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan with Bishop John Joseph as its first Chairperson and myself as Executive Secretary. Such dialogue commissions were also established at the diocesan levels as well.   

4.     Christian Study Center, Rawalpindi.  This center was established in around 1967 by the Protestant Churches, exclusively for the aim of promoting Christian Muslim dialogue. The CSC is ecumenical in nature. It keep on organizing seminars, workshops and conferences on peace building, education,   human rights and Christian Muslim dialogue. It also publishes a magazine called “Al-Mushir” (The Councilor) with articles on peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims. This CSC is carrying on this work  very successfully.

5.      Dominican  Peace Center, Lahore.  This center is  another very important  institution which is  playing a significant role in spite of all the difficult situations we are confronted with. A couple of  Dominican friars are highly qualified in Christian Muslim dialogue and they are  well known both nationally and internationally for promoting peace and  interfaith dialogue. The climax  of the Dominicans  priority of this apostolate  was manifested in  building a Peace Center in Lahore which was inaugurated and blessed on 28th of November, 2010  by His Eminence, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran,  President of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican. At this grace filled occasion the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Adolfo Titu Yllana,  President of the Catholic Bishops Conference Pakistan, Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha,  Chairman of the  Catholic Bishops National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, Bishop Andrew Francis, Bishop of Islamabad/Rawalpindi Diocese, Bishop Rufin Anthony,   Church of Pakistan Bishop Alexander John Malik, and President of Major Religious Superiors Leadership Conference, Fr Ahid Habib OFM Cap, and from the Muslims side Grand Imam of the second largest mosque in Pakistan  Badshahi (Royal) Mosque, Lahore, ( This mosque is so large that 100,000 people can offer prayers at a time) Maulana Adbul Khabir Azad were present among several other dignitaries. It was a manifestation that hiw important this apostolate is and how people of good will both Christians and Muslims are taking this challenge of Christian Muslim dialogue very seriously.

Basically it was my dream to build such a center and it gave me immense joy to see this dream become a reality. Myself  as  Director  regularly organize meetings, seminars and conferences in this Peace Center. This center has already earned good reputation both at national and international levels.  In this Peace Center we organize and celebrate International Days such as: International Day of Peace, International Women’s Day, International Day of Rural Women, International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, World Interfaith Harmony Week, International Labor Day.  Festivals of Christians and Muslims such as  Christmas and Eidul Fitr  are jointly  celebrated. We also publish quarterly magazine called Umang from here. The launching ceremony of the books are also arranged here. Three of my books “Christian Muslim Dialogue in Pakistan” in English and two Urdu books entitled:  “Pakistan Main Masihi Muslim Mukalama” (Christian Muslim Dialogue in Pakistan) and “Muhabat Ka Rasta” (Way of Love) are published from here. My one new book  is in  the pipeline to be published by June, 2013. We have also established  a library which offers  a good range of books on different topics both on Christianity and Islam.  Nostra Aetate Foundation from the Vatican have sent in books, on Christian teachings, commentaries, mysticism  and encyclicals for the Center so that this center will serve as good resource center. We want to further enhance the activities of our Peace Center. We want to have a programs to promote peace, dialogue and harmony. We plan to further make our library a good source of knowledge for all those who want to do research on peace, capacity building, peace education, peace building and Catholic social teachings.

6.      United Religions Initiative (URI) . This another organization which is working for promoting interfaith dialogue, harmony, justice  and peace.  URI is an international organization which is working in 82 countries.  There are 43 URI CCs (Cooperation Circles) working in Pakistan which I have established and trying their best to establish a culture of peace, healing and reconciliation. URI is registered NGO with the UN and Ms. Monica Willard, URI leader at the UN is the President of the Religions NGOs at the UN. The Regional Office of the URI is at Peace Center, Lahore. “The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”

 

7.      To further enhance this important work of Christian Muslim dialogue two Muslims scholars; Mr. Sohail Ahmed Raza, Director of Interfaith Relations, Minhajul Quran International and Dr. Muhammad Zaman Nazi, Professor, Forman Christian College (Chartered University) Lahore are sent to Rome while receiving Vatican scholarship from Nostra Aetate Foundation  to study about Christianity in various universities; such as at Pontifical Gregoriana University,  St Thomas Aquinas University (Angelicum) and  Pontifical Institute of  Islamic Studies and Arabic Language (PISAI). Mr. Sohail successfully completed his last studies  year in June and came back as a transformed person. He is contributing immensely in promoting Christian Muslim dialogue. Prof. Muhammad Zaman Nazi is studying in Rome right now and will complete his studies in June and return to Pakistan.

8.     The Catholic Bishops’ Conference Pakistan and Major Superiors Leadership Conference Pakistan issued a Joint Statement on 12th of   November, 2008. It was issued in response to the strong wave of   terrorism and extremism our country is confronted with during these days. This statement manifests an inspiration from Pacem in Terris The statement says;

” Realizing that this has created complex difficulties in all walks of life, it was also realized that we are called to be signs of hope for all. In order to be so, we have decided to take the following concrete steps:

i.         Promote faith formation of our communities through catechesis, Bible  studies, prayer by means of media and train our lay-leaders.

  1. Organize awareness programs in Parishes, Institutions, families etc. in order to bring about peace, harmony and better understanding among diverse faith communities.
  2. Work for inter-religious dialogue of life and ecumenism.”

In the light of this statement we see the Catholic Church is committed in Pakistan  to promote peace, harmony and inter-religious dialogue.

Four Pillars of peace:  In his message for the World Day of Peace 2003, Pope John Paul II says, Peace calls for 4 essential conditions “Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom” Pope John Paul II, proposes these “pillars of peace inspired  by Pope John XXIII’ encyclical “Pacem in Terris”. In 2003 there was 40 was 40 years of celebration of this great encyclical “Pacem in Terris”. To act upon all these pillars provides a very firm foundation for peace to be established. This what we need in Pakistan and this is what we need in the world. However, our country has to go a long way to accomplish  these  goals.

9.     The Church of Pakistan Bishops (Protestant) are also in front line in promoting justice, peace, religious freedom and dialogue  among religions. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore diocese and The Rt. Rev. Samuel Robert Azriah, Bishop of  Raiwind diocese and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan have established interreligious dialogue. Justice and peace  committees. They are ardent promoters of  ecumenical dialogue. The Catholic Church and other Churches also observe Week of Christian Unity from  18 to 25 January every year. Several seminars, conferences and prayer services are conducted to observe this week of Christian unity in a befitting manner.

 

10.  Christian community is playing an important role in politics all though it could be better. I would like to mention our pride and hero  Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti . He was an international personality;  well  recognized and respected  political leader, human rights activist, promote of justice, equality, peace, religious freedom, interfaith dialogue and ecumenism.  As Federal Minister of Religious Minorities, he was able to convince  the government to approve 4 seats for minorities in the Senate, declare 11th of August as Minorities Day, 5 % quota in the federal services. He also played a leading role in abolishing the apartheid system of Separate  Electorates.  He was  vocal to criticize the miss use of controversial blasphemy laws and wanted to get these often misused laws. He was assassinated by the militants on 2nd of March, 2011 in Islamabad.  I am sure his sacrifice will always be remembered with admiration.  I hope and pray that one day will be declared Saint and a martyr by our Catholic Church.

11.   Mr. Akram Masih Gill has been the  State Minister of the Ministry of   National Harmony Pakistan to promote harmony, peace  and dialogue among people of different religions and especially among Christians and Muslims.  Mr. Paul Bhatti has been the   Advisor to the Prime Minister for this National Harmony. He is also making efforts for peace and interfaith dialogue.

The Ministry of  National Harmony organized several conferences under the leadership of Akram Masih Gill and Paul Bhatti. The most significant ones were the National Conference  on  the theme of “Living Together with Diversity: Inter-faith and Inter-Cultural Dialogue” on 20th of February, 2013  in which His Excellency, Raja Pervaiz Asharaf, Prime Minister of Pakistan was the Chief Guest. I was honored to speak on behalf of the Christians in this conference where I highlighted and emphasized the need of interfaith harmony, justice and equal rights of all and human dignity. Just after two days of this conference there was another National Conference on 22nd of February  by the National Harmony on the same topic in which His Excellency, Asif Alif Zardari, the President of Pakistan was the Chief Guest. After these conferences Islamabad Declaration was issued.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf as Chief Guest of this conference   highly appreciated the efforts of the National Harmony for organizing this conference. He said, Interfaith harmony and peace are imperative needs of the time in Pakistan. All religions preach the message of  peace, love and respect of the rights of the other. No religion  preaches killing of the other. This message  was also preached by the mystics  and people liked that very much. There is  only a small number of people who have rejected this message of love, peace and harmony.  No  religion gives  me the right to force upon others my will and force them to do what I want. The Prime Minster said we must follow our own religions and we must not enforce our religious philosophy upon the other. Let us  respect the religion of the other. This is  a need of our time. If we will not do it today then when  will be do it?  We want to live in peace  and reach out for dialogue with our neighbors.  Let us take this message to every home that our religions do not teach to hate the other. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and all other religions  teach and preach the message of love. We must learn to  live in peace with rest of the world. There should not be war of  religions and war of civilizations.

In his inaugural speech  Dr. Paul Bhatti said we are all one as a nation and  we  totally reject all forms of intolerance, hatred and violence done in the name of religion. Our country has become a symbol of terrorism in the word. All of us must work and promote  interfaith dialogue and harmony. Mr. Akram Masih Gill, State Minister  emphasized that our government has  established this ministry to make a policy to established a peaceful culture.

I  was also invited to give a speech  on behalf of the Christian community in Pakistan.  I said, dialogue among religions is a need of the time. Religious leaders have an important role to play to promote interreligious dialogue and peace. We  must use every forum for this purpose and especially religious leaders must  give this message of interreligious dialogue and peace in the places of worship such as mosques, churches and temples.

During the round table discussion after the break, the following points emerged very strongly as recommendation for the“Pakistan Interfaith and Harmony came up with Islamabad Declaration” from the sharing and suggestions of several Muslim, Christian and Hindu leaders:

a.       Establish Interfaith Dialogue Council in which prominent personalities of all religions  will be the members.

b.       The word “Minorities”  should be discarded and replace it with some other appropriate words like ‘non-Muslims”  for the Pakistani  Christians, Hindus and members of different religions.   (This will give them respect and a  equality)

c.        Special chapters must be part of the educations curriculum in the schools on interreligious dialogue and fundamental beliefs and teachings on peace, love, tolerance and reconciliation of other religions (e.g. Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism etc.)

d.       The government must take  appropriate measures  to prevent misuse of Blasphemy laws, as over 1.200  persons (men, women and children)  have been accused and booked these laws (295 B and 295C) to settle personal scores or land disputes.

e.        The electronic and print media  give more coverage to the interfaith dialogue and peace programs in the country.

f.        The root causes of terrorism, violence and intolerance must be tackled  to make Pakistan an abode of peace and harmony.

g.        The government of Pakistan must take steps to take  message of interfaith harmony and peace at grass roots level and thus form dialogue groups at district and local levels.

 

It’s  worth mentioning that our Muslim brothers and sisters are also very much in favor of dialogue among religions and cultures. Several dialogue organizations are    established by the Muslims such as by Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Hafiz  Zubair Ahmed Zaheer, Maulana Javed Akbar Saqi, Allama Zubair Abid, Allama Tahir Mehmood Asharafi  and Mualana Hafeez Jalandhry. That is good omen. These religious leaders have organized and participated in many interfaith conference both in Pakistan and around the world. They are ardent promoter of human rights, religious freedom, interfaith dialogue and respect for all. They very often come to TV channel to ease tensions which arise among  Christians and Muslims, between Hindus and Muslims.

There are many challenges that we are faced with. Such is the  situations in which   we have to play our important role for the betterment of our society.  That is because of our being in a minority – that itself is a beauty – we are called “ to be the salt of the earth and light of the world.” (Cf. Matt.5.13-14). We must never loose our saltiness and light. We may be presenting the face of the suffering Christ. Our Church is a suffering Church in Pakistan. Persecutions of Christians are  not something new for  us. The Christians  have been facing  such persecutions right from its birth. But suffering is not the end – our model is Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose on the 3rd  day. So are the our sufferings. They do not lead us to disappointment or defeat. They lead us to  victory. What is required from  us is to remain faithful and bear these hardships with courage, determinations and commitment. Christ is our model.  

The Pacem in Terris offers us a great inspiration and helps us to meet the challenges we are confronted with. I  believe  that we shall overcome someday. And one day universal peace in truth, justice, charity and liberty will be established, as envisioned by Pope John XXIII.  Amen!

 

May Peace Prevail On Earth!

May Peace Prevail in Pakistan!

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