Kasur (AsiaNews) The "Mother Mary" Bible Study Group is one year old. Its 35 young members gathered to celebrate the event at the Fr Jerome Hall at the parish church in Kasur, 55 kilometres south of Lahore.
"I wish to congratulate the young people for the time they dedicated to learning about Jesus through the Holy Bible," said Fr Emmanuel Asi, a well-known Bible teacher.
"After home duties and working in the fields or in factories, you came for a whole year to show your love and desire to know the Bible more deeply," he said.
"In this busy age it is a great thing to give time for such regular learning and I wish that through your interest you may become strong in your faith," he added.
Anil Raja, who chairs the group, thanked the Fr Inayat Bernard, the parish priest, who "found the time to be with us every Saturday".
Raja also thanked Margaret Piara, the director of the Lahore-based Milap Organisation, which contributed to group's formation by donating various copies of the New Testament and by giving its members gifts at Christmas and Easter.
"The group," he concluded, "exists thanks to Father Bernard, Milap and the young people of the parish."
P. Bernard thanked Father Asi recalling "his important visit" of October 2, 2004, when "he spoke about the geography of the Scriptures using a map of Israel and described his own experiences in that land."
Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country with a population of 143 million. Muslims represent 96.1 per cent of the total, whilst Christians are about 2.5 per cent or 3.8 million. Catholics are just under 1.3 million.
The Christian minority has often the object of discrimination and violence on the part of Muslim extremists.
The latest case dates back only to April 23, 2005, when a young Christian from Mandi Bahaud Din, a village 175 south of Islamabad, was beaten up by young Muslims and left in a field near death.
His attackers admitted that their violent attack "did not have any precise motive". (IB)