Mariamabad (AsiaNews) Speaking to the faithful gathered for Saturday mass during the 55th National Marian Pilgrimage in Mariamabad (80 km from Lahore), Mgr Lawrence John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore, said that respect for and openness to others are the instruments for a true family life, whilst "abortion is murder of the unborn". In his message to Christian families, the Bishop emphasised the importance of the themes raised in the recent assembly of Asian bishops on the family. As the Gospel commands "What God has joined, man must not put asunder" (Mt. 19:6), Bishop Saldanha condemned divorce reminding those present that the Church forbids divorced people from remarrying. He urged couples to accept and love one another, only thus shall we promote a "real Christian family life". In the same breath, he said abortion was the "murder of the unborn".
"We must acknowledge", he added, "that the birth rate in our country is very high and can negatively affect our quality of life. Never the less, the Church remains opposed to methods that limit the number of children according to the guidelines set by family planning organisations and that are not in accordance with its teachings."
Bishop Saldanha went on to decry the sale of human organs and lavish spending on weddings and warned the faithful against the dangers of an uncontrolled access to the media in the family. "Movies, TV and internet," he pointed out, "can convey immoral ideas about love, sex and marriage. Parents should monitor mass media use in the home."
Akram Masih Gill, a Christian member of the National Assembly, spoke after the bishop. "I have always been devoted to Our Lady," he said. "Some years ago when I was a district councillor, I often came here to pray to her. I pledged that if I could reach an important political position I would get a road built leading up to the shrine and make it easier for pilgrims to reach it. Now I am in the National Assembly and have kept my word." Mr Gill got the government to pay for a two-way road now bearing his name linking Mariamabad to the main highways of the area.
On Sunday, the last day of the pilgrimage, Bishop Joseph Coutts celebrated a mass in which he reasserted the need for unity in the family. He also encouraged pilgrims to take the Holy Family as the example to follow.