Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Young Catholics "show us various ways to serve the nation. They are an example to follow, especially now that our country is in a time of change. Young people must make their contribution," said interim Prime Minister of Nepal Khilaraj Regmi who last night praised young Christians on International Youth Day.
"Many young Nepalis are after material prosperity and money," the prime minister said speaking on national television, "but Catholics give a different example to be followed. We need young people to develop strong national consciousness, which can be used to help the state without waiting for the state to do something for them."
Regmi cited the case of Pushpa Basnet, who in 2012 won the CNN Hero Award. Her work in support of prisoners "was born from the teachings received in Catholic schools." She studied at St Xavier College in the capital.
"Our educational work has played an important role for young people and their future," said Fr Lawrence Maniyar, former Jesuit superior in Nepal. "Several pioneers in the social field have studied with us."
"We greatly appreciate the words of the prime minister," Kishor, a young Catholic from the capital, told AsiaNews. "We try to pass on God's message through service to the needy. We are pleased that the government recognises this dedication because our work transcends religion [since] we try to be of help to everyone."
Despite threats and attacks suffered in recent years, including the terrible attack against Kathmandu cathedral, Nepal's Catholic community has grown in the recent past. Today it can count on 7,000 members, or approximately 0.45 per cent of the population.
Its work, especially in the educational field, is known and respected throughout the country.
In 2011, the government made Christmas a national holiday, allowing Christian processions and events in which hundreds of people of other faiths participate each year.