03/26/2013, 00.00
NEPAL

In the footsteps of Pope Francis, young Nepali Catholics are ready for mission

by Kalpit Parajuli
Nearly a thousand people took part in Palm Sunday Mass at Kathmandu Cathedral. Most were young, many non-Christians. The Catholic Church has a mission in a country hit by a crisis that touches politics, economics and values.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Young Nepali Catholics say they are ready to get involved in the Church's mission in their country "thanks to the witness of Francis Pope, Catholic bishops and priests in Nepal."

A thousand people, mostly students, teenagers and children, attended Palm Sunday Mass on 24 March at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu.

Like every year, the service many non-Christians were present. Alongside Catholics, they prayed for the new pope and the Church's mission in the world.

"We will carry the cross to deal with the problems of our society," Kishor, a local youth leader, told AsiaNews as he announced that young Nepalis will meet at the same time as World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 23-28 July.

Rev Anthoni Sharma, bishop of Kathmandu, called on worshippers at the Mass to pray "for the pope, but also for the dramatic situation of the country."

In June, the country will elect a new constituent assembly that is likely to adopt a secular constitution after having Hinduism as the state religion for centuries.

After Christians began enjoying greater religious freedom following the fall of the Hindu monarchy in 2006, many Catholics stopped hiding their faith in public.

Tired of political instability and cosy ties between politicians and Hindu religious leaders, this year many young non-Christians started to take part in the initiatives of the Catholic Church.

On Christmas Day 2012, hundreds of students joined events organised in the various parishes across the country.

For Catholics, the presence of hundreds of young people at the Palm Sunday Mass is evidence of this new atmosphere of true respect and openness for the Christian religion and its message.

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