Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) - The
Catholic community of Nepal was delighted at the appointment of Msgr. Paul
Simick as the new Vicar Apostolic of the country. According to the faithful the
new bishop, who comes from Kalimpong in India, "will be able to protect
the rights of Catholics and spread the word of God on the rooftop of the
world" . The Holy See appointed him on 25 April.
His predecessor, Msgr. Anthony Sharma, said: "His appointment is part of God's plan for Nepal and for the world . I know him to be a very learned man, and I am delighted to welcome him . We will work together for the welfare of Nepal".
Msgr. Simick's sister is a nun, Sister Cecilia, who works in the western part of the country: "Ours is a country with a strong Hindu presence, and believe that God has blessed the new bishop with all these responsibilities. I'm delighted, and so is my family: we are surprised to see one of our family become a pastor of many souls . "
Nepal is home to about 150,000 Christians, including 8,000 Catholics. Before the fall of the monarchy (2006), Hinduism was the state religion, affecting the lives of every citizen. Following the proclamation of a secular state, religious freedom was guaranteed; yet minorities, especially Christians, are still subjected to harassment and threats from the majority community.
Hindus are often involved in discrimination, violence against women and marginalisation of the poor. In turn, they, and sometimes Buddhists, accuse Catholics and other Christians of converting people by force or by offering them money.