08/18/2020, 15.11
PAKISTAN
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Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral reopens after COVID-19 emergency

by Shafique Khokhar

Representatives of Pakistan’s major faiths attended the ceremony. For Archbishop Shaw, the pandemic united the faithful of different religions. Anglican Bishop calls for the elimination of hatred of others. Sunni, Shia and Sikh clerics call for respect for all places of worship.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore on Sunday reopened the doors of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

Like all the other places of worship in the Archdiocese, the church had been closed to the public as a result of the pandemic emergency.

Representatives of all the major faiths in the country, including members of the National Committee for Interreligious Dialogue, attended the reopening ceremony.

In his address, Archbishop Shaw stressed that the Catholic community had respected the government's directives to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

During the lockdown, Eucharistic ceremonies took place in a small chapel at the archdiocese, with few people praying for the good of the country and the whole world.

The archbishop, who noted that the COVID-19 crisis had united the faithful of all religions, thanked God for saving and protecting the Pakistani people during the pandemic.

He ended the meeting singing a hymn from the Psalms of the Prophet David, something recognised and respected by other faiths.

Anglican Bishop Irfan Jamil said that God had brought together the leaders of all religions to defend the poor. "We have been asked to wash our hands, but we must also wash our hearts and thank the Lord for his protection.”

He further noted that "Wearing the mask and maintaining social distance were other precautionary measures, but we must cover our face and keep our distance from sin [as well]. We must erase hatred of others and love and protect our country."

Islamic leaders also spoke appreciatively. Mufti Syed Ashiq Hussain pointed out that the Holy Qurʼān calls for respect for all religious and places of worship.

For him, Archbishop Shaw did a great job, adding that those present at the ceremony are all ambassadors of peace united by faith.

Shia representative Qasim Raza Naqwi thanked all those who contributed to saving lives in this difficult moment.

Last but not least, Bishan Singh, from the Sikh community, thanked Mgr Shaw for organising the meeting. He too recited a prayer for unity and love between Pakistan’s different religions.

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