02/28/2017, 16.57
PAKISTAN
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Lent: Catholic Church to help widows, visit the disabled, offer food baskets to the poor

by Kamran Chaudhry

Local parishes are preparing for the period before Easter. In Hyderabad funds have been raised to help widows and their children. In Lahore, buses will take volunteers to visit the sick. In Karachi, catechism students, seniors, and children will take part in activities.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Pakistan’s Catholic Church plans to mark Lent, among other things, with fundraising on behalf of widows, aid to the poor, as well as visits to the sick and disabled people.

The time of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter starts tomorrow at a time of extreme difficulty and tensions, in a country touched by terrorist attacks in public places and places of worship.

Despite this, Catholics will not stop supporting the poorest sections of the population and those who are in difficulty.

"We have raised funds to help more than 70 widows and their children,” said Mgr Shukardin Samson, bishop of Hyderabad (Sindh province), speaking to AsiaNews.

“Lent gives us the opportunity of engaging in campaigns to [show] Christ’s merciful face in our difficult country,” he added. In view of this, “I call on Christians throughout Pakistan to fast and pray for peace on the Friday before Palm Sunday”.

For its part, the Sacred Heart Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Lahore plans to organise bus visits to mentally and physically disabled people.

Catholic TV Pakistan is broadcasting messages by priests and discussions about the Lenten fast. According to the broadcaster’s director, Jasber Ashiq, "there is a general bias (among Muslims) that during fasting, Christians eat everything except chapatti”, an unleavened flatbread.

“Even many Christians are confused, not fully aware of what is behind the 40 days of fasting. For this reason, they do not know how to answer questions on the subject by Muslims."

In the south of the country, the Archdiocese of Karachi plans a twice-a-week, month-long ‘Open the doors of your heart’ programme at the archdiocese’s catechetical centre.

“Parishioners have collected food every Sunday, to be divided into 250 baskets and distributed to the poor of the city,” said St Patrick's Cathedral Rector Fr Mario Rodrigues.

"We are trying to involve people of all ages in this Lenten season,” he added. “Sunday catechism students and parish groups will visit the elderly and people with disabilities”.

“We invited to the cathedral 350 over-50 couples this weekend. School children have been invited to share Easter preparations, and carry the cross on the Stations of the Cross."

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