04/22/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Mgr Saldanha: the Risen Christ, a source of joy and hope for Christians in Pakistan

Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore stresses that the faithful will celebrate “discreetly, but full of joy. " Fear of attacks and the economic crisis push Christians to celebrate without much pomp. Some families will spend Easter in the fields, for a harvest that promises to be "exceptional" and reduce "the problem of hunger."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistani Christians will celebrate the rites and festivals of Easter "with great joy and hope, even amid security strict measures" for " fear of possible attacks that" obviously no one expects. " So says Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, archbishop emeritus of Lahore (Punjab) and former president of the Bishops Conference of Pakistan, involved in the celebrations of the Easter Triduum. The prelate adds that "the high cost of living and low wages push people to celebrate without much pomp, unobtrusively, but full of joy."

Christians in Pakistan approach Easter eager to participate in the celebrations, despite difficulties and fears of renewed violence. Fundamentalism is increasing because of discrimination and persecution towards minorities, which adds to a situation of general crisis across the country. Bomb attacks, power failures, rising prices and unemployment contribute to worsen the situation, people feel insecure even in their homes.

"Christians will celebrate Easter with great joy and hope," confirms Mgr. Saldanha, archbishop emeritus of Lahore. The prelate stresses that the faithful "put aside all fear and join the joyous celebrations" related to the holidays. He adds that "of course, security measures are stringent, and we hope that there will be no violent attacks" against Christian targets.

However, the prelate says, "This is harvest season and many families are engaged in the hard work of the wheat harvest." The forecast, adds Bishop. Saldanha, speaks of an "exceptional harvest" for 2011 and the chronic shortage of food "could encourage some families affected by hunger, not to attend Mass but to harvest 'food' necessary for sustenance.

"Easter - continues the archbishop emeritus of Lahore - means new life and renewed hope for Pakistani Christians. Of course, the celebration does not have the same charm that surrounds Christmas. Added to this is the problem of the high cost of living, which makes it difficult to organise large scale celebrations. " According to Msgr. Saldanha Christians live Christ's resurrection in unobtrusive manner but full of joy ", lived mainly" within the family circle. "(DS)

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