Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Pakistani Catholics are today mourning the death of the Bishop Emeritus of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Bishop Anthony Lobo, who died in the early hours this morning after a long illness. News of his death has aroused an outpouring of emotion among the faithful of the capital and throughout the country, who remember his enormous contribution to education, a perennial problem in Pakistan with deep cultural and structural challenges (see Dossier: Education can stop the Taliban in Pakistan). Bishop Lobo was known and appreciated for his work in pastoral care and evangelization.
Born July 4, 1937 in Karachi (Sindh province) in the south of the country, he first studied at St. Patrick's Institute, before deepening his religious formation in the local seminary of Christ the King. He was ordained in Karachi on 8 January 1961; 20 years later, on June 8, 1982, Blessed Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of the metropolis. Finally, on 28 May 1993 he was moved to the capital, as bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, a position he held until his resignation "for health reasons" on February 18, 2010, when he was succeeded by Msgr. Rufin Anthony.
The various positions he held and qualifications he gained over the years include: President of the Commission for education in Pakistan, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, Chairman, Office of Education, Federation Of Asian Bishop's Conference; member of Senate of the Shah Abdul Latif University and Sindh University, member of the board of Oasis magazine.
For the faithful, he was a "visionary" who knew how to inspire courage in a difficult time for Christians in Pakistan. As highlighted by the Rector St. Mary's college Brig. Samson Simon Sharaf said, who said Msgr. Lobo's death "was like losing my father for the second time." He emphasizes that the prelate brought "light, education and humility of spirit to this Diocese", providing a major contribution in the field of "religion and education", in addition to having promoted many works in the capital. Bishop Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi today, is "deeply saddened" by the death of "a visionary man" who helped to strengthen the spirit and faith of the Pakistani people. The bishop announced that the funeral will be held on February 20 and he has called the community to prayer.