01/20/2005, 00.00
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Pakistani Christians pray for ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue

Kasur (AsiaNews) – Christian unity, inter-faith dialogue and aid to tsunami victims inspired a recent inter-faith prayer meeting that was organised by the National Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue and Ecumenism (NCIDE) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan.

The prayer was held at Kasur parish church during the Week for Christian Unity. It brought together clergymen and faithful from many groups representing different denominations.

Fr Francis Nadeem, NCIDE's executive secretary NCIDE, urged the participants to "work on common development projects promoted by Christians".

He invited them to a silent prayer "for these died in the tsunami and for the survivors who lost everything".

He further said that "ecumenical unity has to reach to the grass root level among [and help] the common people" who are living in difficult times.

Self-appointed ministers are of no help to the Christian community because, he believes, they try "to explain the Word of God without adequate Biblical knowledge". In doing so, they end creating confusion among the faithful.

Father Nadeem concluded telling his audience that for the Week of Christian Unity Pope John Paul II himself had urged the faithful "to follow Christ's will which calls believers to unity".

Rev Salamat Maish of the Pentecostal Church said that "some of religious leaders and faithful have not understood the importance of inter-faith dialogue".

Rev James Ashiq, pastor of the Full Gospel Assembly, thanked the NCIDE for the "invitation to a common prayer" because it enables us "to be closer to the faithful".

Rev Munir Phool of the American Presbyterian Church also welcomed the appeal to Christian unity saying that his Church recently worked on a "common project with the Catholic Church to send money to Tsunami victims".

Fr Inayat Bernard, the local parish priest who organised the event, said that "it is important to promote Christian unity and avoid highlighting the negative things that might separate us." He reminded everyone that "it is every Christian's duty to pray and work for unity in the world".

Pervez Muhabbat, director of the Cathe Foundation (a Pakistani NGO), spoke of his organisation's work in favour "inter-faith harmony in the province of Punjab" and expressed the wish that "all people [would] respect and tolerate one another's religion".

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