10/15/2013, 00.00
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Pakistani priest: Salzburg, example of coexistence between Christian and Muslim students

by Shafique Khokhar
Fr. Bonnie Mendes describes his days in Austrian of meetings, artistic beauty and encounters. He appreciates integration in schools and dialogue between different cultures from childhood. He expresses the hope of the faithful : thanks to the pope and to the charism of Francis, an end to the division between Catholics and Protestants.

Salzburg (AsiaNews) - A land rich in beauty, able to teach coexistence between Christians and Muslims from elementary school, a people who hope and pray that one day in the not too distant future, thanks "to the Pope " to put an end " to the division between Catholics and Lutherans . " This is how Fr. Bonnie Mendes , a priest from Faisalabad ( Punjab) , former executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission ( Ncjp ) and coordinator of Caritas Pakistan , described his recent trip to Salzburg, Austria , UNESCO world heritage site and birthplace of Mozart .

The Pakistani priest - in the frontline of the battle for an end to violence of a religious nature in Pakistan and for harmony between religions - speaks of his appreciation of the coexistence nurtured from the outset in schools in Graz. " I participated as a speaker at a meeting in elementary school - he tells AsiaNews - and it was impressive to see that the majority of 150 children were Muslim ." The school had children from 37 different countries, each " with a different mother tongue" .

Fr. Bonnie Mendes talks about being fascinated by the Salzburg Cathedral , enhanced by four organs and antique decorations . He tells the deep desire of the faithful , for reconciliation to end the divisions between Catholics and Protestants, and the renewed hope and charisma of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

The Pakistani priest also described the beauty of the landscape, the architecture, the magnificence of the ancient monasteries and centers of prayer , as well as the goodness of the food, "and the local beer " that greatly appreciated. All this, at the Bio Festival held in recent days in Salzburg.


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