The German-born nun spent her life helping Pakistan’s lepers. Her state funeral was held on Saturday in Karachi. Students should learn about her to stay away from terrorism.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church in Pakistan wants the government to add a chapter on Dr Ruth Pfau's life in the country’s textbooks to remember her great social work in favour of leprosy sufferers.
Church leaders have backed an initiative undertaken by a student association. The goal is to teach future generations about the nun’s contribution. A member of the Immaculate Heart Family of Mary, she died on 10 August at the age of 87.
Sister Ruth “helped the untouchables of our country and cared for people of all faiths. The best way to back her work is to educate our children about her principles, including love for humanity, equality and brotherhood,” said Shahid Rehmat, executive director of Youth Development Foundation (YDF).
Rehmat spoke at a prayer vigil in memory of the nun, called the "Mother Teresa of Pakistan". The torchlight gathering took place on Sunday at Lahore's Liberty Chowk with about 50 people, Christians and Muslims, some carrying banners saying ‘#Balanced Education’ and ‘#ReadAboutRuthPfau’.
According to the YDF director, Sister Ruth treated "a physical illness but by following her example, we can get rid of the illness of hate speech, violence, ignorance and religious discrimination. The light for the lepers can enlighten darkness in the prevailing mindset."
“Our society has forgotten religious minorities because the textbooks no longer mention non-Muslim politicians and personalities. The incomplete history taught in our schools only produces biased citizens who have little interest for the rights of those fewer in number.”
The doctor’s funeral was held at St Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi last Saturday. The Pakistani government organise a state funeral in her honour, an unusual recognition for a foreign-born individual in an Islamic majority country.
Sister Ruth's coffin was covered in the Pakistani flag and carried by soldiers. Her remains were laid to rest in the Christian cemetery of Gora Qabristan, in Karachi.
The area around the cathedral was closed off to traffic and visitors were asked to write their names in the attendance book and avoid carrying any mobile phones.
Fr Jamil Albert, a Franciscan priest present at the prayer vigil in Lahore, said: "We are grateful to the leaders of the country for acknowledging the work of our sister, who set an example which we all need. She was a mother to all."
"Unfortunately," he added bitterly, "we have really few good stories from our country. Terrorists are targeting youth for recruitment. But we can inspire young people with the story of a nun who left her native country (Germany) to help our nation.”