What differentiates young people in Pakistan is education and poverty for the poor don’t go to school. For Christians, discrimination in the workplace and marginalisation because of their faith are added factors. For one young Pakistani, Daniel Bashir, bishops should help “solve our problems” through faith.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "Catholic bishops, in addition to listening to us young people, should guide us,” said Daniel Bashir, a young synod delegate from Pakistan, speaking to AsiaNews to the Synod on young people.
He is one of the very few young auditors (36) invited to participate in the Synod of Bishops, tasked with helping the Church to better understand young people and touch their destiny, renewing them in faith and vocation.
For Daniel, to reach this goal, Catholic leaders meeting in the Vatican until 28 October should “advise us. Many of us don’t know what to do with our lives, what path to choose. Help us understand it through faith."
A young doctor from Karachi, Daniel is also the national coordinator of Jesus Youth, an international movement of lay missionaries. He has been lucky in life because not all young people in his country have the opportunity to study that he has had.
If one really wants to understand how Pakistan's youth live, "the first distinction that needs to be made is between those who study and those who do not. Everything revolves around that."
If we turn to the Christian minority, "the distinctions based on education makes little difference. We [Christians] can be engineers, architects, doctors, but in many places, we are discriminated because of our faith. Some jobs are for Muslims only, whilst the most degrading jobs are reserved for young people from minority groups. Sometimes this is very frustrating, especially for those who have an education. It is painful for us."
In Pakistan, young Catholics live "in a very simple way. The most devout go to Mass every morning, before going to school or work. For that reason, the service is held at 6:30 am in many parishes."
Money is the main factor that differentiates. "For students, the school day unfolds following an hourly schedule. When they are grown up, they search for work. Those from poor families, life is different. Most of them are day labourers, so if they don’t work, they don’t ear. For this reason, many move away from the faith because they cannot go to Mass on Saturday or Sunday”. Neither is a public holiday in Pakistan.
From a spiritual point of view, things have been changing in the past few years because "of the youth of priests. Until a decade ago, clergymen were elderly, seen as distant from people. But now there are younger priests, who attract the faithful, make confessions simpler, teach us better how to live as witnesses of Jesus among Muslims.”
For the young Karachi doctor, the spontaneity that characterises young men of the cloth "allows us to develop a warmer atmosphere with youth. This is why they are often called 'Brothers' rather than 'Fathers'. They make us feel loved, as if we were all part of one big family."
However, young Pakistanis face only one fundamental problem, namely guidance. “After school, we don’t know what to do. We are confused, we don’t have a sense of discernment. Priests are extraordinary in their pastoral work but not in counselling young people."
For this reason, he believes that the Synod of Bishops, which is centred on this topic, represents a great opportunity. "The bishops must help us find our way. The Synod should encourage them to focus on helping and counselling young people in individual dioceses. After listening to us, they must advise us on how to solve our problems, realise our dreams, and face the challenges of life through faith and spiritual renewal."