For Nepali Catholics, new bishop to renew the country's evangelisation
by Christopher Sharma
The installation Mass of Mgr Paul Simick, new apostolic vicar to Nepal, is scheduled for 29 June at Kathmandu's cathedral. The community "is praying, full of gratitude for the new pastor," who will "help us know more and more the Word of God."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal's Catholic community "is praying, full of gratitude for our new bishop," said Fr Silas Bogati, a Nepali priest who spoke to AsiaNews about the arrival of Mgr Paul Simick. "Hopefully, he will be able to reach out to everyone in the country, who need the word of God. Our hope is that our new pastor can expand the horizon and the Kingdom of God."

The Vatican appointed him apostolic vicar on 25 April this year. Since then, the local Catholic community has been waiting for him impatiently. His installation Mass will be held on 29 June at Kathmandu's cathedral.

"Catholics have been in Nepal for more than 60 years, but our number is still small," said Darshandhari Melun, a local community organiser.

"We have had to endure many delays to evangelisation because of obstacles put up by the Hindu government" he added, "but now we are a secular state, and have a new young bishop and many young men are interested in the priesthood or religious life. I hope that Mgr Simick can lead us towards expansion."

"My dream is to join the Catholic mission and spread the words and example of Jesus Christ among my neighbours, and in the villages of Nepal," said Himal, another young parishioner. "Many young people are waiting for God's call."

Nepal is home to about 150,000 Christians, including 8,000 Catholics. Before the fall of the monarchy (2006), Hinduism was the state religion, affecting the lives of every citizen.

Following the proclamation of a secular state, religious freedom was guaranteed; yet minorities, especially Christians, are still subjected to harassment and threats from the majority community.

Hindus are often involved in discrimination, violence against women and marginalisation of the poor. In turn, they, and sometimes Buddhists, accuse Catholics and other Christians of converting people by force or by offering them money.