Festival in Faisalabad to light “candles of peace amid the darkness of hatred”
by Shafique Khokhar

The festival was held at Sts Peter and Paul's Cathedral on 24-26 November. It included paintings, information stands and exhibits. Children played a major role in the initiative. Dialogue with other religions and cultures is necessary to "explore every possibility" to “forge new paths". Peace is a gif God entrusted to human beings.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Mgr Joseph Arshad, bishop of Faisalabad and new president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, greeted the conclusion of the Peace Festival held on 24-26 November at Sts Peter's and Paul's Cathedral in Faisalabad by saying that peace is a "gift from God" but also a task entrusted to human beings, as "the highest aspiration and most noble cause of humanity."

Many of the diocese’s Catholic groups took part in the initiative, including the National Justice and Peace Commission, Wave Studio, Bible Commission, Catholic Khushpur, Caritas Faisalabad, the Catholic Women Organisation and the Women Shelter. All had their own stand with information material, publications and various items like posters and cassettes.

The children of the diocese produced posters for peace, posted on the walls of the cathedral together with an exhibition of paintings by Christian painters. Musical bands played peace songs as children played, sang, and drew small sketches and tableaus.

Among the illustrious guests, there were Javed Bhola (a Christian painter), Malik Mohammad Razzaq (mayor of Faisalabad), Iffat Bakat (a Christian assistant commissioner), and Shaukat Sandhu (a Faisalabad tehsildar, i.e. tax officer).

On Sunday, the last day of the festival, the bishop inaugurated the "Year of the Eucharist" in the presence of hundreds of participants. Announced in early November, the year-long event will come to a close on 25 November 2018, the day of the solemnity of Christ the King.

For the occasion, Mgr Arshad said that "Peace is a spiritual value found in all religions and cultures”, and for this reason, it should “be the highest aspiration and most noble cause of humanity.”

Noting that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers (Mt. 5:9),” the prelate shared his hopes for peace and prosperity for all, especially with “our beloved country, Pakistan”.

“Peace is a both God’s gift and a human achievement. As a gift of God, it is entrusted to all men and women, who are called to attain it.”

For the prelate, dialogue with grassroots groups, other faiths and cultures will continue as "we explore every possibility” to "forge new paths of peace, lighting candles of peace amid the darkness of hatred.”

“May Almighty God who cares for the needs of human family grant all men and women the strength to break the walls that divide human beings and help them to strengthen the bonds of mutual love and learn to understand one another. May peace flourish and reign in Pakistan and in this world."