01/17/2017, 17.52
Send to a friend

Overcoming mistrust during the Week for Christian Unity, says Lahore priest

by Kamran Chaudhry

Fr Inayat Bernard runs the St Mary minor seminary in Punjab’s capital. He gave new impetus to the Committee for ecumenical solidarity, a group that includes Pakistan’s four main Christian denominations. Fighting religious extremism needs deeper mutual understanding.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian unity "must be a visible thing in Pakistan. Instead of meeting only when a church is attacked or in crisis situations, we should meet in time of peace,” said Fr Inayat Bernard, dean of the St Mary minor seminary in Lahore.

Speaking on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins tomorrow, he told AsiaNews that "Church leaders still have many reservations about other denominations, and not everyone feels comfortable in going to another church.”

In view of this, he called on everyone to follow the "Vatican directives". In fact, Fr Bernard himself gave new impetus to the Lahore Committee for ecumenical solidarity, which has organised joint prayers involving Catholics and Protestants during the Week for Christian Unity.

The Committee includes representatives from the four main denominations in Pakistan: Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian and Salvation Army (Evangelical).

The Week for Christian Unity is set to end on 25 January. Tomorrow, the first day, Anglican bishops will lead the prayer in Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. The liturgy will be celebrated by Mgr Sebastian Shah, archbishop of Lahore, a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Speaking about the Committee for ecumenical solidarity, which is also responsible for prayer meetings at Christmas and the "Hallelujah Conference" (second Saturday of Easter), Fr Bernard noted that it is "an purely religious initiative. We are still at an early stage, and we have few prayers."

With respect to anti-Christian attacks, like the one in 2013 against Joseph Colony and the other in 2015 by the Taliban against two churches in Lahore, the clergyman said "we still do not issue joint public statements, although we did provide Christians in Lahore legal and financial aid."

The dean believes that in Pakistan "religious extremism is the biggest challenge for Christian unity. The fanatics of all religions are responsible for disruption and instability. In my country, Christians are discriminated against every day. Job seekers are rejected. Church property is also not safe."

"All this makes it even more important to share other people’s point of view. Catholics could benefit from the biblical interpretations of others. Theological expansion deepens our knowledge and may have positive effects on the local Church."

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”