Tag Archives: pastor

“We ask for respect for our rights as citizens of Pakistan” | Instant News

The issue of kidnapping, forced conversion and forced marriage should be handled on the basis of human rights, rather than making it a religious issue.

24 November 2020

KARACHI: “We are citizens of Pakistan and the law is the same for every citizen of Pakistan; it is the responsibility of the State to ensure justice for its citizens.

The issue of kidnapping, forced conversion and forced marriage should be handled on the basis of human rights, rather than making it a religious issue. It is the responsibility of the State to provide protection, ensure justice for every citizen, regardless of creed, culture, ethnicity and social class “: this is what Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, stated at a meeting held yesterday 19 November, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi This initiative was organized by the local Church’s “Justice and Peace” Commission to discuss the case of Arzoo Raja (see Fides, 21/10/2020) and other Christian children who were kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors.

Cardinal Joseph Coutts said: “I appreciate all our Christian brothers and sisters who are committed to addressing and resolving these cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage of minors; I also appreciate the role of civil society and their support in bringing justice to girls. young people and their families “. The cardinal added: “I thank Bilawal Zardari for his intervention in the Arzoo Raja case. We appreciate the Medical Council, the judiciary, all political leaders and human rights activists who are working on this matter and stepping in to report the Arzoo Raja case and support justice”.

Cardinal Coutts observed: “There are laws that recognize and punish such crimes. The perpetrator must be punished according to the law of the country: kidnapping someone, forcing someone to marry or changing religions are crimes punishable under the law”.

The meeting was organized and moderated by Fr. Saleh Diego, Director of the Justice and Peace Commission, and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Karachi. Also attending were Catholic priests, Protestant church pastors, Christian lawyers, human rights activists, minority rights supporters, lay people and members of other religions. All are urged to work together to promote justice and equal rights for all citizens, regardless of religion, culture or ethnicity.

Speaking to about 100 people, Fr. Saleh Diego said: “We must continue our efforts and work in unity, but at the same time we must avoid spreading unnecessary rumors and fake news about cases of kidnapping, forced conversion and marriage”, warning against the unconfirmed rumors that lead to problems in real cases and situations.
Fr. Saleh Diego further stated: “We appreciate all those who have voiced their voices through social media platforms, but we hope that this issue is not highlighted as a religious issue. First of all we are citizens of Pakistan and secondly we are a minority religion in Pakistan. We are. must support state officials, security forces, and the judiciary so that they uphold the law and guarantee the rights of all people “.––Fides Agency


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Pakistan Archdiocese holds seminars on forced conversion, child marriage | Instant News

Karachi Catholic Archdiocese organized seminars to create awareness among women and girls about their rights and the growing phenomenon of forced conversion and child marriage in Pakistan.

17 November 2020

KARACHI: Caritas Karachi and the Catholic Women’s Organization (CWO) jointly organized a seminar on November 13 at the Kausar Naizi Colony, a Christian ward in Sts Parish. Jude. The incident adds to the urgency following the recent case of Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Christian girl who was kidnapped on October 13 while playing outside her home on the Karachi Colony Railway. She forcibly converted and married Ali Azar, a 44 year old Muslim man.

Her family is still legally struggling to get custody. The case caused shock waves across Pakistan, prompting religious minorities, especially Christianity, to hold nationwide protests.

Extensive kidnapping for marriage
Tabassum Yousaf, a high court attorney and Arzoo adviser, explained the legal rights of minority girls as guaranteed by Pakistan’s constitution. “Although kidnapping someone for the purpose of forced marriage is a criminal offense in Pakistan, it is one of, if not the most widely reported, of the crimes that are widely reported against women in the country,” he said.

Yousaf advises girls on how to protect themselves from kidnapping, forced conversions and marriage, such as by memorizing the cell phone numbers of their parents and siblings. She asked mothers to spend time with their daughters, befriend them, patiently listen to their problems and handle them with love, care and respect. The lawyer appealed to all to emphasize their commitment to providing quality education and equal opportunities for their daughters, starting from the family.

Mother’s role and prayer
According to Sister Catherine Qasir, a CWO coordinator, mothers play a very important role in building families and protecting young girls from forced conversions. “We must pray daily with all family members to strengthen spiritually and renew our faith in Jesus Christ and to fight against the forces of evil,” he said.

Mansha Noor, executive secretary of Caritas Karachi, said the Arzoo case provided a useful opportunity for mothers and daughters to learn about the threat of forced conversion and child marriage and its negative impact on society. “What we learn from this seminar we must share with others and start applying it to our families if we want to save and protect young women and children,” said Noor.

She pointed to the importance of praying in the family as emphasized by Mother Teresa. “Families who pray together stay together, and if they stay together they will love each other as God loves each of them,” he said.

Arzoo’s case is still inconclusive
The Sindh High Court on October 27 upheld Arzoo’s marriage, based on a false affidavit made by her husband, Ali Azar, who claimed that the girl was 18 and had converted to her own religion. The court prevents the police from arresting the suspect and his henchmen.

However, following protests by human rights and religious groups and a plea filed by the Sindh provincial government, the court on November 2 surprisingly overturned its decision and ordered police to find Arzoo and transfer him to a shelter. The girl was saved that very day.

The medical council set up by the Sindh High Court to determine Arzoo’s age on November 9 confirmed he was a minor. According to Jibran Nasir, Arzoo’s parent’s attorney, the court acknowledged that Arzoo was 13 years old according to official documents from the National Database and Registration Agency (NADRA).

Nasir said, at this stage only the problem of child marriage had been resolved, but the court had yet to determine whether Arzoo could convert to Islam himself considering that he was 13 years old. Arzoo still lives in the halfway house.

The bishops discuss repentance, forced marriage
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan (PCBC) also discussed the Arzoo case at its biennial meeting in Lahore on November 5-6. The bishops noted with great concern the increasing number of kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages among minority communities in Pakistan. “The bishops’ conference condemns the kidnapping, forced conversion and marriage of the little girl Arzoo Raja to a man who is more than three times her age as well as other such incidents,” PCBC president Archbishop Joseph Arshad said in a press release.

Child marriage in South Asia
According to a recent United Nations report, child marriage is still commonplace in South Asia. In Pakistan, nearly 25% of women in their early 20s are married by the time they turn 18, according to the report. UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, says Pakistan has the world’s sixth absolute number of child brides – nearly 1.91 million. India has more than 15.5 million child brides, the highest number in the world.

Girls not Brides, the international non-governmental organization against child marriage, says that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday and 3% are married before their 15th birthday. ––Vatican News


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The Swiss Free evangelical church signs a partnership with the military chaplain, Evangelical Focus | Instant News

Switzerland Free evangelical churches are now empowered to send qualified personnel to serve in army chaplains, after the Swiss Evangelical Alliance (SEA-RES) and the German-language umbrella organization Freikirchen.ch, signed a partnership with the Swiss army on November 2.

Freikirchen.ch is a national church association with 20 free German-speaking Swiss church movements, which includes more than 750 local churches. That The Association of Free Churches Switzerland describes the agreement as historic“.

The announcement followed a meeting between the military chief, corps commander Thomas Süssli, and evangelical representatives, along with representatives from the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland and the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church (EERS). It was the end of a year and a half of intense conversation.

“The Swiss Army has now taken the first step with its military chaplaincy for all. This meeting a sign of respect and gratitude. There has never been such a meeting in Swiss history, Stefan Junger, chief chaplain of the military, said.

According to Junger, “the opening up of soldiers’ pastoral care for other religious communities was done consciously. We want to do justice against a religious background army personnel. It is in this context that this partnership was born ”.

Peter Schneeberger, president of Freikirchen.ch, said they were “delighted with this partnership with the chaplain of the Swiss army. This is an important service for us for the benefit of society ”.

“Mutual trust and the need for young professionals makes this possible. We will practice service responsibly”, Jean-Luc Ziehli, president RES, stress.

The military chaplaincy pastoral has a target population of 170 members. Every two years it takes 30 to 40 new people. On the day the agreement was signed, 36 new pastor come in, all recruited by the army itself, seven came from the evangelical church.

New military chaplains are required to provide referrals and complete a seven-week introductory course and a three-week technical training course. “With your signature, you honor commitments that are consistent with the obligations in the army chaplain to benefit all military personnel,” Junger told news chaplains.

Published in: Evangelical FocusEurope

– Swiss Free evangelical church signs partnership with army chaplains


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Kidnapping of Pakistani teenagers, conversion sparking Christian protests | Instant News

A teenage Christian girl was kidnapped and forced to marry her Muslim kidnappers in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan, her family said.

19 Oct 2020

KARACHI: A teenage Christian girl was kidnapped and forced to marry her Muslim kidnappers in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan, her family said.

A local Muslim man is accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Arzoo Masih while he was playing outside his home in Sts Parish. Antonius Karachi. The Catholic girl is the youngest of four children in her family.

Arzoo’s mother, Rita Masih, said she and her husband were at work on October 13 when they received a phone call from close relatives that Arzoo was missing.

The family immediately filed a kidnapping complaint with the police. This crime is punishable by death or long imprisonment in Pakistan.

However, on October 15, police summoned the family to the office where they were given a marriage certificate claiming Arzoo was 18 and willing to convert to Islam after marrying Ali Azhar, a local Muslim.

Raja Lal Masih, Arzoo’s father, said he was “very concerned” for his daughter’s safety. He wants the authorities to track him down and take him home.

Still said that Arzoo was under the age of marriage under Pakistani law. “At 13 years old, he is too young to marry,” he said.

“We have informed church authorities about what has happened and are asking for help. We are grateful to the National Commission for Justice and Peace for its willingness to help initiate the legal process,” he said.

Shabbir Shafqat, president of the National Christian Party, condemned the conversion and forced marriage of a minor.

“Forced conversion has become the main tool for the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. We must unite against the kidnapping of Arzoo,” he added.

In March this year, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called on the Sindh provincial government to make the forced conversion of minority girls illegal.

Forced conversion “is too easy and too often disguised as voluntary conversion, leaving little girls especially vulnerable,” the commission said on March 22 after the forced conversion of two Hindu girls.

“The bad reality of forced conversions is that they are not seen as a crime, much less as an issue that should be of concern to ‘mainstream’ [Muslim] Pakistan, “said the commission.

The bill against forced conversion introduced in 2016 at the Sindh Provincial Assembly has not yet been passed, the commission said, adding the Sindh government had bowed to pressure from Islamic religious parties who objected to the bill.

He asked the panel to review and pass the bill without giving in to “any individual or party who objects to its content or the spirit that underlies it,” the commission added.––ucanews.com


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Memoirs of an Imam about Muslim parents | Instant News

Father Abid Habib, a Catholic priest, follows the Muslim funeral tradition after his father’s death.

June 19, 2020

By Kamran Chaudhry
Father Abid Habib, a Catholic priest, follows the Muslim funeral tradition after his father’s death.

A cleric read aloud Salatul Janazah (Islamic funeral prayer) when a former Capuchin leader joined his relatives in burying a coffin in the Muslim grave of Chak Hakeem Imam-ud-Din in Punjab province this month.

Retired Major Habib Ahmed, 96, was among the first recruits of the Pakistani army soon after independence. His family shunned him after he married Maria, a Catholic from Goa, India, in 1950 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. He was buried in a Catholic cemetery in 2007.

Ahmed’s six Catholic children silently pray when Muslim relatives read prayer beads in Rasm-e-Qul, the prayer of the church for three days.

More than 20 priests celebrated the Requiem Mass, led by Father Habib at the Church of Sts. Mary in Lahore. The priest thanked all for attending Mass despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot administer the anointing of the sick because he does not know about the sacrament. He suffered because we became Christians, “Father Habib said.

“Sometimes he expressed his displeasure with mothers who prayed at church. We do family prayers every day without him. He used to go jogging during Mass. In fifth grade, he called me a bad boy because he studied catechism. In grade 13, my friend used to invite me to become a Muslim in accordance with my father’s beliefs, “he recalled.

According to the priest, increasing questions inspired him to explore the Bible and the Koran.

“I will strongly challenge their questions but that was before 1980 when the military government of General Zia-ul Haq began adding additional clauses to the defamation law. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps but failed the army recruitment test twice. Vacancies continue to grow, “he said.

In 1976, he met with Father Andrew Francis, who later became bishop of Multan, during the silver Jubilee celebration at the Little Seminary of St. Mary in Lahore.

“He praised my altar boy’s robe and talked about a priest in Karachi whose father was also a Muslim. Finally it resolves obstacles. My mother was referred to another old priest for further counseling. Finally, my brother’s death changed my father forever, “Father Habib said.

“My father’s greatest sacrifice allowed me to become a priest. He accompanied me to the Capuchin home in 1979. My relatives were left in the dark about the priesthood. “

The 63-year-old priest has served as regional coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission of Catholic religious leaders, president of the Pakistan Grand Leadership Conference, seminary professor and director of the Joti Center for Education and Culture in Sindh diocese, Hyderabad diocese of the province.

Dialogue of life
With his Islamic background, Father Habib has interfaith dialogue in a Muslim-majority Pakistan, where religious minorities often face persecution and violence. From parishes to prisons, the authors of several research papers on Islam regularly hold peaceful meetings with Muslims.

Father Habib has also converted 10 people. The two-month process involves instruction from a priest, learning about Christian faith, Bible and Church teachings and evaluation from those who are interested.

“They were all inspired by their neighbors, not a priest or nun. They were baptized at the Easter celebration in small churches which were far from the media’s attention, “he said.

‘Interfaith dialogue is rooted in everyday life. I have a dialogue about ecology and general problems with ordinary people. The scholars only focus sawab [spiritual merit]. I did not stop Muslims standing outside listening to my homily. ”

With conversion comes a challenge. The Pakistan Penal Code does not mandate the death penalty for apostasy. However, it was interpreted as a major crime by traditional clerics and the Islamic Ideology Council – a constitutionally mandated body that was tasked with ensuring that all laws obeyed the Quran and Sunnah (the life of the Prophet Muhammad).

To avoid attention, Father Habib gave appointments to the candidates according to different schedules. However, in the late 90s, police agents tracked Father Habib when he was serving in Lahore.

“My first task for Muslim candidates is to find Jesus in the Koran. I gave instructions to the couple when they ran away after seeing a visitor at the church and hiding in the monastery. After an individual investigation, the two accuse the other of being spies. They are banned from the church. Their miscommunication saved my life, “he smiled.

Father Habib now plans to move to Dubai to continue his mission of interfaith dialogue.

Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad expressed his “wholehearted” condolences to the family of Habib Ahmed for their loss.

“Military personnel follow strict standards, but Ahmed gave us the gift of a dedicated priest. This is a rare example of interfaith harmony based on love, “he said.ucanews.com


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