Karachi - The Catholic Church in Pakistan strongly promotes inter-religious dialogue and good relations among believers of different communities, in the certainty that this approach contributes to harmony, social well-being and peace: as Fides learns, this is Archbishop Joseph Coutts’ approach, who is at the head of the Catholic community of Karachi.
The various and diverse dialogue initiaves take into consideration the Islamic community and other religions: for example, during the month of Ramadan's Islamic fasting, the Archbishop organized an "Iftar" meal for his Muslim friends. The Archdiocese also promoted an initiative to celebrate the 200th birthday of Hazrat Bah'u'llh, the founder of the Baha'i faith, during an evening attended by members of various religions such as Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Baha'i faith.
Kashif Javed Anthony, Coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission, commented to Fides: "This initiative strengthens ties with people of other religions. We are, first and foremost, human beings and followers of one’s respective faith". Fr. Shahzad Arshad, Catholic priest of Karachi, confirms to Fides: "We Christians in Pakistan are following the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ: the love of our neighbor. The Church brings God's love to every human being", he said, encouraging Christian communities.
Among the many present, Farhad Mashriqui, representative of the Baha'i community, thanked the Catholic Church, assuring its community's full support for promoting inter-religious harmony.
Among other examples of dialogue and fruitful friendship, several Christian leaders joined the Sikh community to celebrate the 549th birthday of Guru Nanak in a Sikh temple in Karachi. Atif Sharif, a young member of "Jesus Youth Pakistan" at the meeting, told Fides: "Being Catholic for us means cultivating unity with our brothers and sisters of other faiths".
Caritas also promotes inter-religious harmony: social work in Karachi is carried out especially by young Christians in collaboration with young people from other religions, says to Fides Mansha Noor, Caritas Karachi's Executive Secretary.