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(ANS – Vatican City) – The Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Salesian Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, on the occasion of the opening of the “Year of the Mission in Pakistan” (1° October 2011-30 September 2012) has sent a message to the local Church.
In his message published by the Fides Agency, the Archbishop says it is necessary: “to show respect for freedom of religion and of conscience, which is the distinctive sign of justice and peace.” Saying he is happy “to share the enthusiasm and the renewed missionary zeal to preach the Gospel and to sow the Word of God in the fertile soil of many hearts”, he notes that “as a small minority in a society with a Muslim majority, the Church in Pakistan lives and moves in a framework which requires sensitivity and great love for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
“Amid trials and tribulations, your perseverance in the faith, in hope and in charity is admirable!” says the message which was read at the Assembly of Bishops, priests religious and lay people gathered in Karachi to launch the Year of Mission.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai refers to the XXV anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace held at Assisi on 27 October 1986, recalling that “peace, as a sincere desire of everyone, is seen as something fragile in many societies.” To defend it, “two things are of supreme importance: the inner imperative of a moral conscience, which invites us to respect, protect and promote human life, and the imperative which leads us to overcome selfishness, avarice and a spirit of revenge. The second is the conviction that peace is something beyond the efforts of man. In this way its source and its fulfilment need to be sought outside all of us.”
The Message continues: “As Christians, we are convinced of the truth that Christ is our peace. So we preach Christ and his Gospel, since through his life and death he has taught us to love, to serve and to make peace between individuals and peoples.” Focusing on the situation in Pakistan, the Archbishop says: “Christian love urges us towards dialogue and towards promoting positive and constructive relationships with people and communities of other religions. It is edifying to see the enormous efforts being made in Pakistan, testifying to the fact that Christians and Muslims can work and walk together in peace,” even though he looks forwards to “an urgent improvement” in this area.
The Message concludes with the assurance that the Universal Church and that in Pakistan are united in prayer, and makes an appeal to the faithful in Pakistan with the words of Jesus to his apostles: “Do not be afraid.”