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Freedom of Religion in India under pressure

Seven Christians from the region of Kandhamal in the north-east of India are condemned to life imprisonment. Alledgedly, they murdered a Hindu priest in August 2008. As a consequence a riot against Christians began. About 100 people died, more than 50.000 people had to flee, several thousands of houses burnt down, about 300 religious buildings were destroyed in Kandhamal.

The innocent Christians: B. Sunamajhi, B. Sanseth, B. Nayak, D. Sunamajhi, G. Sanseth, S. Badamajhi, M. Badmajhi

The innocent Christians: B. Sunamajhi, B. Sanseth, B. Nayak, D. Sunamajhi, G. Sanseth, S. Badamajhi, M. Badmajhic

The allegations against the seven Christians, who belong to the indigenous population of the Adivasi and the socially excluded so-called Dalits, are already exhausted. Although they are innocent, they are not free.

Hindu nationalists produce a climate of intimidation. missio Aachen gives a voice to the wifes and children of the condemned men. With the petition #freeourhusbands, it calls for the freedom of Budhadev Nayak, Sanatan Badamajhi, Gharanath Sanseth, Duryadhan Sunamajhi, Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Munda Badamajhi and Bijay Sanseth.The petition runs until 31th March 2018 and is handed over to the Federal Government.

In India, Hindu nationalists are putting pressure against the freedom of religion. They want to create a Hindu state, within wich they gain more and more influence. Christians, Muslims and members of other minorities suffer discrimination, hate speech, violence and oppression.

By the help of the petition #freeourhusbands, missio calls up for freedom for the seven innocent Christians in the state of Odisha in India. The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of the State of Odisha.

Your signature counts! Please sign here. Thank You!

Pakistan Catholic Bishop’s Conference November 2016

We, the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC), held our Second Plenary Annual Meeting in the Renewal Centre in Lahore last weekend of November, 2016. After having reflected prayerfully, on the issues that are affecting the life of the Church and the people of our beloved country, we would like to present the following message to our community and the people of good will:

Year of Mercy

Since the time, His Holiness Pope Francis began his Pontificate he has brought new life to the Catholic Church giving it new vigor and Mission. One step he took was to declare Extraordinary Jubilee, the Year of Mercy, which struck a chord in the hearts of millions of Catholics across the world. The Door of Mercy was opened not only in the Vatican but also in countries across the globe. People have frequented the Sacrament of Reconciliation and visited Churches in pilgrimages. They have increased Works of Mercy dramatically helping people in greater need.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a great saint of our time, has been a great pillar of mercy and service to humanity. She was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavour to her work, it was the ‘light’ which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering”. Abdul Sattar Edhi too instilled a deep sense of love and care for people that transitioned to his lifelong service to the people of Pakistan. Edhi took the resolve to help his fellow human beings by providing medical and basic facilities including the 24 hour ambulance service, shelter home, orphanages and several relief operations that belong solely to his credit. During this year of mercy, we are sad to lose a brother Bishop Rufin Anthony. He was a man of prayer and mercy. His death has reminded us of the need of good holy priests, full of mercy and love. We pray for his eternal rest and are grateful for his services to the Church.

We appeal to all, in particular to those who during the year of mercy have benefitted to share their richness with others, especially the youth and other people who in different parishes helped poor people in greater need, to continue the good works of mercy and be an example to the people around in their lives.

Corruption and poverty

Corruption and poverty go hand in hand. When malpractices of corruption rise, the economies of countries fall. Poverty starts swelling and prosperity begins dwindling. The corrupt go on conning the fiscal resources of the country by fair and foul guiles hurling the greater segment of the society into the bottomless abyss of poverty. They become richer and richer and the general public becomes poorer and poorer. They miss no chance to devour countries’ financial sources and the white ants of poverty start eating up the very roots of the trees of economic produce. Investments lose their pace and the wheel of prosperity slows down. Consequently, vacuums are created for abuses of bribery, injustice, lawlessness, robberies, thefts and killings. Melee and mayhem overtake the state. The nexus between corruption and terrorism, and instability and poverty becomes stronger and stronger in the societies. PCBC thus draws immediate attention of the government to take strong action to get rid of the existing chaos in the society and daringly wipe out every tint of corruption from the sacred face of our beloved motherland.

Census

Bishops expressed deep concern over the extraordinarily belated Census in the country. Timely Censuses are always important for the state’s good governance and better management. PCBC is keenly aspiring to know the Christian population and their ratio in Pakistan, our country, in order to conveniently provide them spiritual and social services. Since presently there are rumors of the upcoming Census in the near future, the Bishops urge the priests, the catechists and the teachers to educate the Christian populace to get their names registered in this process. The Local leaders, Caritas workers, Justice and Peace Commissions and the local government councilors must actively help the concerned department that no Christian is left out to be registered in the upcoming Census.

Minority Quota

One praiseworthy step taken by the previous government was the grant of quota system for minority students to avail employment opportunities against the unfortunate existing trend of discrimination. We strongly support the government to strictly sustain its implementation in face of the present tendency and keep proper check on irregularities caused by the people of vested interest.

The Christian Marriage Act of 1872 and The Divorce Act 1869.  

The Catholic Church and the other Churches of various denominations in Pakistan have taken keen interest in reading and studying the bill to be presented to the Parliament on the following two Acts: 1. The Christian Marriage Act of 1872 and 2. The Divorce Act of 1869.

The Catholic Church along with all the major denominations of Christians has studied the Draft Acts with the Secretarial help of National Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) so that the teachings of the Holy Bible, the Christian tradition and contemporary opinions are fully respected. The teachings of Jesus on marriage and the family are duly conformed to Pakistani laws of Marriage and, Divorce are such that Christians can accept with a clean conscience. The PCBC thanks all the governments of Pakistan, the elected members of the National Assembly and the Senate, the lawyers and theologians for their hard work for more than a decade to deliberate, change and accept the proposed Acts. We hope this will help Christian family life to grow.

A Call for Calm and peace

Calm and peace seems like a forgotten dream in the country since decades. It looks as if our country’s peaceful coexistence and calm have all evaporated into the ether leaving the country in the tight grip of the extremism, sectarian killings, target killings, terrorism, uncertainty and insecurity. Cacophony of the politicos and antisocial actions by various sections of the society are worsening the state of calm and peace in the country.

We salute Pak Army for its efforts and sacrifices for the fight against terrorism and invite all the political leaders to play their role to establish calm and peace in the society. However, we also remind the government of its duty to provide calm and peace to the citizens and pray that the people of good will may come forward to set the country on her peaceful and stable footings.

We live with Hope

We are Christians who believe in the Risen Lord Jesus. He assures us that He is with us at all times till the end of the ages. He is at our side, even in the darkest moments of our life. No matter what the trials are, we do not lose hope. We know we have Him at our side journeying with us. Pakistan has problems like many other countries of the world. In some cases our problems may frighten us, but we pray that our leaders will always do what is right and stand up for the truth. We appeal to all Christians and citizens of good will to contribute liberally to the growth and progress of the nation. Pakistan is our home and we will always be loyal citizens working for its development. May Almighty God bless our country and people!

Report:                                              S. Sheeky

missio congratulates Bishop Joseph Arshad on his Priestly Silver Jubilee

25. Jubiläum von Bischof Joseph Arshad

25. Jubiläum von Bischof Joseph Arshad

His Excellency Dr. Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Faisalabad gracefully celebrated his PRIESTLY SILVER JUBILEE on 1st November 2016 to bless the Lord with endless gratitude at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Faisalabad. 

On this auspicious occasion, nearly one hundred priests from Faisalabad and neighboring dioceses con-celebrated the Jubilee Mass with Bishop Joseph Arshad. His Grace Msgr. Sebastian F. Shaw, the Archbishop of Lahore and Fr. Benjamin Shahzad, the Rector of Christ the King Major Seminary, the Capuchin and Dominican Provincials,  Fr. Nadeem Francis, and Fr. Pascal Paulus  assisted him at the altar. There were 150 hundred nuns present and 2,000 faithful attended the Holy Mass

The Celebration matched one of superb festivities. To this end, the organizing Committee had casted off no effort in the planning and preparation of the said celebration. It passed over no conceivable features to bestow splendor to the event. Nevertheless, a lion’s share of the contribution put in the success of the occasion by the members of preparatory teams consisting of the Vicar General, Fr. Kamran Taj, Fr. Patrick OP, Fr. Nadeem John, Fr. Zafar Iqbal, Fr. Pervaiz Gulzar, Fr. Francis Lazarus, Mr. Francis Yousaf and Mr, Farhan Lawrence, the Diocesan Caritas Executive Secretary, may also be not overlooked and are much appreciated. They all remained vigilant and on their heels right from the start till the ending of the holy event.

The sanctifying event commenced at 10.30 a.m. with warm reception to His Excellency. St. Joseph’s School band escorted him from the main entrance of the Cathedral to the entrance of Bishop’s House amongst mesmerizing beats of the drums, pleasing jingles of the bells and ecstatic tones of the flutes. As the Most Esteemed Celebrant appeared amidst the clergy, the religious and the faithful gathered together at Bishop’s House entrance, they warmly welcomed him with seething excitement. Thereafter, the Prelate was pompously led for the Jubilee Mass into the Cathedral in a solemn procession of the faithful, the clergy and the altar ministers. After the entrance hymn, Fr. Aftab James Paul gave detailed introduction of the celebration highlighting the accomplishments of the Celebrant and invited the assembly to devotedly pray for him by taking active part in the Jubilee Service. After a brief pause of silence, the Holy Eucharist was celebrated in a divinely environment. The skilled choir created heavenly atmosphere during the service.

Bishop Joseph Arshad created pin drop silence by telling his life story’s savory and fulfilling spells. He elaborated how prayer and persistence helped him overcome the ups and downs in his way. He subtly unfolded to his audience that persistence, prayer and hard work result in success. He requested the congregation to continue to pray for his priestly ministry so that he may faithfully serve the Lord and His people till the end.

Before the final blessing, Rev. Fr. Pervez Emmauel, read the Messages respectively sent by His Holiness Pope Francis, His Excellency Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Badar, Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan and His Excellency Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. Rev. Fr. Kamran Taj, on behalf Bishop Arshad thanked all for joining him on the occasion of his priestly Silver jubilee and expressed his gratitude to all different committee members and all other people who in different ways contributed to the success of this great event.

Addressing the participants Mr. Cicil Shane Chaudhary, director of NCJP shared, “Firstly I congratulate His Excellency Dr. Joseph Arshad, bishop of Faisalabad on completing 25 years of his episcopal ordination. It is indeed a moment of great joy for his congregation, the Church and us since we are fortunate to have him as the Chairperson of NCJP, someone who in these years has not just served his people but has also acquired a vast international exposure as a Vatican Diplomat. His vision and guidance is a source of encouragement for the team at NCJP and we wish him many more years in his service to God and His people.”

Talking to Missio-Aachen, Mr. Shahid Anwar, diocesan coordinator at NCJP Faisalabad said, “I wholeheartedly congratulate His Excellency Bishop Dr. Joseph Arshad on his priesthood silver jubilee and pray that God bless him in his priestly ministry and wish a cherished life in the service of the Lord and His people. Since the episcopal ordination of Mgr. Dr. Joseph Arshad as bishop of Faisalabad diocese I found him very disciplined and dedicated. He is also serving as the Chairperson of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and has been leading and guiding the commission through his divine wisdom and diplomatic skills. He has very good managerial skills and always believes in teamwork. He wants Faisalabad diocese to be an ideal diocese of Pakistan and for this purpose he is continuously working day and nights, and I believe that one day his dream will come true with his devotion and hard work.”

At the end of the Holy Eucharist, the people presented their token of love to their iconic shepherd expressing their deep love to him. The gift ceremony was followed by the second procession towards the Sacred Heart School auditorium for variety show and cake cutting ceremony that was concluded at 3.30 p.m. Then all enjoyed the festive lunch.

Report:  S. Sheeky  

Pressefreiheit in Pakistan in Gefahr – Constitution itself curbs freedom of Press

Zum Internationalen Tag der Pressefreiheit am 3. Mai hat der pakistanische Menschenrechtler S. Sheeky einen Beitrag für missio Aachen geschrieben. Journalisten werden mit Hilfe der Blasphemiegesetze eingeschüchtert. Täter, die Journalisten angreifen, werden nicht bestraft:

The freedom of press is a precious privilege that no country can afford to forgo; it is the fundamental right that affords the citizen their right to information and acts as a vigilante force against tyranny and state atrocities. Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of every democracy.

However, in states where democracy is little more than fascism behind a façade of democracy, press freedom is the first casualty. And, this is the story of Pakistan today.

However, in states where democracy is little more than fascism behind a façade of democracy, press freedom is the first casualty. And, this is the story of Pakistan today. May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. The 2016 theme is “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This Is Your Right!”On this occasion, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, has, in a message said, “On this World Press Freedom Day, I urge all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media. Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered. With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all.”

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Christian and muslim Activists want hate material be removed from Textbooks in Pakistan

A Report by S. Sheeky

Vertreter verschiedener Religionen besprechen am 30. März 2016 in Karachi, wie Schulmaterialien so gestaltet werden können in Pakistan, dass sie nicht mehr religiöse Intoleranz lehren. Davon würden auch verfolgte und bedrängte Christen profitieren. missio Aachen unterstützt solche Bestrebungen. Foto: NCJP

Vertreter verschiedener Religionen besprechen am 30. März 2016 in Karachi, wie Schulmaterialien so gestaltet werden können in Pakistan, dass sie nicht mehr religiöse Intoleranz lehren. Davon würden auch verfolgte und bedrängte Christen profitieren. missio Aachen unterstützt solche Bestrebungen. Foto: NCJP

A conference “Uprooting religious in-tolerance through formal education in Pakistan” was organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, PILER, and National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an Institution of the Pakistan Catholic Bishopsconference, here at Karachi on 30th March, 2016. The speakers strengthened the need for formal education and removing hate based content from the text books in public schools. They noted that if society of Pakistan has to progress and express before the rest of the world that we are a peaceful and co-existent society, the structure of school education needs to be changed and curriculum has to be replaced. NCJP on the occasion also launched a booklet they have compiled on the hate content in the text books of courses of History, Social Sciences, Pakistan Studies, and Urdu and so on.

The participants of conference observed one minute silence in solidarity with the victims of Lahore bomb attack.

Shahida Rahmani, MNA, PPP, said that teachings of Islam are wrongly preached and wrongly transmitted; she added that Islam is religion which upholds rights of people equally, it asks followers to get education and explore the universe which will come through modern education. Islam tells exclusively for character building of the people in society. We need improve upon Madaris and bring them fold of public schools system, she maintained.

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Sebastian Francis Shaw: After Easter-Sunday Bombing in Lahore we need your Prayers

Shaw Anschlag 1


Most Reverend Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM, Archbishop of Lahore, send an E-Mail to missio Aachen, asking for Prayers after the Easter-Sunday Bombing in Lahore:

Thanks for your consoling and encouraging email messages. We had 20 funerals on Monday (28 March) and I visited Sheikh Zaid Hospital and Jinnah Hospital where most of the Blast Injured were being treated. Sisters and our team visited each Victim, Christian and Muslim. It was very very difficult to console them. We had no Words specially to mothers whose two children 4 and 6 year were injured badly while Husband and a child were killed. She was not able to take part in funeral her husband and child. She was with two children in Hospital.

We had no Words specially to mothers whose two children 4 and 6 year were injured badly while Husband and a child were killed

One mother lost her two children and husband. She was a guest and came to Lahore from Sanghar, (Sindh Province). She lost her whole family. She will go back to her home without her husband and children. No words to console her.

There are two funerals now. I am going for the Funerals. Two real Sisters. One 19 years and the other 17 years.

In this depressing and in Traumatic situation we are still preaching and consoling our faithful with the words of Jesus, the Words of Jesus after resurrection: ” Peace be With You”

We need your prayers so that we may continue the Mission our Risen Lord Jesus had given us.

Erzbischof Sebastian Francis Shaw besucht in den Hospitälern von Lahore Opfer des Bombenanschlags auf einen Freizeitpark an Ostersonntag. Foto: Erzdiözese Lahore

Erzbischof Sebastian Francis Shaw besucht in den Hospitälern von Lahore Opfer des Bombenanschlags auf einen Freizeitpark an Ostersonntag. Foto: Erzdiözese Lahore

Shaw Anschlag Ostern 2016 2

 

Candle Vigil in Faisalabad after Easter-Sunday Bombing

In Faisalbad fordern Demonstranten nach den Anschläge von Lahore an Ostersonntag die pakistanische Regierung auf, einen Aktionsplan gegen Hass und Intoleranz zu entwickeln. Foto: missio / S. Sheeky

In Faisalbad fordern Demonstranten nach den Anschläge von Lahore an Ostersonntag die pakistanische Regierung auf, einen Aktionsplan gegen Hass und Intoleranz zu entwickeln. Foto: missio / S. Sheeky

Hier ein Bericht und Bilder von S. Sheeky für missio Aachen von Aktionen in Pakistan gegen den Terrorismus nach dem Anschlag vom Ostersonntag in Lahore:

The city of Lahore once again had to face the harsh and tragic outbreak of the extremist forces in a deadly and brutal attack on innocent families visiting the park to celebrate the spring season and the festival of Easter. A few days back the government took an initiative to declare Holi (Hindu festival) and Easter (Christian festival) as holidays. While the non-Muslim community of Pakistan were rejoicing and appreciating the efforts of the government, on March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday, a suicide bomb in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park killed over 70 and left more than 300 injured. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the blast stating it had intentionally targeted the Christian Community on Easter. The National Commission for Justice and Peace, a rights based organization of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, strongly condemns the tragic attack on innocent people in a public park.

His Lordship Bishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson NCJP and Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director NCJP in a joint statement said that killing innocent people, in particular women and children, in the name of religion is unacceptable. While the motive was to target the Christians, yet so many of our Muslim Brothers, Sisters, Children and families who were also visiting the park on account of Sunday holiday fell victim to this brutal attack. We pray for all the victims of this attack, as they were all Pakistanis. While the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Army Chief have strongly condemned the attack, the commission calls upon the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and to tighten its measures for protection of all citizens including minorities and vulnerable communities.

They further stated that the government while addressing the extremist elements through the military operation needs to also address the root causes of this intolerance. It must conduct a large-scale operation to eliminate such elements that are prevalent in the province of Punjab and other parts of the country, which are operating and blatantly challenging the writ of the state.

Bishop Dr. Arshad and Fr. Yousaf further stated that the uncertainty of life is becoming more obvious in Pakistan. We thus pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that as a nation He may grant us wisdom, tolerance and peace. May God give strength to the families of the victims to endure the loss of their loved ones.

“The govt. must establish a parliamentary oversight committee to monitor and review the counter-terrorism efforts of the federal and provincial governments as well as concerned agencies to further improve the performance under NAP. The govt. should take concrete steps and adopt an appropriate strategy against terrorism and change the mind-set of those who sow terror and death across the country. The government must redefine its policies and make genuine efforts to ensure that such kinds of merciless acts against minority groups are not repeated, and persecution of religious minorities is stopped through bringing the perpetrators to justice,” demanded Fr. Khalid Rshid Asi while addressing the participants of a Candle Vigil in Faisalabad.

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