Pakistani Catholic Bishops are to invite the Pontiff to Pakistan. A delegation of Pakistani Catholic Bishops is scheduled to meet Pope Francis, today March 15. Members of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) are on the “ad limina” visit in Rome. These bishops will also be celebrating Mass with the Pontiff in the Casa Santa Marta residence followed by a meeting with the Pope Francis.
Archbishop of Karachi Coutts talking to Aid to the church in Need (CAN) explained that this invitation has support from the Pakistani government as well. “Pope Francis is highly esteemed by all Pakistanis, including Muslims. They consider him a man of peace and appreciated his steps towards the Islamic community, not least the good relations with the Al-Azhar,” he noted.
In 2015, then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif sent two ministers to Rome who personally handed over the official invitation letter to the Pontiff. Archbishop Joseph Coutts said that it was likely that the Pontiff will accept the invitation; nonetheless he may visit Pakistan after formation of the new government in the country.
Furthermore, Archbishop Coutts told ACN that Pakistani Christians are greatly concerned about misuse of blasphemy laws. He made mention of the incident involving two Pakistani Christian boys, Patras Masih and Sajid Masih. Patras Masih was arrested for posting blasphemous photo on the social media.
He lamented the fact that despite the fact that whether or not there is proof or not the accused faces great risk and life threatening situations. “For the umpteenth time, a person, almost always innocent, is accused without any proof and without the possibility of defending himself,” he said.
He explained that the religious outfits exert tremendous pressure on the courts, marring the course of justice for the accused. He said that this kind of mindset needs to be changed, in order to control misuse of the blasphemy law. At the same time he appreciated the effort of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) when the Colosseum was bathed with red lights on 24 February. This was done in solidarity with the persecuted Christians across the globe.
Archbishop Coutts said that such efforts reflect on the sufferings of the Persecuted Christians, so that the Western World can learn about their condition. “When we know you are aware of our situation and pray for us, we feel encouraged and no longer feel alone,” he said while thanking CAN.