The new Archbishop of Lahore, Pakistan, has asked people to support and pray that he has “courage and faith,” strain the need for righteousness and admiration among religions.
Archbishop Shaw, a Franciscan, has been the archdiocese’s apostolic commissioner since Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha left in 2011. Archbishop Shaw was put in as head of the Lahore archdiocese at a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral led by Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the apostolic nuncio to Pakistan. All of Pakistan’s bishops attended.
He said that committed to have more reunions with other faith’s leaders and to amplify training programs for teachers, parents and women to help them learn about their civil and religious rights and responsibilities.
“There is an urgent need for greater equality and social justice and for peace,” he added. “The Church should be a visible sign of our commitment to this and we can only move forward by lives of service.”
The Archdiocese of Lahore has as many as 600,000 Catholics, about half of all Catholics in Pakistan. Christians and other religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims and Ahmadiyya Muslims, suffer persecution, violence and discrimination in the country.
Archbishop Shaw said that inter-faith collaboration, worldwide conversation and messages through television are central tools in emergent social synchronization. He is planning to initiate a cable channel idea called “Catholic TV Lahore” to broadcast 12 or more hours every day. He said that people must “feel the need for peace.”
“They will see that peace comes when we have justice,”Archbishop Sebastian Shaw
“What we need is to learn to respect one another – to realize that we are all Pakistanis, whether we are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Hindus.”
The predominantly Muslim country’s strict anti-blasphemy laws have led to death penalty for some Christians, including a mother of five named Asia Bibi, who remains in prison.
Disagreement over the blasphemy law resulted in the 2011 assassinations of Punjab governor Salman Taseer and of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic who was the national Minister for Minorities and the first Christian in the national cabinet.