Pakistani Christian priest Father Inayat Bernard has called for unity among Christians in Pakistan. He urged that Christian unity “must be a visible thing in Pakistan. Instead of meeting only when a church is attacked or in crisis situations, we should meet in time of peace.” He said that Pakistani Christians must unite at all times instead of joining forces only when under attack.
Father Inayat Bernard, Dean of the St Mary minor seminary in Lahore stated that the Church in Pakistan needs to stay united. He was addressing the audience on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally starts from January 18 to 25.
Father Inayat Bernard stated that: “Church leaders still have many reservations about other denominations, and not everyone feels comfortable in going to another church.” He urged every believer to follow the “Vatican directives.” He spurred the Lahore Committee for ecumenical solidarity; in this connection prayer services have already been scheduled throughout the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
These scheduled prayer services will involve Catholics and Protestants. Lahore Committee for ecumenical solidarity consists of representatives from the four main denominations in Pakistan: Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian and Salvation Army (Evangelical).
On January 18, Wednesday, the prayer will be led by the Anglican bishops at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. Archbishop of Lahore, Mgr Francis Sebastian Shah celebrated the liturgy. He went on to point out to the fact that, in connection with the anti-Christian attacks churches have never issued a joint statement.
He said that during the incidents like the one in 2013 when vandals torched Lahore’s Christian neighborhood Joseph Colony and in 2015 by the Taliban against two churches in Lahore. “We still do not issue joint public statements, although we did provide Christians in Lahore legal and financial aid.
“The dean believes that in Pakistan ‘religious extremism is the biggest challenge for Christian unity. The fanatics of all religions are responsible for disruption and instability. In my country, Christians are discriminated against every day. Job seekers are rejected. Church property is also not safe.”
“All this makes it even more important to share other people’s point of view. Catholics could benefit from the biblical interpretations of others. Theological expansion deepens our knowledge and may have positive effects on the local Church.”