Revisiting shared culture, faith, fraternity: Pakistani priests visit Indian Punjab

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Diocese of Lahore organized a jubilee pilgrimage in Indian Punjab with an intention to overcome political tensions, religious differences and divisions that exist between the two neighboring countries India and Pakistan. The delegation from the Diocese of Lahore visited Punjab on the other side of the border at the end of April.

Diocese of Lahore pilgrimage to India

The Pakistani delegation headed by Archbishop Francis Sebastian Shaw visited the neighboring Indian dioceses “making an experience of unity, sharing, communion and fraternity.” The Pakistani delegation comprised of 16 diocesan priests. Archbishop Francis Shaw said: “We went to India with the threefold purpose of visiting Indian Christian brothers; establish cordial relations with the local Church, participate in seminars, conferences and retreats in both countries; explore collaboration in the fields of the permanent formation of priests, nuns and catechists and lay people interested; and, finally, to share information on pastoral activities, in the name of evangelical witness.”

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The Pakistani delegation visited the diocese of Agra and Jalandhar in Punjab on the other side of the border. Pakistani priests also visited the Diocese of New Delhi. While remarking about this pilgrimage, Archbishop Francis Shaw further said: “We hope that in this Year of mercy we can re-evaluate historical places, churches, the life experiences of the faithful and, with our sharing, be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We hope to be witnesses of the Gospel in the Indian sub-continent.”

After the visit the delegation of Pakistani priests expressed overwhelming joy. “The group of priests in Lahore found this experience of heartfelt fraternity, joyful and inspiring”, said Father Innayat Bernard, one of the pilgrims priests. The delegation said that priests from India will also pay a visit to Pakistan in order to strengthen the ties.

The Diocese of Lahore was establishment in the undivided Punjab in 1886, 130 years ago thanks to the missionary work of French and Italian missionaries along with Belgian Capuchin friars. Later on in 1947, the territory of Punjab was divided in two: and thus the Diocese of Lahore fell in Pakistan’ share.