Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Mgr. Joseph Arshad has said that during his meeting with the Pontiff, topics such as Pakistan, the Church and Pakistan’s Christian youth were brought under discussion. Recently, a delegation of five Pakistani Bishops on their ad limina apostolorum visit met with Pope Francis. Pakistani bishops also invited the Pontiff to Pakistan and expressed hope that the visit was likely.
Talking about the meeting, Archbishop Arshad said: “It was a very fruitful meeting, we felt welcomed in a sincere dialogue among brothers. We spoke about Pakistan, the Church and our young people, pointing out that there are so many vocations to priesthood and consecrated life. This encourages us and makes us hope for a rosy future for the Catholic Church in Pakistan. They are a seed of hope even in difficulties, which do not discourage us, but today strengthen our faith”.
Talking about his meeting with the Pontiff he said that he was certain that the Pope is concerned about Pakistani Christians. “We have a certainty: the Pope loves us, loves his little flock of faithful in Pakistan and prays for us. We are close to him and support him in his ministry. If God wants, we told him that we would like to have him in our land one day”, he concluded.
He said that the bishops felt stimulated after meeting with the Pontiff. “We return to Pakistan encouraged, renewed, filled with new spiritual energies and new grace of God, to continue our service to the community of the baptized”.
Archbishop placed emphasis on the youth saying: “Young people are 60% of the Pakistani population. This data is very important for us Catholics.” He said that faith and education of Christian youth must be boosted:” For our young Catholics, the priority is to make sure that they can grow in faith in Christ and that they have access to quality education and continue to the highest level which is university: that is why we are very committed and we will continue our commitment: it is the key factor for their future”.
He further detailed that being dedicated to the youth: “we have set up ad hoc commission and the activities of youth pastoral are in full swing in the dioceses. In Faisalabad we organized the ‘peregrinatio’ of a Crucifix among the different parishes and in April we will have a youth gathering with over a thousand people from all over the territory”.