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Pakistan Archbishop: We're 'Moving Toward a Better Society'

Newsmax TV's "America Talks Live"

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Apr 2017 04:08 PM

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lahore, Pakistan, said Christians and Muslims working together to "slowly, slowly" make the troubled Islamic republic a "more harmonious society."

"We always tell that God has given us this planet to live," Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw told Newsmax TV's ""America Talks Live" with host Bill Tucker on Wednesday.

"And if we live in a peaceful way, and work for the rights of one another and also for the progress of the country, then I think, ultimately, all people living in Pakistan will live in peace and harmony — and use the talents of one another for the betterment of society.

"We are moving towards for a better society."

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Shaw — appointed to his position by Pope Francis in 2013, after having been auxiliary bishop there since 2009 — explained Pakistan began as a republic inclusive of all.

"The founder of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, believed that Pakistan would be, or is, a country for all people," Shaw said.

"He said in his address to the assembly that the Christians will go to their churches and Muslims will go to their mosques . . . 

"The state will have no business with the personal faith of people, so all will work for the progress and the fortification of Pakistan."

But decades after Pakistan was created in 1947, it began drifting toward religious intolerance.

"During the time of General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s, the country started moving toward more Islamic-like laws that were introduced," Shaw told Tucker.

"Witnessing law, blasphemy law, and some laws like that, and then society was more divided in compartments based on religion."

In blasphemy law, anyone making statements against the Prophet Muhammad can be charged with a crime.

"Actually people live in Pakistan, [have lived] for centuries together, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. So, normal day-to-day life we have a good relation with everybody," Shaw said.

"We understand that we should respect the leader and especially the prophets of all religion like Christianity and Muslims. We respect one another. But some people are victims of blasphemy law.

"Through interfaith dialogue we are trying to come together to help one another to understand and give more respect to the beliefs and dogma of people of other faith."

Through this dialogue, Shaw said, "slowly, slowly society is once again moving toward making more efforts for a more harmonious society.

"It is a very slow process, but I hope that through interreligious faith people will understand and will respect."

Part of Shaw's efforts were the result of two Vatican documents written in the 1990s that urged parishes "to have a better relationship with all people of different faith."

"We were not really sure where we were heading, but we started after 9/11, we had a problem in Pakistan . . . Many churches were attacked right after 9/11," he said.

"We really worked very hard. Many Muslim scholars and imams joined us. Then, we also invited Hindu leaders and Sikh leaders [for] a dialogue.

"For example, when I explain to our Muslim brothers — and also Hindu and Sikh — that we are given a mandate from Christ: 'Love one another.'"

That love, he said, is not only for Christians, but everybody.

"We explained the parable of the Good Samaritan," Shaw said. "All human beings are our neighbors so we have to work for progress.

The same way Muslim brothers explained the peace notion in Islam and the same with Hindus and Sikh. In this way, we find some commonalities between all people of different faith.

"Then we think, how do we implement that? One of the big progresses is we celebrate all religious feasts together."

In addition to his position in Pakistan, Shaw has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 2013. The 59-year-old archbishop was born in Padri-Jo-Goth, Sindh, Pakistan.

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The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lahore, Pakistan, said Christians and Muslims working together to "slowly, slowly" make the troubled Islamic republic a "more harmonious society."
Pakistan, Roman Catholic, Islamic, society
Wednesday, 19 Apr 2017 04:08 PM
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