VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sitting in a small circle with Pope Francis in the papal library, five bishops of Pakistan felt like they were having a family discussion, including about their problems, said Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
The archbishop, president of the Pakistan bishops’ conference, spoke to Vatican News March 15 after the meeting with the pope as part of the Pakistani bishops’ “ad limina” visits, which every bishop in the world makes to the Vatican periodically to report on the status of his diocese, to discuss his diocese’s most pressing concerns and to affirm bonds with the pope.
The problems of Pakistan’s small Catholic community — just 2 percent of the population — are serious, the archbishop said. But some of the worst problems, like discrimination or becoming victims of an abuse of the country’s anti-blasphemy laws — impact other groups as well, including members of the Muslim majority, he said.
For example, he said, while there are famous cases of Christians falsely being accused of blasphemy against Islam and the prophet Muhammad, the same happens to Muslims. But, he said, “the government is taking steps” to make it harder to abuse the law.
And, Archbishop Arshad said, Catholic leaders in the country continue to be committed to dialogue with their Muslim counterparts, which “is very important.”
“If circumstances permit,” he said, “we would like the Holy Father to come visit us because he loves us.”
In addition to Archbishop Arshad, the bishops making their ad limina visits included: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi; Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad; Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore; and Bishop Benny Mario Travas of Multan.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103