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Dialogue needed to fight persecution, discrimination

Religious minorities in Pakistan need interfaith dialogue for their survival, says church official

Dialogue needed to fight persecution, discrimination

Nuns attending Easter Sunday Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in Lahore on April 16. Violent persecution against Christians is common in Pakistan, says persecution watch-dog Open Doors. (Photo by Arif Ali/AFP)

June 19, 2017

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Religious minorities in Pakistan need to put more effort into interfaith harmony to help beat discrimination and persecution in the Muslim majority nation, was a key theme of a meeting organized by Franciscan Friars in Lahore.

"The religious minorities need interfaith dialogue for their survival," said Javed William former executive secretary of the Catholic Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism at the event held June 15.

"[Improved] relations have been successful in averting many church attacks," said William at the meeting titled "The scope of interfaith dialogue: strengths and weaknesses."

Several church workers attended the event and shared their experiences of working with Muslims.

Father Jamil Albert, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Special Commission for Dialogue, urged the need for a "common strategy" among interreligious groups in the country.

"We have invested a lot in our relations with the Muslims through our education and religious forums but still our community suffers from inferiority complex," said Father Albert.  

"Socially and financially, we are not considered on an equal status. More efforts should be made on the front of interfaith harmony," he said.

In the 1980s, the Franciscan community of Lahore initiated the Christian Muslim dialogue sessions at Dar Ul Naeem, their training center in Punjab province.

The Catholic Church also runs commissions for interreligious dialogue in all six dioceses and one Apostolic Vicariate. Several priests also serve as regional coordinators for a global grassroots interfaith network.

According to the 2017 World Watch List of Open Doors USA, Pakistan ranks as the fourth worst country in its persecution of Christians.

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