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Pakistani Catholics mourn death of Islamabad bishop

Muslims also appreciated Bishop Rufin Anthony for his views on interfaith harmony

Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province died Oct. 17 from a heart attack. He was 76.

"We are still shocked at his sudden departure. He lived a spiritual life, loved the small chapel in his house, always spoke the truth and never spoke rudely," said Stella John, a Focolare member in the diocese adding that the late bishop built at least six churches in the Faisalabad Diocese.

Bishop Anthony was born Feb. 12, 1940 in Khushpur, Pakistan. Ordained in 1969, he served as formator and spiritual director at St. Pius X Seminary in Quetta and as a professor at the Major Seminary of Christ the King in Karachi.

Bishop Anthony also served as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies and later as rector of St. Thomas the Apostle Minor Seminary in Faisalabad and the major seminary in Karachi.

He became vicar general of Faisalabad Diocese in 2005 and was parish priest of Khushpur when Pope Benedict XVI named him coadjutor for Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese on Aug. 4, 2009. He was ordained a bishop on Sept. 21 in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.

On March 17, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as Apostolic Administrator of Faisalabad Diocese, which had not had a bishop for more than a year.

Father Bashir Francis, former vicar general of Faisalabad Diocese, praised Bishop Anthony for accepting responsibility for two dioceses at the same time.

"The late bishop used to travel regularly from Rawalpindi to Faisalabad for church events despite his old age. As the Apostolic Administrator, he took several hard decisions [including transferring several some priests and settling church property disputes] for the betterment of the local church," said Father Francis.

"Even Muslims appreciated his views on interfaith harmony and considered him a scholar with a genuine heart that cared for humanity."

Bishop Anthony also served as the general secretary of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference and Chairmen of Catholic Youth Commission.

His funeral was held on Oct. 19 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Rawalpindi.

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