Kamran Chaudhry, Lahore
Updated: February 12, 2021 04:54 AM GMT
Archbishop Benny Travas (left), Father Yousaf Sohan and Caritas Pakistan Multan members distribute food and hygiene packs among 42 families affected by floods on Dec. 22, 2020. (Photo: Samuel Clement)
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Joseph Coutts of Karachi and transferred Bishop Benny Travas of Multan to take his place as archbishop of Pakistan's largest city.
Cardinal Coutts has headed the southern archdiocese since Jan. 25, 2012. He was appointed chairperson of the Christian Study Centre, a key Christian research center, in Rawalpindi last month.
Cardinal Coutts was born on July 21, 1945, in Amristar in the Diocese of Jullundur in British India. He was ordained a priest in Lahore on Jan. 9, 1971
Bishop Travas was born in Karachi in 1966 and ordained a priest on Dec. 7, 1990. He served as vicar general of Karachi Archdiocese and was ordained bishop of Multan on Aug. 15, 2015. He has also served as a professor of canon law at the National Catholic Institute of Theology in Karachi.
Karachi has a population of 20 million. According to the Catholic Church directory 2018, the seaport archdiocese has 182,000 Catholics and 16 parishes.
“The son of Karachi has returned,” Father Mario Rodrigues, former rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi, told UCA News.
“There is a lot of joy and we are receiving phone calls of congratulations. He is a canonist and pastoral who can address the needs of the minority community in the megacity. Our people call for education, medicine and unity.”
Father Bonnie Mendes, former executive secretary of the Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace, called it a good choice.
“Archbishop Travas knows all the priests and religious of Karachi well. The metropolis needed a dynamic leader — they have one now. We were expecting big changes, especially after the cardinal resigned more than a year ago,” he said.
Father Yousaf Sohan, vicar general of Multan Diocese, also congratulated Archbishop Travas.
“His elevation is an honor for Multan Diocese. He is a simple person who can inflame spirituality in the metropolis. We hope and pray for a new bishop of our diocese soon,” he said.
On New Year’s Day, Pope Francis named Capuchin Father Khalid Rehmat as the new vicar apostolic of Quetta in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province. His consecration is scheduled for next month.