ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
Updated: May 29, 2019 04:03 AM GMT
Father James Channan addresses the Interfaith Conference 2019 in Lahore on May 17. (Photo courtesy of Father Channan)
A Catholic priest has been honored by the Pakistan government for his “exemplary services” to promote interfaith harmony and peace in his own country and worldwide.
Father James Channan, a Dominican who has spent 50 years following the spirituality of St. Dominic, received an award at the Interfaith Conference 2019 in Lahore on May 17 that was attended by more than 300 people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.
Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, presented the award.
“Many people helped me to reach this place. I praise God, the Church, my community of Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan, and all my friends,” said Father Channan.
“I especially thank my Muslim friends who always supported me and my work and keep on appreciating me to continue my mission to promote peace and harmony among the people of Pakistan.
“I am actively serving in this mission to build bridges between Christians and the people of other religions, especially with our Muslim brethren, but still I see there is an urgent need for interfaith dialogue.”
Father Channan said his work to promote peace and interfaith harmony brings him peace and mental satisfaction.
“I keep on thinking about ways to bring people of various faiths together, to help them to nurture and strengthen peace among them,” he said.
“Everybody is my neighbor, and being a follower of Jesus Christ I have to love everybody — it keeps me motivated and zealous. We always have to share this message that we are one human family, following different religions and faiths but living our faiths we have to promote love, unity and peace.”
Father James Channan (right) with Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony, at the Interfaith Conference. (Photo courtesy of Father Channan)
Father Channan is the director of Lahore’s Peace Center, which was inaugurated by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, then president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“I work to provide facility to the people of various professions and age groups to come together for dialogue, which helps to remove discrimination, fundamentalism and extremism from our society,” he said.
Father Channan also serves as a regional coordinator of United Religions Initiative (URI) in Asia. URI is serving in 109 countries including Pakistan.
“We have 63 active groups of religious leaders, lawyers, journalists, youth, women and children. Our Peace Center is always available for programs or events to promote peace, interfaith harmony, interreligious harmony and Christian-Muslim dialogue,” he said.
Father Channan, who holds a licentiate degree in Islam and Arabic studies, said he had set his aim to promote Christian-Muslim unity when he was studying theology in Karachi in 1978.
“Looking at discrimination in society, I decided that I would work to break these walls of hatred and to promote acceptance and brotherhood among people belonging to various religions, cultures and ethnic backgrounds,” he said.