The role of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in the community was highlighted by Christian leaders, lawyers and journalists. (Photo: UCA News)
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was observed by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), the human rights organization of Pakistan's Archdiocese of Karachi.
Celebrated from Jan 18-25 since 1908, this year’s unity week had a special theme of “Abide in my love … You shall bear much fruit” (John 15:17).
The role of the NCJP in the community was highlighted by Christian leaders of different denominations, lawyers and journalists.
Father Saleh Diego, director of the NCJP and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi, said it was the desire of Jesus mentioned in the Bible that "they may be one,” noting that “we must keep in our minds St. Paul’s words that we all are different parts of the same body and if there is a pain in any part of our body, our whole body feels it.”
“All Christians, united and bonded in Jesus' body, must feel the pain of each other and be united. If someone cuts himself, he actually cuts himself from the Body of Christ,” he added.
Kashif Anthony, a rights activist, said the first week of unity was celebrated in the small chapel of Atonement Franciscan Convent of the Episcopal Church, located on a remote hillside outside New York City.
The dates of the week were proposed by Father Paul Watson, co-founder of the Gravmoor Franciscan Friars, keeping in mind the feast of the Confession of St. Peter on Jan. 18 and concluding with the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on Jan. 25.
“We must keep in our minds and practice ecumenism in our lives in which Christians belonging to different denominations work together and develop closer relationships and promote Christian unity among their churches,” Anthony said.
Rev. Salman Babar Lal of the Anglican Church of Pakistan thanked the NCJP for gathering different churches and Christian representatives from civil society.
“We have to fulfil the words of Jesus that we may be one, not only in the happiest moments but also in the sad episodes of our lives. Unity begins with love, and unity is a basic need among our church leadership, community and among minorities in Pakistan,” Rev. Babar said.
Sabir Michael, a Catholic professor from Karachi, said the two institutions of the family and the Church are where society is nurtured and if there is no unity in the family or in the Church, there will be no peace or progress."
“We are all different but God wants us all to live in peace, united and love each other. Love for ecumenism and diversity must begin in our homes for God’s love is showered on both bad and good, which means there is a space for diversity and in the eyes of God,” Michael said.
Major Haroon from the Salvation Army said this is the right time to think about unity among Christians and churches.
“We all have been striving and working for interfaith unity and for different policies to have union with others, but the Catholic Church took the great initiative of gathering all the Christian leaders. First we should be united and promoting unity should be the priority for us,” he said.
Saleem Michael, legal adviser of the Archdiocese of Karachi, said now is the right time to speak and gather in one platform.
“We all are struggling for our rights and for marginalized people. Our community is poor and in need of our help. If we are not united or cannot stand together, what will happen to our people and where will they go?” he asked.