Cardinal of Pakistan: I admire the Christians in my country for the faith they have

The acquittal and release of Asia Bibi after nearly nine years of an endless judicial process has been a milestone in Pakistan’s history. It is also a beacon of hope for all victims of the anti-blasphemy law, especially Christian.

However, for the small Christian community in Pakistan, life is not easy. They represent only two percent of the 200 million people living there.

CARD. JOSEPH COUTTS
Archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan
“In society, and the way in which we live, you sometimes see really fanatic people. They go so far as to say, it happens in schools, with the children saying ‘oh this boy is a Christian. Don’t eat with him.’  Or, ‘He should not drink water from the same tap,’ especially in villages. However, all the fanatics are not just living in one place, but you get this kind of thinking which makes life a challenge for us.”

Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, visited Europe after receiving an invite from the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need. He came to explain the difficulties for Christians in Pakistan; and why it is important to listen to their voice.

CARD. JOSEPH COUTTS
Archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan
“We live in that kind of tension, ‘When it is going to happen again?’ ‘Where is it going to happen?’ However, on the other hand, the government provides us with protection. Very good Muslim groups help us whenever we have problems, such as this.”

The cardinal is also known for his work in constructing mutual understanding and coexistence between Muslims and Hindus. It is a dialogue the Church tries to promote through numerous projects at the service of all citizens of Pakistan, regardless of their religion or social status.

CARD. JOSEPH COUTTS
Archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan
“If you come to our Holy Family Hospital in Karachi, a Catholic hospital, you will find only one or two christian doctors. The rest are Muslims, but even a few Hindus. We all work together.”
“We have to continue to be a witness with our lives; and show our Muslim brothers that we are here to help when we can. You also must help us, which many good Muslims are doing.”

For this reason, he admires the strength and faith of Christians in Pakistan, despite the threats and attacks they have received over the years. He recalls that in 2001, when the United States attacked Afghanistan, Islamic radicals in retaliation attacked Pakistani Christians, whom identified with the West.

CARD. JOSEPH COUTTS
Archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan
“After a few days some people came to meet me. They said, ‘Bishop we heard that you are not going to have the midnight Mass for Christmas this year.’ I said, ‘No, we have not decided that but we are thinking of your safety.’ One of the men, the leader of the group said, ‘Bishop, don’t cancel the midnight service. It’s Christmas, we will celebrate it. If the terrorists want to kill us, it’s better we die in the Church than at home.” “I admire the people even the poor people for their faith.”

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan has recorded 25 cases of Christians in prison due to the anti-blasphemy law. Since this law was passed in 1986, at least 224 Christians have suffered its unjust consequences.