Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, O.F.M., marked his eighth anniversary as a bishop in Manhattan raising awareness of Aid to the Church in Need, which is assisting Catholics in his home Archdiocese of Lahore in Pakistan.
“I’m hoping and thinking that some day Pakistan will be a model society where there will be more tolerance, acceptance, and progress. Peace will prevail, human dignity will be respected, and people will have equal rights to their own religion and also economic growth, social justice,’’ Archbishop Shaw told CNY during his visit to the New York Catholic Center, where he had lunch with Cardinal Dolan and was a guest on the cardinal’s radio show on Sirius XM April 25.
Pakistan is second to Indonesia in the number of Muslims. Archbishop Shaw said 1.8 percent of Pakistan’s population is Catholic and 3 percent is Christian.
In a talk, “On the Plight of Christians in Pakistan,” which Archbishop Shaw gave in London last fall, the archbishop said evidence presented in a court of law by a Christian man is worth half that of a Muslim man and evidence by a Christian woman is worth even less. The archbishop added that school textbooks contained hateful passages about Christians and Jews, and Christians are not permitted to use the same crockery as a Muslim in some regions of the Punjab Province.
“It is still a difficult situation,” said Archbishop Shaw, who was appointed Archbishop of Lahore, which has about 500,000 Catholics, in 2013. The archbishop is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“A majority of the people hopes in the future we will have a better society. We do not lose hope. We do not lose heart. We have to continue the mission God has given us and the mission is of peace because Jesus gives us the mission to love one another and also he said ‘blessed are the peacemakers.’
“So, wherever we are in all the difficulties with our situation, we will be a peacemaker and continue our mission.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity with a mission to help suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide. The nonprofit, with offices in 22 countries, has assisted people in more than 145 countries and undertakes more than 5,000 projects each year.
Aid to the Church in Need has contributed money and is collecting funds for Christians in Pakistan after Christians were targeted by a suicide bomber’s blast at Lahore’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park on Easter Sunday 2016, which killed 72 people, including 29 children, and injured 340.
“Pakistan is not so much in the news as is Iraq and Syria, but Archbishop Shaw will tell you there are some serious challenges for the Church confronting growing Islamization of the society, and the Church is being a voice of dialogue and tolerance to help stem the tide a little bit,” said Joop Koopman, director of communications for Aid to the Church in Need, who joined the archbishop on his visit to CNY’s offices.
Archbishop Shaw, who arrived in the United States on April 18, will return to Pakistan May 14 to share stories of his visit with the people in the Archdiocese of Lahore and parishioners at the 110-year-old Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“We need prayers and we are also praying for you,” Archbishop Shaw said.