Islamabad - "My dream for the Church and for all of Pakistan is that people can live in peace, harmony and hope. Peace and hope are the words of my episcopal motto: these are two essential and necessary values for Pakistan and for the entire world": this is what Archbishop Joseph Arshad says to Agenzia Fides. Mgr. Arshad enters the diocese of the Pakistani capital with a solemn Eucharistic celebration to be held tomorrow, 10 February, in the cathedral of Rawalpindi, in the presence of a large assembly of civil and political authorities and religious women of the nation.
Born in Lahore in 1965, ordained a priest in 1991 in Lahore, in 1999 Joseph Arshad began his diplomatic service for the Holy See that he carried out in various apostolic nunciatures until 2013, when Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Faisalabad. In the meantime, after the death of Bishop Rufin Anthony, he also became apostolic administrator of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
In his pastoral approach he also distinguished himself for his attention towards the laity and social communication, young people, inter-religious dialogue: "Our Christian mission is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in a land crossed by extremism and terrorism, by corruption , unequal distribution of wealth, from a sometimes unjust judicial system. Discriminatory laws against women and against religious minorities undermine social peace and living together. It is our task to reflect and face these challenges in the light of the Gospel. Always starting from a personal conversion, renewing our way of life, our commitment and our Christian witness".
"The majority of Christians in Pakistan - the Archbishop observes - still live below the poverty line: many are still illiterate and not adequately trained at a professional level and remain in a social condition marked by hardship and marginalization. In this context Christ calls us to be bearers of hope. Christ gives the faithful the key to live a better future, and build a society where everyone lives in dignity and well-being. We are called to be salt, light, and leaven in Pakistan. The Gospel is our contribution to the peace, stability and prosperity of our beloved country".
"Our contribution - he concludes - is primarily to pray for peace, then engage in the field of education, health, social services and charity in order to be an active part of the country, living in harmony with everyone. We entrust our mission in Pakistan to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary". >>