Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pakistani Catholic leaders: Don't discuss Islam with Islamists

(UCANews) In the wake of recent blasphemy accusations against Christians, Faisalabad Church leaders have warned Catholics not to discuss Islamic doctrine.

“Do not talk about the religion [of the majority]. Our survival depends on this,” Dominican Father Pascal Paulus told parishioners at Holy Rosary Church at Mass on July 18.

“Respect Islam and try to be tolerant and peaceful,” the priest said after the church was stoned on July 10 by a crowd of 100 angry Muslims carrying sticks and glass bottles.

Local Christians guarded the church for several nights last week following the incident, which was sparked by blasphemy charges against Rashid Emmanuel, a Christian pastor, and his brother for allegedly publishing an “anti-Muhammad” pamphlet.

The pamphlet contained the names and telephone numbers of the accused.

“It is hard to imagine that anyone would give their contact details in such a note,” Nauman, a Holy Rosary parishioner, told ucanews.com.

The Catholic Church has formed an inquiry committee of 15 lay people to investigate the facts of the case.

About 90 local religious leaders, including four Catholic priests, six Christian pastors and 80 Muslim clerics met at a local hotel on July 16 to discuss the issue.

They agreed to use their pulpits in a bid to stop further unrest by focusing Friday sermons and Sunday Masses on brotherhood and acceptance.

“Last Friday was crucial as such religious gatherings are often used to form mobs,” said Father Aftab James Paul, director of the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue in Faisalabad.

“We are challenged by a large number of Islamic seminarians who are generally less moderate than common people. Also many self-proclaimed pastors are misguiding people, most of them illiterate,” he told ucanews.com.