.- The secretary of the Catholic Biblical Commission of Pakistan and pastor in Lahore, Father Emmanuel Asi, explained this week that Christians in the country live âin fear and constant threat,â as they are considered to be part of the lowest level of society, they are persecuted, exploited in the work place and discriminated against in a nation that is 95% Muslim. Despite the difficulties, he explained, they still live with hope.
Father Asi made his comments to the international Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need. He pointed to the example of a 13 year-old girl who only recently had been kidnapped and raped by a Muslim man.â Such incidents are a regular occurrence, he said.
Christians in Pakistan are "proud and happy" that they are Christians, Father Asi explained, because they understand their faith to be "a grace and great blessing," although their lives are "painful and full of fear and frustration."
âWe know, in the case of the early Christians, that persecution and oppression played an important role in the deepening and spread of the Faith. In Pakistan we are experiencing the same thing," the priest said.
He also underscored the positive effect of the testimony of Christians on Muslims, who see Christians as âdifferent.â Women, for example, feel attracted by the âfreedom and joyâ that Christians convey, because âthey âcan go to church with the men and they can sing in the choir.â
Father Asi also pointed out that powerful witness of Catholic nuns. Many Muslim girls enjoy attending Catholic schools, for the Church places great emphasis on the education of women. It is from the women especially that Father Asi is hoping for a transformation of society.