The “Pastoral Letter on Family Life” published by the Pakistani bishops conference will be presented by Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore, and Mgr. Anthony Lobo, Bishop of Islamabad – Rawalpindi, at the 8th Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) that opens today in Daejeon, South Korea.  They will join the other 90 other Asian bishops to discuss “The Asian Family: towards a Culture of Life.”

“It is a great opportunity for bishops from across Asia to interact with one another. It is an experience that cannot but enrich and push us to work and cooperate more closely,” Mgr. Saldanha told AsiaNews yesterday evening.

“We shall submit to the FABC Assembly the ‘Pastoral Letter on Family Life’ we released back at Easter, and shall speak about the discriminatory laws Christians endure in Pakistan,”  he said.

Discrimination against Christians in Pakistan is commonplace and the state’s ‘blasphemy laws’ do nothing to discourage it.

The issues touched upon in the letter include major problems of divorce and abortion. “We would like to reaffirm the teaching of the Church that a valid Catholic marriage cannot be dissolved. So we do not accept divorce, even though other religions may allow it.”

“We already have family life commissions in every diocese,” Archbishop Saldanha said, “but we want them to become more active in helping people prepare for married life according to Christian doctrine.”

The bishops have planned to commission married couples who will be trained as counsellors to engaged or married couples on issues such as natural birth control in an attempt to give families more support, education and guidance.

Abortion is the primary method used to limit the growth of families in Pakistan, one the Pakistani bishops can only vehemently speak out against, repeating the Church’s teaching that the killing of unborn children is murder.

There are about 1.3 million Catholics in Pakistan in a population of about 143 million.

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