Lahore (Agenzia Fides – “Progress has been made in recent years with regards to the path of dialogue and inter religious harmony in Pakistan: today there are many organizations run by Muslims and other faiths committed in this field. The Government of Pakistan has also set up a special ministry for religious affairs and inter religious harmony, indicating an institutional commitment. We see many religious leaders who meet each other during their religious holidays, for example, during the month of Ramadan, which is underway, our Christian groups host the Muslim faithful for the dinner of Iftaar, or celebrate the Diwali festival with the Hindu faithful, and Christmas and Easter with members of other religious communities”, says Fr. James Channan OP, Dominican Catholic priest of the Diocese of Lahore, at the head of the “Peace Center” in Lahore.
Noor ul Haq Qadri, Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter religious Harmony in the Government of Pakistan in recent days awarded Fr. Channan a special prize “for his exemplary commitment to promoting harmony and inter religious peace in Pakistan and the world”.
Speaking with Fides, Fr. James Channan says he is “grateful to God for this award, to the Dominican confreres and to all the friends of other faiths who are by my side in this Christian mission to promote harmony and peace in Pakistan”. The Dominican adds: “despite the progress made, we still have to work hard. There is still mistrust, closure or ignorance of people regarding various religions. There are people and groups who have a fundamentalist mentality and are ready to attack or kill in the name of God. Christian and Hindu communities are sometimes attacked or face the issue of forced conversions of young women”.
Fr. Channan notes: “I believe that our government should add the school subject of ‘inter religious harmony’ in the school curriculum to promote this mission through schools, to combat fundamentalism, prejudice, discrimination, extremism and religious violence”.
Fr. Channan manages The Peace Center, inaugurated by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran on November 29, 2010. He is also regional coordinator for the Union of Religions (URI) Asia, an organization active in 109 countries of the world and which in Pakistan involves 63 groups of religious leaders, lawyers, journalists, young people, women.
The Dominican declares: “It is not easy to carry out our mission among extremism, fundamentalism and terrorism, but we continue our journey with hope, forming people to live as one family and to love humanity”. And he adds: “I have been in this field for 34 years and I see many fruits in Pakistan. Let us continue in this mission of love of one’s neighbor, in the light of the teaching of the love of Jesus Christ. The verse of the Gospel of Matthew encourages us in this mission 7,12: Do to others whatever you would have them do to you”. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/5/2019)