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ICC Note: 

In a recent interview, the Archbishop of Pakistan called for better religious education among Christians as well as increased interfaith dialogue to help fight persecution in his home country. The Archbishop reported that Christians in Pakistan are very faithful to their religion despite the persecution and discrimination it often brings. It is his belief that better interfaith dialogue with the country’s Muslim majority will help breakdown stereotypes and allow for better religious tolerance to spread. 

04/26/2017 Pakistan (Breitbart) – Despite being present in the country long before its independence, the Christians in Pakistan are among the nation’s most persecuted victims of social discrimination, mob violence, and the near-constant threat of terrorist attacks.

In Lahore, the Christian community recently celebrated its first Easter without an attack on its churches since 2014. The Pakistani army announced that they had foiled this year’s plot to attack the community, finding suicide vests and other weapons in the home of a suspected jihadist.

On Easter 2015, suicide bombers targeted two churches in Lahore on Easter, killing fourteen. The next year, a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted a Lahore park, killing 72 and injuring hundreds, mostly women and children.

As the leader of the Catholic community there, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw OFM of Lahore faces the formidable task of keeping his community’s spirits high while engaging the majority Muslim community in order to turn the tides of suspicion against Christians.

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News arranged alongside the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Archbishop emphasized the need for interfaith dialogue and faith-based education for Christians in creating a more tolerant and peaceful Pakistan, the former necessary for breaking down unfounded stereotypes and the latter to allow for better dialogue. The better Christians know their own faith, he noted, the better equipped they are to educate those of other religions who may see Christians as a threat to national stability.

“Children should have a good knowledge of their own religion,” he explained. “If we talk to people for interreligious dialogue, one has to know about his or her own religion. Otherwise, [dialogue] turns into debate, and debate ends in enmity and sour relations.”

“We are a very small minority, but we are very strong in faith and very loyal and faithful to the country,” Archbishop Shaw emphasized. “Christians are in the army, they are in the judiciary, in the schools and education, hospitals. All together we are working for the progress and fortification of Pakistan.”

In the short-term, however, the Archbishop noted that Christians must live with the reality that they will face threats of violence from terrorists and mobs incensed by accusations of blasphemy and that includes heavy investments in security and cooperation with the Pakistani government.

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