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ICC Note: The elevation of Joseph Coutts, the Archbishop of Karachi, to the post of cardinal has many in Pakistan excited at this victory of diversity. This elevation will also highlight the persecution Pakistani Christians have faced for generations and the grace they have shown enduring it. Now the question is will the elevation of Coutts activate the rest of the world to aid persecuted Christians in Pakistan.

07/05/2018 Pakistan (Daily Times) – The Vatican has gone multicultural. In a welcome embrace of diversity, in tandem with the modern age, Pope Francis recently appointed 14 new cardinals from as far afield as Iraq, Madagascar, Japan. And Pakistan.

Joseph Coutts, the Archbishop of Karachi, is this country’s second-ever cardinal. And it has taken some 24 years to get here. Which only increases the sense of pride that Pakistan should be feeling. But before anyone and everyone becomes carried away; slapping themselves on the back over how this elevation will spotlight the country on the religious pluralism stage, allow us to be very clear about a couple of things.

The credit goes entirely to Pakistan’s Christian community; which knows a thing or two about acting with grace under fire. Thus the recognition of Cardinal Coutts’ commitment to his creed is all the sweeter given the very real risks of persecution that confront all minority groups here. And while his appointment has been hailed as a boost for inter-faith harmony — it must be remembered that the greater responsibility towards this end rests with the majority religion; since the latter holds a positon of (relative) power. This is something to which Pakistani Muslims should be a little sensitive. Not least because of the legitimate preoccupation with the plight of their brethren in the West.

Then there is the not un-small matter of how Pakistan is a country facing the threat of Islamist extremism. This, for the most part, feeds off already existing anti-American sentiment. But it also exacerbates the phenomenon. All of which places the country’s Christian community in a doubly precarious position. Namely, from a religious right that not only seeks to persecute non-Muslims but also chooses to conveniently view Christians through the anti-western prism. Simply because of religious commonality.

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