Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – “A young priest is always a gift for the People of God, chosen as the prophets and apostles to bring people closer to God. It is the priest’s responsibility to serve people and accompany them to live a life of holiness. This is a day to celebrate and rejoice: let us pray for all the priests”: this is what Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, said to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the fact that, during the time of Covid-19, the Catholic Church in Pakistan had the gift of new priests. The Cardinal remarked: “The priest is the one who reaches and draws near to the people of God in the midst of tensions, worries and difficulties, with a message of hope and peace, proclaiming the Word of God. The way for him is to live and bear witness to Christ”.
As reported to Fides, in recent days Cardinal Joseph Coutts presided over the priestly ordination rite of deacon Rashid Aslam in the presence of over 1000 faithful, 51 priests, nuns and seminarians in St. Patrick Cathedral, in Karachi. The Eucharistic celebration was held strictly following the protocols envisaged for the Covid-19 epidemic. The faithful entered the Cathedral wearing masks and sat respecting the distance, after the sanitation of the hands.
Furthermore, at the beginning of August in the diocese of Hyderabad, Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM conferred the priesthood on the two deacons, Fr Sunil Ashraf, diocesan, and Father Perkho Sono OFM, in Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Hyderabad. During the ordination ceremony, the Bishop laid his hands on the heads of the two and kissed the hands of the newly ordained priests. Addressing the assembly, Bishop Shukardin said: “The new priests are a sign of hope for the Church and a blessing for the community. They testify that the Church is growing and its evangelizing mission continues, despite the difficulties and challenges of the world”. The Bishop added: “We serve the People of God with humility, drawing close to every family to help them take root in faith”.
Currently, the Catholic Church in Pakistan – articulated in the archdioceses of Karachi and Lahore, the dioceses of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta – has 173 diocesan priests and 134 priests who are members of religious orders.
The Catholic Church in Pakistan opened the Churches on August 15, on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after a five-month lockdown, which began in March 2020. The faithful began to participate in Holy Mass respecting the new health prevention provisions. Currently Pakistan records about 300 new positive cases every day while, until 1 September, the total number of people infected with Covid-19 is about 296 thousand. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2020)