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Pakistani official: Society flourishes with religious freedom


CARL BUNDERSON AND MARIANGELA SULLIVAN

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
1/23/2013

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ABSTRACTPakistani official: Society flourishes with religious freedom :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Pakistani official: Society flourishes with religious freedom By Carl Bunderson and Mariangela Sullivan Paul Bhatti (R) speaks as Irish journalist John Waters looks on. Photo by Nicholas Erickson, Courtesy of New York Encounter. New York City, N.Y., Jan 23, 2013 / 04:03 am ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- Paul Bhatti, Pakistan's Minister of Minority Affairs, called religious liberty a Christian value that can enhance life in the country and impart stability to society at large. “With religious freedom societies are more likely to flourish, because people can express their deepest belief and highest ideas, so societies are more stable,” he said in a Jan. 19 interview with CNA. “It's the wrong concept that religious freedom leads to instability, but actually it leads to more public order and more economic empowerment, so this is the Christian teaching.” Christianity can also offer to Pakistani culture its emphasis on compassion and the works of mercy, Bhatti observed. “John Paul II said that Christian teaching...should be some kind of assistance to the human being. We don't assist only (one) who is Christian, we have to assist a human being who is suffering, who needs your help, who should be honored and respected for his dignity, for this is the teaching of Christianity.” “So if we follow the teaching of our Gospels, that will bring...the real message of freedom,” he noted. Bhatti made his remarks at the New York Encounter, a three-day cultural festival in the city – sponsored by the Catholic ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation – which explored the theme of “Experiencing Freedom.” He discussed “Freedom in Politics,” reflecting on his brother Shahbaz who was killed in 2011 for his support of Pakistani Christians and his opposition to the country's blasphemy laws, which are chiefly used to persecute non-Muslims. After Shahbaz' death, Paul was appointed to his brother's post as Minister of National Harmony and Minority Affairs, again the only Christian in the Pakistani government. He said it was a “challenge” to take on this position. “I found myself in a situation, though it was very difficult to accept it, because before I was living a very routine, normal life,” he said. As minister of minority affairs Bhatti at times must travel with a security entourage and suffers threats to his life. “But next to that, if you feel you can make some difference and change this culture or at least give your small contribution to this culture, which can grow and can extend on a wider basis in society, I think I must dedicate my life for this.” He offered a hopeful vision for Pakistan, saying “this is the encouragement I get from this kind of situation, and I feel there is space for change, there is a possibility that this culture can become a tolerant culture, we can bring harmony in this society, but we have to start from somewhere.” On the current movement to have his brother Shahbaz canonized, Bhatti said he has “no doubt he is a martyr, because his whole life was dedicated to the teaching of the bible and he was a strong believer of Our Lord Jesus Christ...we are getting help from him.” “He never negotiated his faith, and he expressed his faith openly everywhere, even when he knew he could be killed. So in that context, I think he has all the possibilities” of being a saint, Bhatti said. The Pakistani minister recounted going into his brother&#.......