· The Pope encourages the commitment of the association of Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti ·
“It is my hope that, supported by the prayers and effective solidarity of many others, you can extend your activity to those areas of Pakistan where Christians and other minorities are mostly present and, sadly, also discriminated against and made a target of acts of injustice and violence”, Pope Francis told members of the Mission Shahbaz Bhatti whom he received in audience on Friday morning, 30 November in the Consistory Hall.
During the meeting which began with an introduction by Paul Jacob, brother of the Pakistani Minister for Minorities killed on 2 March 2011, who recalled Shahbaz’s support of Asia Bibi, the Pontiff stressed that one “fruit of the sufferings endured by Christians is the growth of groups and associations – like your own – that build bridges of fraternity throughout the world overcoming differences of language, culture and, at times, also of religion”. This, he continued, is the very task of many Christians who continue to work in difficult situations. inspired by Bhatti and by his witness. Francis asked them to persevere “in service to peace and justice” thus “fostering relationships of respect and mutual trust” among all believers.
“I encourage you to persevere in this evangelical witness, which joins firmness to meekness, in order to assist victims of false accusations and to find concrete ways to combat poverty and modern forms of slavery”, Pope Francis told participants. “May your distinguishing feature always be that which shines forth in the witness given by Shahbaz Bhatti and so many other martyrs of our time, namely, a humble and courageous faith in the Lord Jesus and the capacity to bring love in place of hatred”.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 21, 2019
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